Lichties get 1st win of pre-season.

Last updated : 29 July 2004 By Simon

Team: Woodcock; McMullen, McAulay, Bishop, Beith; Cusick, Cook, McDonald, Spankie; MacLean, Brazil. Subs: Rennie, Collier, Farquharson + 3 others


Arbroath entertained Dundee on a warm, sunny evening in front of a crowd of 600 or so, most of whom were sporting dark blue favours (though the team was in a Forfar shade of blue on this occasion). In contrast, the officials were clad in fluorescent yellow and certainly stood out from the players. The visitors included several players with first-team experience and looked set to give the Lichties a stern test before the season’s opener against Peterhead in the Bells Challenge Cup on Saturday.


The Arbroath back four began well and looked more solid than on recent showings, with McAulay demonstrating that concentration and positioning can more than make up for a lack of pace. The early play was fairly even, with Dundee putting together elegant passing moves and using the full width of the pitch, while Arbroath sought to work the ball forward to Swankie wide on the left or to Brazil as a target man. The wide player was having more of an effect and was beating the Dundee full-back with some ease to put in a number of dangerous crosses. Unfortunately no Arbroath player was able to get on the end of them. McLean was looking rather out-of-sorts and short on the extra yard in comparison to the Dundee defenders, but his mood was to improve later. Arbroath were holding their own in midfield, with Cusick and the advancing Beith showing some good touches, and the defence was holding the line to prevent the Dundee forwards from using their pace to get round the back. However Dundee did score mid-way through the first half following some skilful individual play and a strong shot past Woodcock from the edge of the box. Until half time the play was fairly even, although Dundee looked more likely to break through and add to their score.


Arbroath made two substitutions at half-time, Rennie (in midfield) for Cusick, and Farky for Cook, who had taken a couple of knocks. Things began well for the Lichties, with McLean gathering the ball wide on the right following pressure from Rennie, beating the full back and slotting the ball past Soutar from a narrow angle 6 yards out after about 50 minutes. He seemed very pleased to have scored against his old team and it proved to be a turning point as he looked much more up for it from then on. However, Dundee had most of the possession and exerted pressure for long periods. Swankie moved deep, almost to right full back, and Brazil had to do a lot of chasing back to bolster the midfield. There were a number of attempts on goal from Dundee, at least two of which looked to be goal-bound but were somehow kept out. Bishop in particular was having an excellent game and if I was the manager I would keep this back four to start on Saturday, and not be tempted to revert to Rennie in the centre. Given time I believe he could provide options in midfield, particularly if McGlashan or Cusick is missing, but despite his fitness and obvious ability he has serious shortcomings as a central defender. Timmy was having a ‘torrid time’ and was beginning to flap a bit under pressure, going for balls he had no chance of getting near and ending up out of position. However he had a decent game overall, his distribution was mostly good and he was keeping his defence right, so it would be a pity if he did not start the cup game, given that Inglis is returning from injury and is short of match practice. Brazil, who had worked hard for no reward, was replaced by Collier, who impressed with his running and strength on the ball. Farky was looking lively after his disappointing showing on Saturday. He was making good progress up the left and showed the Dundee defence a clean pair of heels on two or three occasions with his pace when running with the ball. As the game progressed, there were some tired legs in evidence and we had few players able to make much impact in forward positions. However McLean had saved something for later and advanced towards the box with the ball at his feet. He was away from his Dundee marker and was caught late as he moved into the box, to earn a penalty after about 70 minutes, which he took himself. Although Soutar got a strong left hand to it he could only deflect the ball into the corner of the net, much to the delight of the small band of fans in the Harbour End, some of whom were suggesting that he was too preoccupied with other activities requiring the use of his hands following his claims that the offence was committed outside the box. Dundee continued to weave a web around the Arbroath players, but thanks to solid defending and a bit of Lichtie Luck they did not add to their tally and Arbroath gained their first pre-season win against a testing team.


A much better performance than against Keith on Saturday (though with a more serious intent, as no gratuitous substitutions were made), which if repeated in the cup game should see us through. Definitely our best back line on show, although someone (possibly Cook) will have to make way if McGlashan comes back in. There is also a question of where (or if) Miller will fit into things. Up front, McLean has the ability and pace when he can be arsed and Swankie has started the campaign very strongly. Brazil found life hard last night, but stuck at it.  He has a good touch and against weaker defenders he may prove to be the man for the job. We are fortunate to have two young men challenging for centre forward as Collier demonstrated that he is also eager to get involved. There will be competition for places, and Kirk could try a bit of psychology, starting with the young lads and asking them to make life hard for him by keeping the ‘old men’ out. Personally I believe this manager is a better judge of players than either Brownlie or Baikie and has clearly got their respect, so now it is down to them to do it on the park. Also, he is working on a tighter budget, and not bringing in ‘seasoned pros’ (i.e. has-beens or ‘superstars’ like our captain early last season). However there is a rumour circulating concerning Ross Graham and a possible Lichtie comeback…