Arbroath: Woodcock; McMullen McAuley, Bishop, Beith; Miller, Cusick, McDonald, Swankie; Brazil, McLean. Subs: Rennie, Cook, Henslee, Collier, Inglis (GK)
Goals: Cusick 2, Bavidge 34, 49, Gibson 54, Buchan 65, McLean 75
Peterhead featured half a dozen ex-Premier players plus the prolific Bavidge latterly of ICT in their line-up. They kicked off towards the Harbour End watched by a decent following of 100 or so supporters, joining the 400 Arbroath fans. The Blue Toon had their first shot after all of 20 seconds, which passed a couple of yards wide of Woodcock’s right-hand post. However it was Arbroath who drew first blood shortly afterwards. The ball was worked forwards to Brazil who drew two defenders and the keeper and unselfishly played across goal to an unmarked Cusick from the right of the 6 yard box, who knocked the ball in to an empty net after 2 minutes. However that was pretty much the only goalmouth action of note at the Switchie End for the remainder of the half as Peterhead dominated the lightweight Arbroath midfield and kept Woodcock on his toes for long periods. Corners and crosses rained in with McAulay and Woodcock often unable to make contact, and a goal looked inevitable. A cross from the right was met by a diving header from Bavidge to level the score after 34 minutes. Rather fortunately for Arbroath the sides went in level at half-time. Ex-Lichtie Raeside and ex-United and Aberdeen central defender Perry were totally dominant at the back for the visitors, with Bavidge looking dangerous each time he got the ball. For Arbroath, Swankie was having another good game and Bishop was doing his best at the back but these individual contributions could not turn the game their way.
The second half began badly for Arbroath. A powerful shot aimed just under the bar by Bavidge was met by Woodcock who got a hand to the ball but failed to deflect it over. 2-1 to the visitors, the maroon jerseys looked dejected and were totally over-run for the next 20 minutes. Despite the introduction of Rennie for the injured Beith they could not stem the blue tide and Peterhead increased their lead through ex-Montrose player Gibson on 54 minutes, and ex-Don Buchan then made it 4 after 65 with a good individual goal. There was the prospect of a morale-deflating hammering in store for Arbroath, but Peterhead took their foot off the throttle and sat rather deeper in midfield see the game out. The Lichties rallied somewhat when Henslee and Cook was introduced for the sorry figure of Cusick and either Miller or McDonald, and several chances were created. Fortunately heads did not go down and Arbroath entered their best attacking spell of the game, winning several corners. From one of these Swankie hit a low curving ball towards the near post which McLean flicked in artistically with the side of his foot to reduce the arrears to 2. McLean was then denied what seemed a strong penalty claim when he was awarded a free-kick after being impeded with his body most definitely within the box. The effort from Swankie ended up wide of the goal. Brazil then had two good opportunities to find the net, the best being a free header from the penalty spot, and Henslee snatched at an excellent opportunity to put pressure on the opposition for the last 10 minutes and force extra-time. The game ended with two or three breaks upfield by Peterhead with all the Arbroath players committed to attack but the ball passed narrowly wide of the goal for the score to remain at least respectable.
A poor display overall by Arbroath albeit against a physically strong, skilful and well-organised Peterhead team filled with ex-Premier and first division players. One must hope that there are not many second division outfits who could match them, otherwise the season is going to be long, painful and very disappointing. Bishop at the back (despite the four goals) was again Arbroath man of the match, and Brazil, McLean and Swankie, give the impression that goals should continue to come. Midfield was posted absent for long spells and until McGlashan returns it is hard to see where the physical presence and drive will come from. Cusick was anonymous and hardly played a pass forward throughout his spell on the pitch. Cook looked more creative but by the time he came on the game was lost and Peterhead were less prepared to press forward in numbers. Perhaps a compromise is to include Rennie in midfield in place of Cusick or perhaps McDonald so that we have the option of an extra defender at set-pieces. But frankly today we would have struggled with 13 players on the park.