the Courier: IT’S SHOWDOWN Sunday at Station Park after a goalless Gayfield draw left the Angus play-off final balanced on a knife edge, writes Graham Brown.
A nervy affair produced few real chances of note, but there was enough spice to keep a 1000-plus crowd entertained and the weekend looks like bringing in another bumper turnout for the winner-takes-all affair.
Loons boss Dick Campbell will also be hoping home advantage may settle his side after announcing himself the more pleased of the two Angus managers.
“Our game plan was to make sure we were still in the game on Sunday and so from that point of view I’ve no complaints,” said Campbell.
“I don’t think our keeper had a save to make and both teams pretty well balanced each other out.
“I don’t think it was a classic, but on Sunday we should get the biggest crowd that Station Park’s seen for a long time and promotion is there for somebody so it’s definitely game on,” Campbell added.
Arbroath assistant Kevin McGowne feels his side must sharpen up their attack if second division status is to be secured. “I thought it was a nervy affair with very little football played, so 0-0 was probably a fair result,” he said.
“Both teams will still think they have got a great chance, but we have to do better going forward.” He added, “One goal was going to win the game and it didn’t come, but from our point of view that’s probably as poor as we’ve played in the last dozen or so games.”
Bryan Scott and Jamie Redman returned to Jim Weir’s line-up, with Forfar boss Campbell giving Graham Gibson and Chris Templeman a start.
Arbroath offered Gibson an early opening with a slack cross- field pass, but Callum Booth rescued the situation when he raced to foil the Forfar man’s charge with a good stand-side tackle.
Forfar’s Andy Tod had two headed opportunities in the opening quarter hour, the first held by home keeper Darren Hill and then an effort over the top after a Mark McCulloch cross was deflected into his path.
Barry Sellars was the game’s first booking for a 20th minute trip on Jamie Redman, and he was joined by the home side’s Ian Nimmo for getting involved with his former team-mate.
Arbroath then found the impetus to launch their best spell of the opening period, firstly through Scott who weaved a great path into the visitors’ area but found his path blocked by force of Sky Blue numbers.
Euan Moyes then shot past from just inside the area before Steven Doris should have done better than blast a good opportunity well wide. Scott then had a good volley on the turn blocked as the Lichties continued to grow in confidence.
Forfar’s Mark McCulloch became his side’s second booking on the half hour after bringing down on-loan Pittodrie youngster Mitch Megginson.
Arbroath’s continuing pressure yielded a good run from Booth but one touch too much cost him a clear shooting chance. A good McCulloch corner then brought a fine push away from Loons keeper McLean. Scott flashed the Lichties’ last chance of the half just past, but it was the Loons who had the final effort of the opening period when Paul Watson shot over.
Pacy Megginson almost broke the deadlock for the Lichties within two minutes of the restart, his 22-yard right foot shot bringing an excellent stop from McLean.
Sellars then had a long range effort for the Station Park men before Tod headed their next chance past from a 55th minute Iain Campbell corner.
A brace of corners brought opportunities for Rattray and Redman as Weir’s side turned the heat up on their neighbours and sub Keith Gibson hit a dipping drive past.
In the 77th minute Templeman tumbled under a challenge in the area from Gerry McLaughlin, but was yellow carded as the ref instantly waved aside Loons penalty claims to the fury of visiting fans.
Campbell said, “Chris is angry he was booked, it was a good bit of skill but that’s the way the ref called it and I’m not going to say it was a penalty.”
Both sides had chances in the dying minutes, Watson had a left-foot shot over and Doris an angled volley from inside the Forfar area held by McLean.