A toothless display at Dumbarton as Peterhead’s despair deepens

PETERHEAD’S dramatic nosedive in fortunes continued as they lost out miserably in this game, rearranged from before Christmas.

Neale Cooper’s side looked toothless throughout and their task was made all the harder when Davie Donald – usually the most reliable of Blue Toon players – earned himself a red card shortly before the interval for a last-man foul.

The sides had met at Balmoor just a few days before and Peterhead were looking to avenge defeat to the Sons with a line-up that included Callum Macdonald, Paul Emslie and Conor Gethins at the expense of Scott Ross, Neil McVitie and Dennis Wyness.

It was always the home side, themselves resurgent after a change of manager, though, who looked the more likely.

On a dry but chilly evening at the Strathclyde Homes Stadium, striker Jon McShane was causing all sorts of problems for the Peterhead defence, firing over just before the quarter-hour mark before crashing a 25-yard free kick off the crossbar.

The on-loan St Mirren striker was involved again when his click from James Creaney’s free kick found Ryan McStay in the penalty area, but the midfielder nodded his effort wide.

It was one-way traffic so far, and Peterhead’s cause was not helped when Martin Bavidge was forced off through illness, with Wyness replacing him in attack.

It was only after that Peterhead began to show anything up front, with Gethins having three attempts in quick succession, none ever likely to find the back of the net.

It was progress though, but just when it looked like Peterhead might begin to really threaten, the hosts took the lead.

Pat Walker took a ball from midfield on the chest, and his pass gave Mark Gilhaney the simplest of tasks to stroke home from eight yards.

Peterhead went in search of a leveller and Ryan Strachan forced a save out of Sons keeper Stephen Grindlay following a good interchange with Dave Ross on the right, before Graeme Sharp’s follow-up was deflected wide.

But Peterhead’s task was made all the harder when Donald hauled back Gilhaney from Walker’s pass, and the defender was shown the inevitable red card for his indiscretion.

The hosts set about making their advantage work for them, and after Gilhaney slotted home his second from Andy Geggan’s pass, it was plain sailing for them. Peterhead could hardly get a touch of the ball, let alone put the home side under pressure.

Worse was to follow as Gilhaney turned provider, his low cross for Walker initially blocked by Macdonald, but the ball fell to McShane who powered past Bateman from 14 yards for a well-deserved goal.

The Sons had chances to bag more but were happy to settle for a 3-0 win that extended their run of form to six unbeaten, five of those wins. The result left Peterhead desperately hoping for improvement in Saturday’s match away to bottom side Stenhousemuir, the hosts able to move within a point of the Blue Toon, with two games in hand, should they ensure victory.

PETERHEAD: Bateman,

Donald, Stirling Smith, Stuart Smith, Macdonald, Emslie

(McVitie, 69), Sharp, D. Ross, Bavidge (Wyness, 23 (Clark, 69)), Strachan, Gethins. Subs not used: S. Ross, Jarvie (gk).