sfl league one
AYR UNITED 0
One of Peterhead’s best displays in a long time saw two smartly taken goals and 90 minutes of impressive football to help put the trauma of the previous week’s trip to Dunfermline behind them.
Several more goals from the chances created would not have been an injustice on the visitors who were poor throughout belying their play-off spot position they occupied arriving at Balmoor Stadium.
It was a depleted squad that faced the Honest Men with Steven Noble, Jamie Redman and Jordan Brown all sitting in the stand after seeing red in the first half of the trip to East End Park.
Dean Cowie was missing injured but the good news was the return to the squad of Jamie Stevenson and Andy Rodgers.
Another bonus was the first half performance of on-loan signing Nicky Riley.
His livewire display could have earned him a debut goal and certainly, it appeared an early penalty.
After just five minutes a Rory McAllister backheel sent him scampering away to the right of goal where his foot was caught by the hand of David Hutton but to the keeper’s relief the referee waved play on.
McAllister should have scored when the ball was subsequently played across goal to him but he shot wide.
Six minutes later Scott Ross had a shot cleared off the line then Brian Gilfillan had a similar experience with both going out for corner kicks.
Hutton was in action again with a fine save from Reece Donaldson, reveling in his role pushing forward a la Noble, and then the Keeper saved with his foot after Riley slipped in McAllister.
The Somerset park side were rarely a threat and when they did it was from two powerful but misplaced headers, first from Ryan Donnelly then Michael Donald, both following corner kicks.
The Blue Toon continued to make all the running after the break.
Eight minutes after the re-start a terrific long range effort from Stevenson wasn’t far away followed a minute later by a McAllister break forward after being sent clear and, had the striker been in form of old, he would have dinked the ball past Hutton rather than giving him the chance to get a hand on the ball.
Were Peterhead set to rue all these missed chances?
The answer turned out to be no, thanks to a couple of clinically taken goals.
In the 56thminute McAllister saw a shot blocked by Hutton on the right side of the area after a burst down the wing by man-of-the-match Graeme Sharp and Stevenson was well placed to send the loose ball home in style rattling his shot into the corner.
Riley had another chance of a debut goal with a shot he hit in his stride but it went a posts width wide but moments later the lead was doubled, Ryan Strachan making no mistake with a crisp shot following a Ryan McCann cut back.
Sharp was playing his last match before heading to work in Athens and in a nice touch by manager Jim McInally, despite all three substitutions having been made, he brought the winger turned full back off moments from the end to receive a well-deserved and heart felt standing ovation from the fans.
Commenting after the game, Blue Toon boss Jim McInally said he was delighted with his team’s performance.
“We played a lot of good stuff, particularly in the first half,” he said. “We had more of a cutting edge in the second period and we saw out the game really well. I don’t think Graeme Smith had a save to make all game.
“I really enjoyed watching as we were patient, passed the ball well and had really good shape. It was probably our most convincing performance of the season.”
PETERHEAD: Smith, Sharp, Donaldson, Smith, Ross, Strachan, Millar (McCann 54), (Richardson 67), Gilfillan (Cox 25), McAllister, Stevenson, Riley. Subs (unused): Jarvie, Rodgers.