The Blue Toon’s surprise 4-0 defeat to play off chasing Stirling Albion did little to dent the party mood at Balmoor, writes Jim Irving.
The celebrations after the final whistle on Saturday will stick long in the memory of all associated with Peterhead Football Club but the gloss was taken off the day by what must rank as the team’s poorest performance of the season.
With the title in the bag and the trophy set to be presented, a team with something to play for was the last thing the Blue Toon would have wanted but unfortunately that’s what they faced in a slick Albion side that literally scored with each shot on target.
The Binos thoroughly deserved their win and a shot at joining their hosts in Division One next season.
This was a match the home side simply never got going in and with sharp shooter Rory McAllister on the bench still nursing a stitched shin from a late challenge last week, fire power was a commodity in short supply in contrast to a clinical Stirling side.
The Albion keeper David Crawford had one of his easiest afternoons of the season as half chances, and not too many of them, were the best Peterhead could muster.
A mist shrouded Balmoor had to wait 27 long minutes before a hint of excitement.
An interception in midfield by Jordan Brown saw the midfielder carry the ball forward before releasing Fraser McLaren but his low, driven cross from the right side of the penalty area had no takers.
Three minutes later Graeme Sharp sent over a looping cross from much the same position but it evaded McLaren at the back post.
Stirling had looked comfortable without causing a threat but two goals inside six minutes virtually put the game to bed.
In the 35th minute a patient build up across the outside of the home penalty area saw David McLune send in a tempting cross and a devastating header by the impressive Craig Comrie was bulleted high into the net from eight yards.
A response looked likely when Peterhead earned a corner kick on the right but it was picked up by the Albion defence and launched forward. Sharp should have dealt with it better but uncharacteristically headed the ball straight to the marauding David Weatherston in midfield and he hared forward before placing his shot beyond Graeme Smith.
Surely the Blue Toon would be a transformed side after the break but not a bit of it and Stirling went on the rampage again six minutes after the re-start.
Jordan White played the ball square across the edge of the penalty area and Graham Weir sent a shot into the bottom corner almost in slow motion past the despairing grasp of Smith.
A not fully fit Andy Rodgers came off the bench but a wild header over the crossbar was the nearest he came to a consolation goal.
The rout was complete with fifteen minutes remaining and Peterhead again shot themselves in the foot.
The normally reliable Steven Noble sent a misplaced pass towards White in midfield.
His slide rule pass set up Comrie for his second goal of the afternoon which went in off the foot of Ross Smith.
Definitely a case of “after the lord mayor’s show” but the team have a chance to redeem themselves on Saturday at Berwick who still have play-off aspirations themselves.
Amidst the celebrations which followed the trophy presentation, boss Jim McInally said: “ It’s fantastic. I had to temper things after the game because the players were so disappointed with the results and the performance.
“I told them to forget about it.”
“A similar thing happened to me at Morton.
“On the day we won the league, we lost the game and I was angry so I vowed if I ever won a title for a second time I would never do that again.
“Stirling Albion had everything to play for coming here, so it was always going to be a tough game.
“But we beat them by 18 or 20 points over the season.”
“When a team plays with an edge, it can be tough.
“But our players have been different class throughout the season and deserve to be champions.”
Peterhead - Smith, Sharp, Noble, Smith, Ross, Cowie, McCann, Redman (Rodgers 51), McLaren, Brown (Gilfillan 64), Strachan (Cox 57);
Unused; Jarvie (GK), McAllister, Richardson, Low;
Referee – Nick Walsh
Attendance – 1,200