Peterhead FC: Toon only manage 1-1 draw with Albion
Two late goals saw a share of the points but the only winner here was the atrocious weather conditions that made what was set to be an attractive game into a lottery in farcical conditions, writes Jim Irving.
With the wind strong enough to send goal kicks almost back to the goalkeepers, the referee made a late decision that the game should go ahead, perhaps influenced by the distance the visitors and indeed he himself, would have to travel for a midweek re-arranged fixture.
As it was, it became clear virtually from the first whistle that the chances of a decent match were going to be zero.
The Blue Toon were forced to send out a severely depleted team minus the services of talismanic top scorer Rory MacAllister, Bryan Gilfillan, Fraser McLaren, Craig Tully as well as Dean Richardson.
Dean Cowie had been ill most of the week leading up to the game so it was no surprise that Jim McInally was barely able to muster enough players for the bench.
Albion had the ferocious wind at their backs in the first half and had marginally the better chances, Ciaran Donnelly then Alan Reid peppering the home goal from distance, both held by Graeme Smith who then made a fine save from Liam Cusack who struck a magnificent 25 yard that the keeper palmed up and over on the half hour.
At the other end Graeme Sharp saw a 20th minute shot deflected low into the arms of Mark Parry then the game’s best chance to date saw Ryan McCann hammer a shot from a neat Andy Rodgers pass forward off the crossbar.
The second half was one way traffic towards the Rover’s goal and for that reason a draw will be seen as a disappointment given the number of chances that were created although the swirling conditions made the ball as difficult to control as a warm bar of soap in a bath.
Four minutes after the restart Jamie Redman sent Rodgers clear but his curled shot was touched wide by Parry setting the tone for the remainder of the match.
A Sharp corner was deflected goal-ward by an Albion defender then cleared off the goal line, Steven Noble headed a right wing cross from Sharp into the side netting, Jordan Brown headed over then against the far post as the visitors goal led a charmed life.
With the game being blown towards a goalless draw, what looked like being a smash and grab raid came out the blue with seven minutes remaining.
Albion broke down the left, the ball was played to Mark McGuigan on the right side of the home penalty area and the number nine angled a low shot into the corner.
Back came Peterhead and deservedly levelled with a goal that typified the weather conditions.
McCann took a corner on the left and lofted it high into the six yard box and straight towards Parry. Nine times out of ten he would have grabbed or punched the ball but instead the flight seemed to change and as the keeper flapped, the ball was whipped beyond him to square the match.
After the match, Blue Toon boss Jim McInally said: “You cannot really speak about a game of football because it was pretty bizarre.
“The first time Albion went up the park in the second half, they scored.
“Then Ryan’s corner went straight in assisted by the wind.
“We could have lost but we have come away with a point and I have told the players that I cannot spend any time discussing the game.”
When asked whether the game should even have gone ahead - given the conditions - McInally responded: “With us having so many players out it would have been easy for me to call for it to be postponed but I thought the fairest thing to do was just to try to play the game because Albion had come here and their supporters as well.”
Peterhead: Smith, Sharp, Noble, Donaldson, Ross, Cowie, Rodgers, Redman, McCann, Brown (Buchan 80), Strachan;
Unused: Jarvie, McGlinchey, Tait
Referee – B Baxter
Attendance – 423