scottish cup 3rd round
Peterhead suffered their second defeat to Stranraer in the space of four days – and on this occasion, it was at the expense a place in the potentially lucrative fourth round ofthe Scottish Cup.
The match also saw the dismissal of yet another Blue Toon player – which left manager Jim McInally barely able to contain his frustration in the aftermath as the club’s disciplinary record is starting to take on embarrassing proportions.
It was the last thing McInally needed with several players still unavailable, but he sought consolation in the fact that the squad is gradually being bolstered with returns from injury.
One player who may not be available for a while is Nicky Riley, who has shown up welll in his loan spell from Dundee.
He is set to leave his parent club and looks unlikely to be able to play for another side until January, although McInally said he was in discussion with Dundee to see if options were available.
This was a tale of half chances missed by the home side, whilst a decent looking Stranraer outfit always had a goal in them – and when it came, the Blue Toon rarely looked like salvaging a replay. The visitors looked the more deadly in an end-to-end first half.
Craig Malcolm passed up a glorious opportunity in the seventh minute, giving Graeme Smith the chance to save with his left leg with a shot which should have been a goal from six yards out.
Soon after, Chris Aitken swept a 25-yard effort centimetres wide, while the ever-dangerous Jamie Longworth curled a shot high but not far beyond the far post.
Peterhead could and probably should have scored from a handful of chances created – Rory McAllister and Jamie Stevenson the men in question, but David Mitchell in the visitors’ goal was never really tested.
Stranraer worryingly began the second half in determined mood, and Smith had to be on his toes to keep a series of shots blocked and tipped clear.
It was therefore no real surprise when what proved to be the winner materialised in the 61st minute. The goal was crafted down the left after a Blue Toon attack broke down.
Longworth was the instigator, and after his initial ball into the area was poorly cleared, it found its way back to him and he finished in style with a well-placed shot into the corner.
Chances of a comeback were dealt a blow less than two minutes later. As Willie Gibson sped through the midfield like a man on a mission, his progress was halted by a cynical sliding challenge from Reece Donaldson.
Referee Graham deemed excessive force had been used to break up the attack and while most inside the ground felt a caution would have been the correct decision, Donaldson walked.
A replay might have been achieved in the 78th minute with a long-distance Riley shot that carried power and precision but with the ball destined for the top left corner, keeper Mitchell leapt to touch the ball clear. A superb save and one that was to break Peterhead hearts.
It’s back to league business on Saturday and a potentially tasty encounter at Balmoor against Dunfermline. With the sides having met not that long ago at East End Park and the Blue Toon getting three players sent off before half time, not to mention the fall-out afterwards on social media, the build-up should ensure an entertaining encounter.
PETERHEAD: Smith, Donaldson, Noble (Brown 85), Ross, Smith (Rodger 70), Strachan, Millar (Gilfillan 78), Redman, McAllister, Stevenson, Riley. Subs (unused): Jarvie, Richardson.