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Peterhead 1 Alloa Athletic 1

Wed 16 Nov 2011

The Blue Toon's improved form of late continued as they showed a battling spirit to grind out a point against high-flying Alloa Athletic.

Both sides were tipped to be closely matched at the sharp end of the league following relegation and subsequently overhauling their squads in the summer.

But after a close cup encounter at the start of the season, which Peterhead eventually won on penalties, their seasons have differed dramatically.

The Blue Toon lie just two points off the bottom of the table and recently replaced John Sheran with Jim McInally, while Paul Hartley has moulded an attractive Wasps side who sit second in the table.

The early part of McInally's reign at Balmoor has been spent trying to eradicate defensive errors which have blighted the side over the past 18 months, and there are signs his influence is starting to pay off as his men already look harder to beat.

That said, they had suffered defeat to leaders Annan Athletic in midweek, and there was one change to the side which had played that game, as Paul Watson dropped to the bench to be replaced by Lewis Davidson.

And the Blue Toon had an early sight of goal, but Dennis Wyness was unlucky to see his effort from close range blocked on the line.

It was Hartley's side, though, who would take of the first half, and veteran hitman Robbie Winters, perhaps inspired by Kenny Miller's Scotland goal on Friday night, pulled down a long ball after 11 minutes, only to see his quick lob drop over the crossbar.
Winters' captain and former Aberdeen team-mate Darren Young pulled a shot wide from the edge of the box, but it was midfield partner Ryan McCord who came closest to breaking the deadlock.

On the half-hour, he curled in a free kick from the left wing which evaded everyone and looked to be heading towards the top corner of the net, before Peterhead's former Wasps' keeper Raymond Jellema palmed the ball to safety.

The keeper was helpless when McCord tried his luck again from 25 yards three minutes before the interval, looking on as the former Dundee United man's effort crashed back off the crossbar.

Peterhead improved, after the interval, and a neat interchange between Rory McAllister and Bryan Deasley saw the former Dundee winger shuffle the ball onto his left foot before curling wide.
Alloa responded as Winters pulled out onto the right flank to orchestrate a move involving Ross McCord and Graeme Holmes, who found Kevin Cawley with his low cross, but the former Celtic man struck over the bar.

Peterhead had by now replaced Wyness with Martin Bavidge, and the striker posed a fresh problem for the Wasps defence who had previously looked solid.

The added aerial presence of Bavidge was evident as he got in to put goalkeeper Craig McDowall under pressure from a Davidson cross. The experienced hitman flicked the ball away from the keeper, but Dave Ross was unable to turn the ball home left-footed.

Peterhead were now looking much more comfortable in possession and perhaps even looked the more likely to open the scoring when they were hit with a cruel sucker punch.
Alloa substitute Armand One used his imposing physique to out-jump Bavidge at the near post, turning home Ryan McCord's corner at the near post with just shy of 15 minutes remaining.

Just a few weeks ago, that would have seen Peterhead buckle, but not so now. Instead they pushed forward in search of an equaliser, and that was rewarded.

McAllister won a corner down the Peterhead right, and Deasley's inswinging delivery put McDowall under pressure, the goalkeeper punching the ball into his own net as he attempted to clear the danger.

That sealed what was a deserved share of the points for McInally's men, and though they now have to put their improved defending together with the attacking prowess shown earlier in the season, the result will be a boost ahead of next Saturday's William Hill Scottish Cup trip to Inverurie Locos.

PETERHEAD: Raymond Jellema, Davie Donald, Lewis Davidson, Ryan Strachan, Callum Macdonald, Scott Ross, Dennis Wyness (Martin Bavidge, 64), Jamie Redman, Rory McAllister, Bryan Deasley, Dave Ross. Subs not used: Paul Watson, Roy McBain, Shaun Robertson, Paul Jarvie (gk).

Booked: Scott Ross.

ALLOA ATHLETIC: Craig McDowall, Mark McCullagh, James Doyle, Ben Gordon, Ryan Harding, Darren Young, Ross McCord (Mark Docherty, 64), Ryan McCord, Robbie Winters (Armand One, 67), Graeme Holmes, Kevin Cawley (Max Wright, 86). Subs not used: Craig Campbell, Scott Bain (gk).

Booked: Ryan McCord, Ryan Harding.

Referee: Mat Northcroft.

Attendance: 528