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Peterhead 2 Annan Ath 2

Sun 11 Aug 2013

Gilfillan heads home Gilfillan heads home

Peterhead twice had to come from behind to kick off their league campaign with a draw at home to Annan Athletic – but in the end could have won the game against Jim Chapman’s side.

David Hopkirk twice put the visitors ahead but former Annan pair Bryan Gilfillan and David Cox each found the net against their former club to secure the points.

Missing Ryan Strachan through suspension, Scott Ross was called back into action in the centre of defence, while Bryan Gilfillan started in place of the injured Ryan McCann.

The first real effort in anger came from the boot of McAllister. He brought down Jamie Redman’s flick on his knee and struck a left-footed volley on the spin, the shot spinning up and over the bar.

Annan looked a threat, and after Peter Weatherson had seen a shot turned away for a corner. From the set piece, the ball was cleared as far as Matty Flynn, and his driven effort from 20-yards was blocked by Graeme Sharp.

Flynn was involved again as the visitors took the lead after 24 minutes. He sent a great ball over the top, and Hopkirk got in front of Scott Ross to take the ball round Graeme Smith and slide into the net.

Cox celebrates his goal

Brown missed a gilt-edged change to level the scores when McAllister burst clear on the left, and outbattled Annan full-back Steven Black, before squaring for the former Dons youngster, who somehow hit wide from eight yards.

Within sixty seconds, Ross was left to breathe a sigh of relief. He and Hopkirk collided just outside the area as they chased another long ball out of defence, but referee Kevin Graham deemed that it had been an accidental collision rather than a foul.

After the restart, Peterhead looked a different team, and they came mighty close to levelling when Gilfillan knocked down a McAllister pass for Brown on the edge of the area, the young midfielder unleashing a superb volleyed strike that fizzed narrowly wide.

It was the home side who were making all the running at this point, and they managed to get themselves level a minute later.

Cox hung a corner up to the back post, and utility man Gilfillan climbed up and over McAllister at the back post to squeeze a header past Alex Mitchell in the visitors’ goal.

With the flow of play, it seemed the goal would provide a platform from which the Blue Toon could build, but their good work was undone within a minute, and again it was a soft goal to lose.

From the kick-off, Annan worked the ball back to the experienced Weatherson. He lifted the ball over the top, and Hopkirk beat the onrushing Smith to the ball before lofting delightfully over the stricken goalkeeper and into the net.

Peterhead could have been back on level terms when Weatherson sliced a clearance up in the air, just after the hour mark. Mitchell would have been within his rights to catch the ball as there was certainly no intent to play a pass-back, but the goalkeeper opted to deal with the situation with his feet.

He, too, sliced the ball under pressure from McAllister, and was delighted to grasp the ball as it came back at him off the inside of his own upright. Blushes spared all round.

Peterhead brought on former Gretna and Berwick winger Fraser McLaren as a trialist with 25 minutes left, as they threw men forward in a bid to rescue the game. That meant Gilfillan dropped into the back four, with Steven Noble returning to his more familiar left-back slot.

However, the visitors should have tied the match up after 73 minutes, and it would have been a self-inflicted wound. Weatherson’s long ball should have been dealt with by Graeme Sharp, but he was caught in possession by Hopkirk. The striker homed in on goal but unselfishly opted to play in Kenny Mackay, who saw his shot saved by Smith in the Peterhead goal.

The Blue Toon were running short of defenders though; Scott Ross suffered cramp and had to be replaced by Andy Rodgers, with Jamie Redman dropping to the heart of defence alongside Gilfillan. Then Noble went off with an ankle knock, to be replaced by Dean Richardson.

And Richardson was involved in the equaliser with five minutes remaining. He slid a ball up the channel to McAllister, who laid the ball into the path of Cox.

The former Annan striker cut inside, and from the edge of the area he drilled a low shot beyond Mitchell, finding the bottom-left corner of the net.

They had chances to win it. McLaren raced in from the right to meet Richardson’s deep cross with a first-time strike, but taking the ball awkwardly with his left-foot, the winger turned over the bar.

With almost the last kick of the ball, McAllister should have found the net. Rodgers flicked on a Sharp cross, and the former Brechin man set himself, only to scuff his shot wide of the far post.

PETERHEAD: Graeme Smith, Graeme Sharp, Conner McGlinchey (Trialist, 66), Scott Ross (Andy Rodgers, 74), Steven Noble (Dean Richardson, 80), Dean Cowie, David Cox, Jamie Redman, Rory McAllister, Jordon Brown, Bryan Gilfillan. Subs not used: Kevin Buchan, Jake Fitzgerald, Paul Jarvie (gk).

ANNAN ATHLETIC: Alex Mitchell, Iain Chisholm, Peter Bradley, Steven Black, Peter Watson, Steven Sloan, Kenny Mackay (Chris Jardine, 79), Matty Flynn, Peter Weatherson, David Hopkirk, Ally Love. Subs not used: Kieran Brannan, Scott Davidson, Jordan Moffat, Danny Graham, Kieran McCrudden, Kenny Arthur (gk).

Booked: Steven Black.

Attendance: 504.