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Peterhead 1 Stenhousemuir 3 (AET)

Thu 22 Aug 2013

Peterhead lost out to ten-man League One side Stenhousemuir in the Second Round of the Ramsdens Cup – and again there was a feeling that Jim McInally’s side had shot themselves in the foot.

A glorious David Cox strike had the Blue Toon ahead midway through the first half, but Cox’s mistake led to a leveller for the visitors.

The Blue Toon had a golden chance to win the game when ex-Toon man Ross Smith was sent packing in giving away an injury-time penalty, but Ryan Strachan’s spot kick was saved and Stenny went on to win thanks to extra-time goals goals from Darren Smith and Ross McNeil.

With Rory McAllister serving the second of a two-game club suspension, and Andy Rodgers the first of a three-match SFA suspension for his red card on Saturday, Fraser McLaren was handed his first start up front, in place of Ryan McCann.

It was a side otherwise unchanged from the defeat to Stirling Albion, although there was a change of formation with Bryan Gilfillan starting in midfield having been part of a five-man defence at the weekend.

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It was the visitors who were quicker out of the trap and, after eight minutes, striker John Gemmell took advantage of a mix-up between Strachan and Scott Ross to get a shot away, but from 16 yards he hit wide of the target.

A couple of minutes later, Jordon Brown sent an acrobatic volley wide of Chris Smith’s right-hand post after Jamie Redman had headed down Steven Noble’s free-kick from the left.

Peterhead were beginning to settle into the game after a cagey start, and Redman deserved better from the next opportunity.

Ross lifted the ball forward, and Redman went past three Warriors defenders before directing a low, left-footed shot towards the bottom corner of the goal, only for Chris Smith to get down smartly to turn round the post.

Nobody could argue, on the balance of play, that the home side didn’t deserve their opener when it came – and what a goal it was.

Redman was again involved, flicking on a Graeme Smith goal kick for McLaren. He touched the ball to Brown, who lofted a superb pass over the head of Eddie Malone to Cox. The winger beat the offside trap, and raced in before lifting the ball high into the far top corner of the net.

Strachan became the first name in the book when he brought down Sean Dickson on the edge of the area. Gemmell took the resultant free-kick, but hit straight into the wall. It was, though, a warning shot from the ‘The Beast’.

And there was another soon after. He plucked a Chris Smith clearance out of the air and combined with Dickson before unloading from the edge of the ‘D’. Graeme Smith in the Peterhead goal was beaten, but the ball cannoned back off the upright.

There was confusion eight minutes from the break as referee Mat Northcroft penalised Malone for a backpass to goalkeeper Smith. Malone had clearly used his knee, a fact pointed out by the stand-side assistant, and play resumed with a drop-ball, which McLaren sportingly returned to Chris Smith.

The final chance of the first-half saw Gilfillan pick out the run of McLaren with a fine ball over the top. The ex-Berwick Rangers man brought it down well but flashed his effort across the face of goal.

There were no changes at the interval, but Craig Anderson lasted only two minutes of the second half before being withdrawn for McNeil, Anderson appearing to suffer a calf strain.

McLaren was causing problems in attack, and he picked off a Darren Smith pass before heading for the right wing. After beating the recovering Smith, he rolled a low pass into the path of Brown but the former Aberdeen man couldn’t direct his effort on target.

And Peterhead were punished for not taking their chances, when Gemmell capitalised on Cox’s mistake after 63 minutes.

Starved of options in midfield, the former Kilmarnock man was a little short in his pass-back to Graeme Smith and Gemmell’s run was enough for the goalkeeper to take his eye off the ball. Both missed it, but Gemmell reacted first to turn into the empty net.

Stenny had been the better side in the second half up until that point, but Peterhead were jolted into life and should have won the game in injury time.

Noble played a fine ball up the left channel for McLaren to run onto. He raced onto the ball and invited a clumsy challenge of Ross Smith. Smith took the bait, and referee Northcroft was left with no choice but to point to the spot, and dismiss Smith for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity.

With McAllister unavailable, it was Ryan Strachan who stepped up to the spot, but the former Celtic man sent his spot kick weakly to the left of Chris Smith, and the former St Mirren man saved comfortably.

If the penalty miss was a blow, the Blue Toon were utterly shell-shocked when they fell behind three minutes into extra-time.

It was a goal of the simplest nature. Chris Smith launched a free-kick into the far corner of the pitch. Gemmell peeled off his man and drilled a low cross across goal, and Darren Smith slid in to turn home from all of a yard, completing the triumvirate of Smith’s playing key roles in the game.

It could have been three after Brown was short with a ball intended for Ross. Sean Higgins stole in and slid a pass to Gemmell, but the striker hit wide of the target. Down 2-1 against ten men in extra-time of a cup-tie, McInally had thrown men forward in droves.

Graeme Sharp rolled back the years to reprise the left-wing role that was once his, and it almost paid dividends . He left Brown Ferguson for dead and sent a teasing ball to the near post from the bye-line, but McLaren was off-target with his header.

Patient play on the left saw Noble combine with McLaren before teeing up Brown. The midfielder worked the ball onto his left foot before sending in a low shot which deflected past the upright off sub Daniel Nimmo.

As more and more Peterhead men were thrown forward – they ended the match with just two men in defence – they became more susceptible to the counter attack, and in injury-time at the end of extra-time, they were caught out.

Dickson picked out the unmarked substitute McNeil from a throw-in, and the youngster went past McCann and Strachan before slotting past the unprotected Smith to wrap things up.

PETERHEAD: Graeme Smith, Graeme Sharp, Steven Noble, Ryan Strachan, Scott Ross, Dean Cowie (Conner McGlinchey, 70), David Cox (Kevin Buchan, 79), Jamie Redman, Fraser McLaren, Jordon Brown, Bryan Gilfillan (Ryan McCann, 79). Subs not used: Dean Richardson, Paul Jarvie (gk).

Booked: Strachan, Cowie, Brown, Buchan.

STENHOUSEMUIR: Chris Smith, Brown Ferguson (Robbie Duncan, 112), Alan Lawson (Daniel Nimmo, 91), Ross Smith, Eddie Malone, Craig Anderson (Ross McNeil, 47), Sean Dickson, Sean Lynch, John Gemmell, Sean Higgins, Darren Smith. Subs not used: Errol Douglas, Dean Shaw (gk).

Booked: R. Smith, Malone. Sent off: R. Smith.

Attendance: 473