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Peterhead 2 Elgin City 2

Mon 26 Aug 2013

Stephen O'Neill in action on his debut Stephen O'Neill in action on his debut

Peterhead might have avoided defeat in the first North Derby of the season, but they continued the theme of the early season by making things hard for themselves against a fired-up Elgin City side.

The visitors had travelled to Balmoor looking to make a positive impression after going down 5-1 to Steve Paterson’s Formartine United in midweek, while Jim McInally’s side also went out of the Ramsdens Cup at the hands of Stenhousemuir.

They were 2-0 up through former Peterhead strikers Dennis Wyness and Craig Gunn, but Blue Toon debutant Ryan McGeever and midfielder Bryan Gilfillan netted to earn a point.

Ryan McGeever had a mixed debut

McGeever had been signed on loan from Falkirk prior to the match, and he started alongside Scott Ross in the centre of defence. Fellow loan signing Stephen O’Neill was on the bench alongside Ryan Strachan, who made way for McGeever.

Rory McAllister came back into the Blue Toon side following his well-publicised absence, though Dean Cowie missed out due to work commitments.

The new look front pairing of McAllister and Fraser McLaren showed early signs of promise, as the pair linked up following Jamie Redman’s pass, but McAllister’s shot was comfortably dealt with by another former Peterhead man in the Elgin City ranks, Ray Jellema.

However it was the visitors who drew first blood, and it was all too simple for Ross Jack’s side.

Ross initially did well to challenge Shane Sutherland after the former Caley Thistle man had neatly controlled a long, angled pass from Ross McKinnon, but Sutherland kept his composure to cut back for Wyness who had the simplest of tasks to touch home from close range.

Stung into action, the Blue Toon pressed forward a minute later, but Jellema was off his line quickly to turn David Cox’s low effort wide of the post, after a well-constructed attack.

On the half-hour, Elgin could have extended their lead as David Niven peeled off his man to get on the end of a McKinnon free-kick, but his low shot was blocked by the legs of Graeme Smith in the home goal.

The determination of Wyness saw him prod a ball through to Sutherland, but despite the youngster getting the ball out from between his legs, his shot was again saved by Smith.

At the other end, Jordon Brown tested Jellema with a 20 yard drive which the former Alloa goalkeeper beat away, McAllister scooping over the ball after the rebound had fallen to him.

Jellema was tested again shortly before the interval. McLaren crossed from the left, McAllister headed back across goal, and Brown directed his header towards target, the goalkeeper stretching high to his left to claw the effort away.

McAllister threatened soon after the interval, but Peterhead again had Smith to thank for keeping them in the game when he again saved well from Niven after the City skipper had thrown himself at Gunn’s cross.

But the keeper was powerless to prevent Gunn extending the lead after 77 minutes, and it was not a moment McGeever will want to re-live.

The 18-year old was short with his pass-back towards Smith, and Gunn took full advantage, homing in on Smith and sliding a low effort past the goalkeeper.

McGeever was clearly keen to atone for his error, and did so just two minutes later. He found himself in space at the back post from a Cox corner, and was able to power a header into the ground and high into the net.

That proved encouragement for the Blue Toon, and McGeever was again involved as they levelled the scores.

Cox sent a free-kick deep to the far post. It was partially cleared, but McGeever hooked across goal for McAllister, whose knock-down was turned home by Gilfillan.

And they could even have won it in the final minute. McAllister found Graeme Sharp wide on the right, and his shot was turned wide by the touch of McLaren.

It was another frustrating outing for Peterhead, who showed great character to get back into the game, but will need to stop giving away free goals if they want to take anything against unbeaten league leaders East Stirling next Saturday.

PETERHEAD: Graeme Smith, Graeme Sharp, Steven Noble, Ryan McGeever, Scott Ross, Bryan Gilfillan, David Cox, Jamie Redman, Rory McAllister, Jordon Brown (Stephen O’Neill, 60), Fraser McLaren. Subs not used: Ryan Strachan, Conner McGlinchey, Dean Richardson, Kevin Buchan, Jake Fitzgerald, Paul Jarvie (gk).

Booked: McAllister.

ELGIN CITY: Ray Jellema, David Niven, Trialist, Sean Crighton, Jamie Diff, Graeme Beveridge, Craig Gunn, Brian Cameron, Dennis Wyness, Shane Sutherland, Ross McKinnon. Subs not used: Paul Harkins, Ciaran Maclean, Sam Urquhart, Adam Macleod, Connor Macaulay, Paul McMullan, Stewart Black (gk).

Booked: Trialist, Gunn.

Attendance: 543.