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Peterhead 1 Albion Rovers 1

Tue 17 Dec 2013

Peterhead were knocked off the top of the table after they could only secure a draw in a game played in farcical weather conditions.

With winds and rain so strong that referee Billy Baxter only gave the match the go-ahead half an hour before kick-off, there was not much on offer in terms of a spectacle, until Rovers took the lead in the dying stages through Mark McGuigan.

The Blue Toon’s response was almost instant, though the wind played a role in Ryan McCann netting direct from a corner.

There were three changes to the side that had beaten Clyde at Broadwood last week, and they were all enforced. Striker Rory McAllister, midfielder Bryan Gilfillan and defender Craig Tully all missed out, and were replaced by McCann, Jordon Brown and Ryan Strachan respectively.

Fraser McLaren was also unavailable, and with Dean Richardson on the long term injured list following an accident last weekend, there were only four substitutes available to Jim McInally.

The visitors had the benefit of the wind first, and Graeme Smith had to be on constant alert, Ciaran Donnelly the first to threaten with a shot from outside the area which Smith handled confidently.

Keeping the ball on the deck was the only way to play against the wind and when Steven Noble’s run was brought to an end by the challenge of Mark McGuigan on the edge of the box, Graeme Sharp sent the loose ball towards goal but a deflection took the ball straight into the arms of Neil Parry.

But with the wind blowing towards the Balmoor Terrace end, Rovers were a constant threat. Alan Reid tried his luck from distance, before both McGuigan and Liam Cusack tested Smith and were met with steely resistance.

Ryan McCann

Cusack would test Smith again after 33 minutes, his cross from the right blown towards goal and forcing Smith to push over the crossbar.

But the Blue Toon came closest yet to breaking the deadlock shortly before the interval. Andy Rodgers slipped in McCann whose shot had Parry well beaten, but came off the crossbar.

After the turnaround, it was the home side who began to push forward in droves. Just five minutes into the second period, Jamie Redman flicked on a Smith clearance for Rodgers who worked space but saw his curling effort pushed away by Parry.

Just before the hour, a delivery from Sharp found captain Noble at the back post, but the former Stranraer man could only send his header into the side netting.

But against the run of play, it was James Ward’s side who took the lead.

Barry Russell cut out a Strachan pass and sent Cusack away. He played in McGuigan on the right side of the penalty area, and the on-loan Partick Thistle striker took a touch before angling low into the far corner of the net.

The lead lasted just three minutes, though and the conditions undoubtedly played a part as former Queen of the South midfielder McCann found the net. His inswinging corner from the left was caught by a strong gust, and left Parry helpless as the ball sailed beyond him and into the net.

Elsewhere, Clyde beat Montrose 2-0 to climb back to the top of the table, two points ahead of the Blue Toon ahead of the festive period.

PETERHEAD: Graeme Smith, Graeme Sharp, Steven Noble, Reece Donaldson, Scott Ross, Dean Cowie, Andy Rodgers, Jamie Redman, Ryan McCann, Jordon Brown (Kevin Buchan, 81), Ryan Strachan. Subs not used: Conner McGlinchey, Jack Tait, Paul Jarvie (gk).

Booked: Brown.

ALBION ROVERS: Neil Parry, Alan Reid, Ross Dunlop, Barry Russell, Ciaran Donnelly, Mick Dunlop, Liam Cusack, Scott Chaplain, Mark McGuigan, Chris Dallas (Ryan Tiffney, 88), Gary Phillips. Subs not used:David Crawford, Josh Flood, Martin McGuire, Kevin Nicoll, Matt McGinley (gk).

Attendance: 423