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Peterhead 3 Stirling Albion 1

Mon 23 Dec 2013

Peterhead moved back to the top of the table, albeit on goal-difference, after overcoming Stirling Albion at Balmoor thanks to Rory McAllister’s stunning hat-trick.

McAllister was back in the side after injury, and led his side to a 3-1 victory against a Binos side who lost on-loan Rangers man Luca Gasparotto to a red card with 19 minutes remaining.

McAllister’s return in place of Ryan McCann was the sole change from the side that had drawn with Albion Rovers a week previously, and the former Brechin City man wasted no time in making his mark.

After just four minutes Jamie Bishop, who had a brief loan spell at Peterhead two seasons ago, made a mess of dealing with Graeme Sharp’s long ball forward, and McAllister breezed in to take advantage. He clipped a glorious shot over goalkeeper David Crawford and into the far corner of the net from a tight angle.

McAllister opens the scoring

It was a fine start for the Blue Toon, and they should have been further ahead when Crawford could only parry a McAllister shot and Sharp reacted swiftly to send the ball back towards goal – only for the desperate challenge of Kieran McAnespie to deny the wing-back.

A minute later McAnespie took a free-kick in the midfield area, but spotting Graeme Smith slightly off his line, attempted to beat the goalkeeper from 45 yards. Smith, though, was equal to the effort and pushed it away for a corner.

McAnespie tried his luck again from more conventional range just before the half-hour. His 25-yard effort cleared the crossbar.

But Peterhead would be 2-0 up after 33 minutes. Andy Rodgers was the provider, his pass over the top allowing McAllister to get in behind the home defence. Crawford had to come off his line to narrow the angle, but the striker rolled the ball past him and into the far corner of the net.

Into the second half, and the gloves of Crawford were warmed by Reece Donaldson’s 20-yard striker after the Binos defence had only partially dealt with Ryan Strachan’s free kick.

The goalkeeper was in action again just a minute later, twice denying Rodgers after McAnespie had failed to cut out a Smith clearance.

But the Binos were back in it after 55 minutes. McAnespie, who was largely impressive in his left-back role, made good progress down the left and took advantage of a generous ricochet to send in a cross to the near post.

Scott Ross was well placed to head away, but his clearance fell kindly to Ross Forsyth on the edge of the area, and he drilled a low shot past a helpless Smith and into the far corner. Game on.

Jamie Redman was unlucky to head wide at the back post after McAllister had flicked on a Steven Noble corner while, at the other end, teenager Alex Cunningham was denied by smith following good hold-up play from Jordan White.

The visitors had a penalty claim turned down when David Weatherston skipped past the challenge of substitute McCann before being blocked off by Strachan just inside the area. Referee Bobby Madden saw Strachan’s challenge as fair.

Rodgers saw his header from McAllister’s cross come off the upright just moments later, and then there WAS a penalty awarded. There was no doubting this one. Smith’s log clearance brought down superbly by Rodgers, before he was brought down somewhat more clumsily by Gasparotto.

McAllister celebrates his hat-trick

Had it not been for the intervention of the on-loan Rangers man, Rodgers would have had only the goalkeeper to beat, so there could be no complaints when the red card was produced.

McAllister stepped up, and though Crawford came close after diving the correct way, the ball nestled in the back of the net to hand the striker the match-ball, and Peterhead another vital three points.

PETERHEAD: Graeme Smith, Graeme Sharp (Ryan McCann, 56), Steven Noble, Reece Donaldson, Scott Ross, Dean Cowie, Andy Rodgers (Fraser McLaren, 73), Jamie Redman, Rory McAllister, Jordon Brown (Bryan Gilfillan, 58), Ryan Strachan. Subs not used: Conner McGlinchey, Kevin Buchan, Paul Jarvie (gk).

Booked: None

STIRLING ALBION: David Crawford, David McClune, Kieran McAnespie, Ross Forsyth, Jamie Bishop, Luca Gasparotto, Phil Johnston, Dale Fulton (Mark Ferry, 45), Jordan White, Alex Cunningham (Stephen Day. 75), David Weatherson. Subs not used: Ross McGeachie, Blair Munn, Jamie Clark, Callum Reidford (gk).

Booked: None. Sent off: Gasparotto.

Attendance: 521