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Blue Toon edged out in thriller

Sat 07 Jan 2017


Five goals, a penalty save, the woodwork rattled and one of the worst decisions you are ever likely to see.

Peterhead and League 1 pacesetters Livingston brought the best out of each other in an action-packed contest at Balmoor.

Shaun Byrne's clever backheel in the 78th minute eventually separated the sides after the Blue Toon had twice come from behind.

Livi had the ball in the net early on but Graeme Smith was adjudged to have been fouled by Danny Mullen when trying to deal with Sean Crighton's looping header.

Smith was certainly responsible for ensuring the scores were still level at the break after saving Liam Buchanan's 44th minute penalty.

Scott Rumsby hauled down Mullen on the left edge of the box but Buchanan's spot-kick was weak as Smith dived to his left to keep the ball out.

Now on to the madness of the second half..

Towering defender Declan Gallagher broke the deadlock in the 50th minute by powering home a backpost header from a corner.

Livi's lead lasted just two minutes as Jordon Brown dug out a cross from the right and Nicky Riley stooped to nod past Liam Kelly from close range.

The home fans were still smiling by the time David Hopkin's team immediately reclaimed their advantage, Buchanan going straight down the other end to tuck the ball beneath Smith.

Back came Peterhead again, this time Rory McAllister lashing in a six yard shot from substitute Leighton McIntosh's cutback, moments after Mullen had smashed the Peterhead post.

Could the hosts hold on this time or even nick a winner?

Well when Livi were ridiculously denied a 71st minute goal, it appeared as if Jim McInally's troops would get something.

Simon Ferry's short backpass was never reaching Smith and Buchanan nipped in to round the goalkeeper and slot into an empty net.

But bizarrely, the assistant referee claimed to have spotted a Livi player getting a touch on the ball so flagged for offside.

It was a poor call and the decision of referee David Lowe to back his colleague was even worse.

Feeling a sense of injustice, Livi upped the tempo in the closing stages, aided by their superior full-time fitness levels.

They got their rewards when Byrne flicked in Nicky Cadden's left wing cross from a few yards out.

This time there was no way back for Peterhead but they can definitely take encouragement from their contribution to this super spectacle.

By Glenn Moir