SEASON 2013/2014

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Peterhead     2

Ross County 0

Sat 12 Jul 2013

Peterhead captain Steven Noble recieves the Les Taylor Memorial Trophy

Peterhead kicked off their pre-season preparations with a fine win over an uncharacteristically below-par Ross County at Balmoor.

The match was played for the inaugural Les Taylor Memorial Trophy, on the day that the Balmoor sponsors’ lounges was dedicated in honour of the late former Vice-Chairman and sponsor.

Striker Andy Rodgers opened the scoring late in the first half, and substitute Bryan Gilfillan rattled home a penalty in the closing stages of the second to earn a morale-boosting victory for the Blue Toon.

Having retained much the same squad that narrowly missed out on promotion in last season’s playoffs, boss Jim McInally had almost a full complement available to him although striker Rory McAllister missed out due to a prior engagement.

Rodgers celebrates his fine chip over Mark Brown

There was a starting place for ex-Aberdeen midfielder Jordon Brown as both player and club take a look at each other. Three further trialists, Garry McStay, Dean Richardson and Ross Still were named on the bench.

The match was played very much at a pre-season pace and though County looked comfortable enough knocking the ball about, there was little in the way of incisive play from the SPL side.

Indeed, the first chance fell to Peterhead midfielder Dean Cowie after 20 minutes, his driven effort from 20 yards stinging the palms of County number one Mark Brown.

Just after the half-hour, a Mihael Kovacevic challenge brought an angry reaction from Peterhead winger David Cox, but a quiet word in the ear from referee Tom Shaw soon took the sting out of the situation.

Shortly afterwards, the deadlock was broken in some style. Veteran defender Grant Munro cut out Graeme Sharp’s pass on the right, but lost possession to Jamie Redman. He fed Rodgers, who lifted a delightful lob over Brown, and into the far corner of the net.

County came close to levelling three minutes from the break when Munro fed summer signing Darren Maatsen, only for goalkeeper Graeme Smith to block well.

The home side made a slew of changes at the interval and as the new-look side settled into the game, Richardson was caught on the ball by Alex Cooper – son of former Blue Toon gaffer Neale – after 52 minutes, the winger drawing a fine save from Smith.

Midway through the second half, Gilfillan came close for the home side as he followed his own clearance up the park, to meet a Cox cross and head narrowly over.

With ten minutes left, Kovacevic got forward from his right-back berth to send an angled shot narrowly over the crossbar.

And in the dying minutes, Peterhead were handed a penalty after Jake Fitzgerald was brought down in the area. Bryan Gilfillan stepped up to send Brown the wrong way from the spot.

Peterhead: Graeme Smith, Graeme Sharp, Steven Noble (Conner McGlinchey, 46), Ryan Strachan, Scott Ross, Dean Cowie (Trialist – Ryan McStay, 46), David Cox (Greg Alexander, 86), Redman (Trialist – Dean Richardson, 46), Rodgers (Callum Macdonald, 46), Trialist – Jordon Brown (Bryan Gilfillan, 46), Ryan McCann (Jake Fitzgerald, 86). Subs not used: Trialist – Ross Still, Ewan McDonald (gk).

Ross County: Mark Brown, Mihael Kovacevic, Ben Gordon, Stuart Kettlewell (Marc Klok, 68), Steven Saunders, Munro (Scott Boyd, 68), Darren Maatsen (Kevin Luckassen, 68), Richie Brittain, Steven Ross (Gary Glen, 68), Rocco Quinn, Alex Cooper (Ivan Sproule, 68). Sub not used: Michael Fraser (gk).

Attendance: 414

Peterhead 3

Aberdeen  2

Wed 24 Jul 2013

Peterhead’s pre-season preparations were wrapped up in style, as they saw off SPFL Premiership side Aberdeen to lift the Scottish Week Challenge Cup.

Rory McAllister and former Don Jordon Brown were on target for Jim McInally’s side, the latter netting a brace of headers against the side who released him at the start of the summer.

At 3-0 it seemed the Blue Toon were on easy street, but they had to weather a comeback; Barry Robson’s free-kick gave the visitors hope before half-time, and Niall McGinn’s penalty ensured a nervy ending.

With a Ramsden’s Cup clash against Brechin City kicking off the competitive action on Saturday, McInally was keen to avoid injuries, although he named a strong side. Andy Rodgers was unavailable, and Bryan Gilfillan offshore through his work.

Both sides cancelled each other out in the early stages, with the Blue Toon clearly out to impress against their neighbours.

It was after 24 minutes that they took the lead. McAllister was bundled over by Russell Anderson, and the ever-confident hitman stepped up to send former Man City goalkeeper Nicky Weaver the wrong way from 12 yards.

Aberdeen had shown little threat despite naming what was a credible starting lineup, though Josh Magennis flashed a header wide from a Robson free kick moments after the goal.

But if the Dons had designs on levelling quickly, they were in for a quite a surprise.

McAllister could have doubled the advantage when he beat the offside trap to advance on Weaver, but frustratingly tried to chip the goalkeeper and made it easy for the veteran to save.

The Blue Toon would not be denied for long, though, and when David Cox clipped a cross into the middle of the penalty area after 33 minutes, Brown got in front of the defence to head home a goal he is likely to remember.

And Aberdeen simply refused to learn their lesson. Three minutes later Cox was again the supplier, this time from a corner. He found Brown at the back post, and the midfielder nodded his second of the evening.

The visitors would pull a goal back before the break, though. Jonny Hayes drove at the home defence and was taken out by a strong Scott Ross challenge. Robson, so dangerous from set pieces, stepped up and sent a deflected effort past Graeme Smith to hand his side a lifeline.

Magennis and Anderson were withdrawn at the interval, and with McGinn now in attack, they looked to pose a different threat in the second half.

They began to come more and more into the game, and with Craig Murray pushing forward from right-back, seemed to have more width than in the first half. That said, creating clear chances was proving to be tricky and it took until Murray set up Pawlett after 72 minutes. The winger, though, sent his effort over the bar.

When McInnes’ men did haul themselves right back into the match, it came from the spot. Hayes was again the dangerman, and when he was tugged back by Graeme Sharp, there was no doubt that referee Stephen Finnie would point to the spot.

He did, and McGinn coolly produced a carbon-copy of McAllister’s earlier spot kick at the same end, to bring the score back to 3-2.

Try as they might, Aberdeen simply couldn’t find the cutting edge to level the scores in the remaining 16 minutes of the game, though Hayes struck the inside of the post with a low shot that had Smith scrambling across his goal.

PETERHEAD: Smith, Sharp, Noble, Strachan, Ross, Cowie, Cox, Redman, McAllister, Brown, McCann. Subs: McGlinchey, Trialist (Dean Richardson), Trialist (Ryan McStay), Alexander, Fitzgerald, Jarvie (gk)

ABERDEEN: Weaver, Shaughnessy, Anderson, Reynolds, Robertson, Pawlett, Jack, Robson, Hayes, Magennis, Vernon. Subs: Murray, McKenna, Storie, Masson, Low, McGinn, Shankland, Langfield (gk)

Attendance: 1901

Peterhead    2

Brechin City 1

Sun 28 Jul 2013

Jordon Brown celebrates his goal

Summer signing Jordon Brown made it three goals in two games as he helped Peterhead get the new season off to a fine start, netting the winner as the Blue Toon saw off SPFL League One side Brechin City in the first round of the Ramsdens Cup.

David Cox had put Jim McInally’s men ahead early on, but Ryan Strachan’s own goal just before the interval levelled the scores. Both sides had chances but it was Brown who had the final say.

In a match unusual for both goalkeepers sharing the same name, the Blue Toon were unchanged following the midweek friendly win over Aberdeen, with Brown pushing from midfield to support Rory McAllister, and David Cox and Ryan McCann doing likewise from the flanks.

Within just two minutes, both sides had shown they were keen to impress upon the game in the opening stages.

Ryan McCann chases the ball

Ryan Strachan’s clipped free-kick found McAllister in the area, and the striker saw Brechin’s Graeme Smith save his shot at the near post.

The visitors broke quickly, Alan Trouten spreading play wide to Bobby Barr. His cross was met by the onrushing Trouten, but Peterhead’s own Graeme Smith reacted quickly to turn the effort over the bar.

The Blue Toon took an early lead. McAllister, facing his former club, crossed from the right and when Smith inexplicably fumbled, Cox reacted first to turn the ball into the net.

The sides were fairly evenly matched, and Brechin came close to levelling when Allan Walker opted to strike from 25 yards after Jamie Redman had lost the ball in midfield, but the former Livingston midfielder sent his effort wide of the upright.

Shortly before the interval, Peterhead’s Smith was forced to react quickly to smother the ball after he spilled a Steven Jackson free-kick, but was able to avert the danger.

Smith was, though, beaten in injury time, from an unexpected source. Trouten and Barr again combined, the latter crossing from Andy Jackson at the near post. Jackson found himself under the cross, but Strachan unfortunately sent the cross beyond his own goalkeeper.

Peterhead attempted to hit back moments after the break. Steven Noble embarked on a run down the left, and slipped a pass inside to McAllister who was unlucky to curl his shot narrowly wide.

The home side were dealt a blow when Scott Ross was forced off through injury just a couple of minutes later, with Steven Noble moving into the heart of defence and Conner McGlinchey taking over at left-back.

It didn’t deter Peterhead though, and after 53 minutes, Jamie Redman was unfortunate to see his flick hit the post after Cox had sent a free-kick in from the left.

Brechin are among the favourites to secure a playoff spot behind Rangers in League One, and they continued to show their potency.

Just after the hour, Derek Carcary found the side-netting after being played in by Trouten, and seconds later a quick break saw Carcary cross for Andy Jackson, only for the former St Johnstone man to fail to make contact with the cross.

But it was Peterhead who went back in front after 73 minutes. Graeme Sharp and Dean Cowie combined to slide in Brown. The midfielder looked offside, but side-footed the ball beyond Smith to put his side 2-1 up.

City had one more chance to level as Steven Jackson’s free-kick brought about a save from Smith, but it was the home side who held on to book their place in Wednesday’s draw.

PETERHEAD: Graeme Smith, Graeme Sharp, Steven Noble, Ryan Strachan, Scott Ross (Conner McGlinchey, 49), Dean Cowie, David Cox (Trialist – Kevin Buchan, 81), Jamie Redman, Rory McAllister, Jordon Brown, Ryan McCann (Andy Rodgers, 60). Subs not used: Trialist (Dean Richardson), Paul Jarvie (gk).

Booked: Cowie, Rodgers.

BRECHIN CITY: Graeme Smith, Steven Jackson, Paul Maclean, Graham Hay (jonny Brown, 86), Gerry McLauchlan, Allan Walker, Alan Trouten, Stuart Anderson, Andy Jackson, Bobby Barr, Derek Carcary. Subs not used: Ewan Moyes, Greg Cameron, Craig Molloy, Craig Nelson (gk).

Booked: McLean, Hay, McLauchlan.

Referee: Des Roache

Attendance: 546

Peterhead      0

Alloa Athletic 2

Sat 03 Aug 2013

Andy Rodgers tries to avoid a tackle

Alloa midfielder Ryan McCord played a key role as his Scottish Championship side eventually overcame Peterhead in a match that was far closer than the two-division gap between the sides would have suggested.

McCord opened the scoring early in the second half from the penalty spot, and it was from his free-kick that former Hearts striker Andy Kirk headed home the killer second in the dying stages.

With Scott Ross missing through injury, it was a makeshift Peterhead defence that took to the field. Captain Steven Noble moved to centre-back and Conner McGlinchey stepped in to fill his more familiar left-back role.

The Blue Toon were otherwise unchanged from the side that had overcome Brechin City on Ramsdens Cup duty last week. With the sides having met in pre-season, Jim McInally’s men had an inkling of what to expect from a side Paul Hartley has developed well over the past couple of seasons.

Conner McGlinchey in possession

They immediately set out to stop the visitors stroking the ball around the park, and were aided by a strong wind blowing over Balmoor.

With that wind behind them, Peterhead were first to threaten. Jamie Redman headed a high ball into the path of Jordon Brown, and the former Aberdeen youngster flashed a snap-shot narrowly wide of the goal.

Brown was involved again after 20 minutes. McGlinchey combined with Rory McAllister before Graeme Holmes’ tackle sent the ball looping towards the back post. Brown was on hand to win the header, but sent his effort over the bar.

It had been a first half of few chances but the Wasps were claiming for a penalty ten minutes before the interval.

On-loan Aberdeen striker Declan McManus volleyed acrobatically after Stephen Simmons had knocked down McCord’s free-kick, and the ball seemed to come off the arm of Ryan Strachan. McManus had been so close to the former Celtic man, though, that any penalty given would have been incredibly harsh.

The claim perhaps stuck in the mind of referee David Somers, though, as the Wasps were awarded a penalty shortly after half-time.

Graeme Sharp’s attempted clearance was charged down by Kevin Cawley, and he slipped the ball into the path of McCord. Jamie Redman tracked the run and got close to the former Dundee United man, but there appeared to be little contact as McCord fell to the ground.

Somers felt there was enough, though, and pointed to the spot. McCord himself stepped up to the mark, and rolled the ball low into the net as Smith guessed the opposite way.

And the referee caused further misery for the home support when he decided that a push by Alloa goalkeeper Scott Bain on Andy Rodgers merited only a yellow card.

Rodgers had chased a loose ball into the area, but although he was perfectly entitled to challenge for the ball, Bain reacted angrily. The pair came together and the goalkeeper clearly sent the striker tumbling. The outcome was that both were booked, along with Simmons, who had made his feelings clear.

Four minutes later, Rodgers turned a fine pass into the path of McAllister, who saw his effort deflected away for a corner. David Cox swung the set piece in, and McAllister got his head to the cross, but sent his effort over the bar.

But the Championship side would extend their lead with seven minutes of the match remaining.

McCord sent a left-wing free-kick towards the back post, where Kirk got a run on Blue Toon substitute Bryan Gilfillan, and sent a header squirming beyond the unfortunate Smith.

PETERHEAD: Graeme Smith, Graeme Sharp, Conner McGlinchey, Ryan Strachan, Steven Noble, Dean Cowie (Bryan Gilfillan, 63), David Cox (Kevin Buchan, 79), Jamie Redman, Rory McAllister, Jordon Brown, Ryan McCann (Andy Rodgers, 63). Subs not used: Richardson, Jarvie (gk).

Booked: Cowie, McCann, Redman, McAllister, Rodgers.

ALLOA ATHLETIC: Scott Bain, Michael Doyle, James Creaney, Ben Gordon, Daryll Meggatt, Stephen Simmons, Kevin Cawley, Ryan McCord, Andy Kirk, Graeme Holmes (Jonathan Tiffoney, 65), Declan McManus. Subs not used: Eddie Ferns, Michael Hardie, Nathan Moore, Craig McDowall (gk).

Booked: McManus, Bain, Simmons.

Attendance: 429

Peterhead          2

Annan Athletic 2

Sat 10 Aug 2013

Gilfillan heads home

Peterhead twice had to come from behind to kick off their league campaign with a draw at home to Annan Athletic – but in the end could have won the game against Jim Chapman’s side.

David Hopkirk twice put the visitors ahead but former Annan pair Bryan Gilfillan and David Cox each found the net against their former club to secure the points.

Missing Ryan Strachan through suspension, Scott Ross was called back into action in the centre of defence, while Bryan Gilfillan started in place of the injured Ryan McCann.

The first real effort in anger came from the boot of McAllister. He brought down Jamie Redman’s flick on his knee and struck a left-footed volley on the spin, the shot spinning up and over the bar.

Annan looked a threat, and after Peter Weatherson had seen a shot turned away for a corner. From the set piece, the ball was cleared as far as Matty Flynn, and his driven effort from 20-yards was blocked by Graeme Sharp.

Flynn was involved again as the visitors took the lead after 24 minutes. He sent a great ball over the top, and Hopkirk got in front of Scott Ross to take the ball round Graeme Smith and slide into the net.

Cox celebrates his goal

Brown missed a gilt-edged change to level the scores when McAllister burst clear on the left, and outbattled Annan full-back Steven Black, before squaring for the former Dons youngster, who somehow hit wide from eight yards.

Within sixty seconds, Ross was left to breathe a sigh of relief. He and Hopkirk collided just outside the area as they chased another long ball out of defence, but referee Kevin Graham deemed that it had been an accidental collision rather than a foul.

After the restart, Peterhead looked a different team, and they came mighty close to levelling when Gilfillan knocked down a McAllister pass for Brown on the edge of the area, the young midfielder unleashing a superb volleyed strike that fizzed narrowly wide.

It was the home side who were making all the running at this point, and they managed to get themselves level a minute later.

Cox hung a corner up to the back post, and utility man Gilfillan climbed up and over McAllister at the back post to squeeze a header past Alex Mitchell in the visitors’ goal.

With the flow of play, it seemed the goal would provide a platform from which the Blue Toon could build, but their good work was undone within a minute, and again it was a soft goal to lose.

From the kick-off, Annan worked the ball back to the experienced Weatherson. He lifted the ball over the top, and Hopkirk beat the onrushing Smith to the ball before lofting delightfully over the stricken goalkeeper and into the net.

Peterhead could have been back on level terms when Weatherson sliced a clearance up in the air, just after the hour mark. Mitchell would have been within his rights to catch the ball as there was certainly no intent to play a pass-back, but the goalkeeper opted to deal with the situation with his feet.

He, too, sliced the ball under pressure from McAllister, and was delighted to grasp the ball as it came back at him off the inside of his own upright. Blushes spared all round.

Peterhead brought on former Gretna and Berwick winger Fraser McLaren as a trialist with 25 minutes left, as they threw men forward in a bid to rescue the game. That meant Gilfillan dropped into the back four, with Steven Noble returning to his more familiar left-back slot.

However, the visitors should have tied the match up after 73 minutes, and it would have been a self-inflicted wound. Weatherson’s long ball should have been dealt with by Graeme Sharp, but he was caught in possession by Hopkirk. The striker homed in on goal but unselfishly opted to play in Kenny Mackay, who saw his shot saved by Smith in the Peterhead goal.

The Blue Toon were running short of defenders though; Scott Ross suffered cramp and had to be replaced by Andy Rodgers, with Jamie Redman dropping to the heart of defence alongside Gilfillan. Then Noble went off with an ankle knock, to be replaced by Dean Richardson.

And Richardson was involved in the equaliser with five minutes remaining. He slid a ball up the channel to McAllister, who laid the ball into the path of Cox.

The former Annan striker cut inside, and from the edge of the area he drilled a low shot beyond Mitchell, finding the bottom-left corner of the net.

They had chances to win it. McLaren raced in from the right to meet Richardson’s deep cross with a first-time strike, but taking the ball awkwardly with his left-foot, the winger turned over the bar.

With almost the last kick of the ball, McAllister should have found the net. Rodgers flicked on a Sharp cross, and the former Brechin man set himself, only to scuff his shot wide of the far post.

PETERHEAD: Graeme Smith, Graeme Sharp, Conner McGlinchey (Trialist, 66), Scott Ross (Andy Rodgers, 74), Steven Noble (Dean Richardson, 80), Dean Cowie, David Cox, Jamie Redman, Rory McAllister, Jordon Brown, Bryan Gilfillan. Subs not used: Kevin Buchan, Jake Fitzgerald, Paul Jarvie (gk).

ANNAN ATHLETIC: Alex Mitchell, Iain Chisholm, Peter Bradley, Steven Black, Peter Watson, Steven Sloan, Kenny Mackay (Chris Jardine, 79), Matty Flynn, Peter Weatherson, David Hopkirk, Ally Love. Subs not used: Kieran Brannan, Scott Davidson, Jordan Moffat, Danny Graham, Kieran McCrudden, Kenny Arthur (gk).

Booked: Steven Black.

Attendance: 504

Stirling Albion 2

Peterhead        0

Sat 17 Aug 2013

David Cox

A blunted attack and individual mistakes at the back cost Peterhead dear, as the Blue Toon succumbed to Stirling Albion in a match both sides finished with ten men.

Dale Fulton seized upon Bryan Gilfillan’s mistake to put the home side ahead, and although the Blue Toon had plenty of possession, they eventually conceded a second as Phil Johnston fired home from 20 yards.

In a game which was at times more than a little tetchy, both sides were reduced to ten men when Peterhead sub Andy Rodgers and Binos captain Jamie Bishop clashed off the ball, Rodgers shown a straight red card and ex-Blue Toon loanee Bishop handed a second yellow.

Peterhead had lined up in an unfamiliar 5-3-2 formation, with Ryan Strachan stepping into the team in place of Conner McGlinchey following suspension. Ryan McCann, fit again after an ankle knock played just off David Cox in attack.

The big miss, though, was Rory McAllister who, it was later revealed, has been suspended following a breach of club discipline.

It didn’t take long for the match to heat up, as Cox and Bishop became engaged in an off-the-ball incident after just ten minutes. It seemed to go completely unseen by the officials, and the duo shook hands and got on with it.

Much of the play was in the midfield area in the opening stages, and it took another ten minutes for the first real chance of the game. A slack pass out of the Binos defence fell to Jordon Brown and he flashed a 20-yard strike narrowly beyond the left-hand upright.

The opening goal came after 27 minutes, and it was borne out of mistakes.  Jamie Redman played a ball backwards to Gilfillan in the centre of defence. Gilfillan was somewhat casual in moving the ball on, and Fulton was alert enough to cut out his pass and advance on Graeme Smith before sliding the ball home off the inside of the  post.

Johnston had been booked a couple of minutes earlier for a bodycheck on Cox, and the former Annan man also went into the book when the roles were reversed soon after.

Graeme Smith

Peterhead were missing a focal point up front with McAllister missing and Rodgers still not felt to be fit enough to start the match, and that meant the pressure was on the midfield to come up with the goals.

Dean Cowie tried to oblige with a 20-yard drive which was narrowly off target, but the Blue Toon should have been level three minutes from the break.

McCann beat goalkeeper David Crawford to a short passback, but was forced away from goal. He set himself to shoot but allowed the keeper to recover to save, when perhaps a pass back to Cox would have given a better angle from which to score.

The home side’s Chris Smith had headed a Kieran McAnespie corner over the bar and another McAnespie set piece saw Mark Ferry force a low save from Peterhead’s Smith.

The last action of the first half saw Strachan hit wide after the home side could only half-clear a deep free-kick from Gilfillan.

The tetchy nature of the game continued into the second half. Sharp had been booked shortly before the break for kicking  ball away, and five minutes after the restart he was tugged back by Graham Weir, the Stirling man also going into the book.

The home side had their goalkeeper to thank for keeping them ahead when he got down low to his right to block Gilfillan’s diving header from a right-wing free-kick. Brown kept the ball alive but Crawford again blocked as he shot from a tight angle.

Bishop picked up his first booking for a cynical swipe at Brown just before the hour, and from the resultant free-kick, Strachan’s powerful drive forced a save from Crawford.

Peterhead had enjoyed the bulk of the play so far in the second half, but had Smith to thank for keeping them in the game, as the former Rangers goalkeeper made a fine double-save to deny Jordan White and Fulton.

Cox and McCann were soon replaced with Rodgers and Fraser McLaren, and that seemed to interrupt the flow of the Peterhead attack, although Rodgers did force a fine save from Crawford as he sent a fine volley across the goalkeeper.

The home side soon doubled their lead, against the run of play. Scott Ross brought down White, but referee Euan Anderson correctly allowed an advantage as the ball broke to Johnston, and the midfielder sent a low shot swerving past Smith and into the bottom-right corner of the net.

Rodgers and Bishop saw red in the 82nd minute after they clashed while Peterhead prepared to take a corner, and the frustration of Peterhead was evident as Ross was booked in injury time for kicking the ball away.

STIRLING ALBION: David Crawford, Ross McGeachie, Ross Forsyth, Kieran McAnespie, Jamie Bishop, Chris Smith, Phil Johnston, Mark Ferry (David McClune, 76), Jordan White, Graham Weir (Jamie McCunnie, 85), Dale Fulton (David Weatherston, 66). Subs not used: Bradley Coyne, Stephen Day, Jamie Clark, Sean Robertson (gk).

Booked: Johnston, Weir, Bishop.

Sent off: Bishop.

PETERHEAD: Graeme Smith, Graeme Sharp, Steven Noble, Ryan Strachan, Scott Ross, Dean Cowie (Conner McGlinchey, 76), David Cox (Andy Rodgers, 66), Jamie Redman, Ryan McCann (Fraser McLaren, 66), Jordon Brown, Bryan Gilfillan. Subs not used: Kevin Buchan, Dean Richardson, Jake Fitzgerald, Paul Jarvie (gk).

Booked: Cox, Sharp, Ross.

Sent off: Rodgers.

Attendance: 573

Peterhead           1

Stenhousemuir 3 (AET)

Wed 21 Aug 2013

Peterhead 1 Stenhousemuir 3 (AET)

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.

2013-mclaren-stenny

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

Peterhead 2

Elgin City   2

Sat 24 Aug 2013

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

East Stirling 1

Peterhead   4

Tue 10 Sep 2013

The Blue Toon finally came good on league duty after coming from behind to defeat previously unbeaten leaders East Stirlingshire at Ochilview.

But it wasn’t plain sailing, as Shire took an early lead thanks to Paul Quinn’s penalty. It was into the second half before the Blue Toon hit back through Jordon Brown, but further goals from Jamie Redman and on loan duo Stephen O’Neill and Ryan McGeever sealed the win.

With Graeme Sharp and Bryan Gilfillan otherwise engaged, O’Neill and Conner McGlinchey came into the Blue Toon side, the only changes from the draw against Elgin City a week earlier.

But they couldn’t have had a worse start, falling behind after just 6 minutes. McGeever clumsily challenged Kevin Turner from Chris Townsley’s long ball, and though it was perhaps on the soft side, referee David Somers saw enough to point to the spot.

Quinn sent Graeme Smith the wrong way from 12 yards, and John Coughlin’s side were in front. Peterhead were determined to make amends for their slow start to the season, however, and quickly went in search of an equaliser.

McGlinchey’s long ball out of defence found the ever-dangerous Rory McAllister on the edge of the Shire box, but the striker saw his shot on the turn fly narrowly wide.

A Smith free-kick flicked on by Redman almost allowed David Cox in on goal, but goalkeeper Grant Hay was quickly off his line to smother the danger.

The Blue Toon had something of a claim for a penalty of their own when McAllister seemed to be hauled down by an off-balance Townsley as they jostled for O’Neill’s ball over the top. This time the referee was not moved by the claim, and play continued.

Shire immediately broke and Quinn took on a left-foot half-volley, but Smith was comfortable in collecting the effort. It was into the second half before Peterhead finally got the leveller their play had merited.

Redman’s cross from the right found Fraser McLaren, who teed up substitute Andy Rodgers. The ex-Shire man saw his shot blocked, but Brown was well-placed to step onto the ball and fire low past Hay.

And from there, the floodgates opened. Captain Steven Noble saw a shot blocked after a half-cleared O’Neill corner. Peterhead were forced to start again, and Noble’s deep cross was bundled over the line by Redman at the back post.

Massive holes were becoming apparent in the home rearguard, and the third goal was a simple as can be. Graeme MacGregor beat McLaren to Smith’s ball out of defence, but his clearance fell to O’Neill on the half-way line.

He picked out McAllister, and with the striker occupying Townsley and MacGregor slow to tuck in, the on-loan Aberdeen midfielder was sent clean through on goal by the return pass, and calmly beat Hay at his near post.

The fourth goal came after 81 minutes, and it was McGeever who made up for his first-half indiscretion in netting his second goal in as many games for the Blue Toon.

Scott Ross saw his header from O’Neill’s corner hacked off the line. Redman put the ball back into the danger zone, and a poked clearance fell neatly to McGeever who struck low and left-footed into the bottom corner of the net.

The win is a welcome boost to a side who have been architects of their own problems so far this term, with individual errors helping the goals against column in two league draws and a defeat in the three games prior to this.

Manager Jim McInally will be looking for the confidence this win provides to help his side move in the right direction.

EAST STIRLINGSHIRE: Grant Hay, Graeme MacGregor, Michael McGowan, Chris Townsley, Michael Bolochoweckyj, Iain Thomson, Jordan McKechnie (Scott Maxwell, 73), David Greenhill (Ross O’Donoghue, 73), Kevin Turner, Paul Quinn, Max Wright (Jamie Glasgow, 73). Subs not used: Ricky Miller, Conor Kelly, David McCaughie, Craig Gordon (gk).

Booked: MacGregor, McKechnie.

PETERHEAD: Graeme Smith, Conner McGlinchey, Steven Noble, Ryan McGeever, Scott Ross, Stephen O’Neill, David Cox (Andy Rodgers, 57), Jamie Redman, Rory McAllister (Kevin Buchan, 82), Jordon Brown, Fraser McLaren (Dean Richardson, 87). Subs not used: Jake Fitzgerald, Paul Jarvie (gk).

Booked: Cox, Brown, McAllister.

Attendance: 286

Peterhead      2

Queen’s Park 1

Sat 14 Sep 2013

Peterhead 2 Queen's Park 1

The Blue Toon picked up their first home league win of the season, but had to come from behind once more to do so.

Rory McAllister and Fraser McLaren did the damage for Jim McInally’s men, but their goals came after Tony Quinn had given the pointless visitors the lead.

McInally stuck with the side that had beaten East Stirlingshire a fortnight ago, meaning Dean Cowie had to be content with a place on the bench, having missed out at Ochilview due to work commitments.

Peterhead started the better of the two sides, but only Graeme Sharp’s ninth minute strike from distance tested visiting goalkeeper Blair Lochhead, the youngster pushing the ball over the crossbar.

The Spiders began to find their feet, and were presented with a chance when Ryan McGeever, on-loan from Falkirk, saw his short passback intercepted. Sean Burns took the opportunity to shoot, but saw his effort blocked by Graeme Smith.

And Gardner Speirs’ side did go in front through some clever play after 24 minutes. Blair Spittal’s cross was aimed at Quinn, who cleverly allowed the ball to run through to Michael Keenan. He played the ball back into the path of the Spiders skipper, who fired into the net from eight yards.

Parity was restored two minutes before the interval. The hard-working David Cox sent a free kick into the area, and McAllister headed past Lochhead to level the scores.

The goal scorer turned goal maker five minutes after the break. He took advantage of Ricki Lamie’s hesitation in the Spiders defence, and squared for McLaren to net his first Blue Toon goal.

The Spiders had a chance to level the scores from a 65th minute corner, but it’s fair to say that they would have hoped a striker, rather than central defender James Brough, would be presented with the opportunity. As it was, Brough’s effort was well off target, and Peterhead sighed with relief.

That chance, though, was a rare glimpse for the visitors, as the home team controlling the play.

A third goal would have sealed the points, and McAllister passed up a gilt-edged change when he blazed over the crossbar when through on goal with just five minutes remaining.

It could have proved costly as the amateurs worked a final chance from a corner at the death, but Queens’ substitute trialist headed over the crossbar.

PETERHEAD: Graeme Smith, Graeme Sharp, Steven Noble, Ryan McGeever, Scott Ross, Stephen O’Neill, David Cox (Dean Cowie, 66), Jamie Redman, Rory McAllister, Jordon Brown (Conner McGlinchey, 83), Fraser McLaren (Andy Rodgers, 70). Subs not used: Ryan McCan, Dean Richardson, Kevin Buchan, Paul Jarvie (gk).

Booked: Cox.

QUEEN’S PARK: Blair Lochhead, Gavin Mitchell, Martin McComish, David Gold, James Brough, Ricki Lamie, Blair Spittal, Conor McVey, Michael Keenan (James Baty, 79), Tony Quinn, Sean Burns (Trialist, 65). Subs not used: Scott Gibson, Joao Vitoria, Michael Brown (gk)

Booked: Brough, Keenan.

Attendance: 491

Albion Rovers 1

Peterhead       2

Sat 28 Sep 2013

Peterhead secured an away win on their first visit to Cliftonhill since 2005, but had to rely on a controversial penalty to seal the points against Albion Rovers.

The Blue Toon deservedly led at the break thanks to a Scott Ross header, but were pegged back shortly after the interval when Darren Miller found the bottom corner with a 20-yard free-kick.

However Rory McAllister won, and then converted a penalty which had the home fans raging, to ensure it would be the Blue Toon heading up the road with all three points.

There were two changes to the side beaten by Montrose, Stephen O’Neill and Jordon Brown replaced by Dean Cowie and Bryan Gilfillan, and the Blue Toon quickly imposed themselves on the game.

Gilfillan was the provider for the first real chance, slipping a clever free-kick up the inside-right channel for Fraser McLaren, but his low shot was turned away by the legs of Neil Parry.

Jim McInally’s men were dominating the early play without really troubling their hosts, but had earned the opening goal when it came after 18 minutes.

McLaren was full of running, and earned his side another corner on the right hand side. David Cox hung the set-piece into the near post area, where it was met by Ross who turned home for his first goal of the season.

Seven minutes later, McLaren passed up a golden opportunity to double his side’s advantage after a neat move. Cowie flicked a ball to McAllister inside the area, and his back-heel left McLaren with just ex-Queen’s Park man Parry to beat.

McLaren did so in going for the top corner, but was unable to keep his effort down and it fizzed over the bar.

The former Berwick forward was heavily involved, and set up Cox on the edge of the area but Parry was equal to his effort.

Graeme Smith in the Peterhead goal had been largely untroubled during the first half, save a few crosses which were comfortably dealt with. However, the ex-Rangers man was beaten just four minutes into the second half.

Rovers midfielder Miller threatened to burst into the area only to be brought down inside the ‘D’ by Ryan McGeever. Miller lined up the set-piece himself, and curled a delightful strike round the wall and into the bottom-right corner.

Almost instantly, McGeever came within inches of restoring the Blue Toon’s lead. He was well placed to head towards goal after Jamie Redman had turned another Cox corner back across goal, but his effort cannoned back off the crossbar.

The Blue Toon were back in front, though, after an hour. McAllister latched onto a long ball out of defence and seemed to have passed up the opportunity when he tried to take the ball around goalkeeper Parry and centre-half Ross Dunlop.

He went down, though, as the Rovers pair tried to clear the danger, and after a pregnant pause, referee David Somers pointed to the spot. Parry was adjudged to be the guilty party, and went into the book before being sent the wrong way from the spot by the reliable McAllister.

The home side tried to bounce back again, with another Miller free-kick this time saved by Smith, and a penalty claim of their own when Graeme Sharp appeared to handle an awkwardly bouncing ball, however there was enough about Peterhead to see the game out and move back to within striking distance of a playoff spot.

ALBION ROVERS: Neil Parry, Alan Reid, Ross Dunlop, Darren Miller, Ciaran Donnelly, Scott Chaplain, Josh Flood (Pat Walker, 73), Liam Cusack, Mark McGuigan (Ryan Tiffney, 80), Chris Dallas (Martin Maguire, 84), Gary Phillips. Subs not used: David Crawford, Mick Dunlop, Scott Sally, Matthew McGinley (gk).

Booked: Reid, Parry.

PETERHEAD: Smith, Sharp, Noble, McGeever, Ross, Cowie, Cox (McGlinchey, 86), Redman, McAllister (McCann, 84), Gilfillan, McLaren (Rodgers, 66). Subs not used: Brown, Richardson, Buchan, Jarvie (gk).

Booked: McGeever, Noble, Rodgers.

Attendance: 394

Berwick Rangers 2

Peterhead              1

Sat 05 Oct 2013

Rory McAllister

Peterhead’s involvement in this year’s William Hill Scottish Cup ended at the first hurdle after Berwick Rangers hit back from behind to seal a 2-1 win over the ten-man Blue Toon.

Rory McAllister had opened the scoring after 32 minutes, but Darren Lavery restored parity shoertly after the interval. The hosts then took full advantage of David Cox’s red card when Kenny O’Brien struck five minutes from the end of the game to seal their place in Round Three.

The Blue Toon made three changes from the side that had beaten Albion Rovers at Cliftonhill seven days previously, with Graeme Sharp, Bryan Gilfillan and Dean Cowie dropping out, the latter to the bench.

In came Conner McGlinchey, Jordon Brown and Andy Rodgers, giving a distinct attacking feel to the Blue Toon lineup.

Without on-loan Hibs goalkeeper Paul Grant, the home side handed Billy Bald a debut and he was called into early action to claim Rodgers’ long distance strike.

It was the home side who would create the better chances in the early stages, with man of many clubs Scott Dalziel sending a header wide of the target.

Cox picked up his first booking for a foul on Steven Notman, before  the Berwick midfielder came close with an effort wide of the upright.

Just before the half-hour, Lavery crashed a 25-yard effort off the bar after a clever combination with Dalziel, but the deadlock would soon be broken by the Blue Toon.

Rodgers flicked a neat pass into the feet of McAllister, and the striker sent a stunning, curling strike from the edge of the box beyond the flailing Bald and into the net.

The goal stunned the visitors who didn’t look like finding a way back level before the interval, but they came out for the second half with all guns blazing.

Their reward came after 53 minutes. Lavery picked the ball up on the right and worked his way into the penalty area before angling a drive across Smith and into the net.

Jamie Redman forced Bald into another good save with a header as Peterhead sought to regain the initiative, but their task was made all the harder when Cox was sent packing for a second booking, after bringing down substitute O’Brien.

And the Berwick winger would have a further say in the outcome of the match, as he ended a swift counter attack, squaring for Lavery.

Lavery saw his shot blocked by Smith but O’Brien was alert and drove home to seal Berwick’s place in the draw which will be made on Monday.

BERWICK RANGERS: Billy Bald, Devon Jacobs, Dean Hoskins, Mick Dunlop, Stephen Tulloch, Damien Gielty, Neil Janczyk, Steven Notman, Scott Dalziel, Darren Lavery (Josh Morris, 88), Ross Gray (Kenny O’Brien, 72). Subs not used:Dean Carse, Ben Miller, Gary O’Connor (gk).

Booked: Tulloch, Hoskins, Janczyk.

PETERHEAD: Graeme Smith, Conner McGlinchey, Steven Noble, Ryan McGeever, Scott Ross (Dean Richardson, 79), Jordon Brown (Dean Cowie, 62), David Cox, Jamie Redman, Rory McAllister, Andy Rodgers (Ryan McCann, 73), Fraser McLaren. Subs not used: Kevin Buchan, Ewen Macdonald (gk).

Booked: Cox, Redman, Richardson.

Sent off: Cox.

Attendance: 356

Elgin City   2

Peterhead 4

Sat 09 Nov 2013

Rodgers nets the opener

The Blue Toon finally ended a run of four games without a win to take full points from the Highland Derby, and they did so in some style.

Andy Rodgers got the ball rolling, and Rory McAllister hit a sixty-second double before Dean Cowie struck from 40-yards. The win was all but sealed, but Elgin notched a brace of late goals toput through Craig Gunn and Sam Urquhart to add an air of respectability to the scoreline.

Gunn was one of three one-time Balmoor men in the Elgin lineup, along with keeper Ray Jellema and fellow striker Dennis Wyness.

It was a much changed Peterhead side that lined up. Coach Craig Tully came into a defence that has not kept a clean sheet this term, and Jamie Redman was used as an auxiliary centre-back in a 3-5-2 formation.

McAllister (obscured) watches his first goalbeat Ray Jellema

Dean Richardson continued on the left after making his first Blue Toon start against Annan in midweek, while Rodgers was paired with McAllister in attack after serving a suspension for his bizarre red card against Clyde.

The first chance fell to McAllister, the striker lining up an effort after Rodgers had knocked down a Sharp cross, but blazing over the crossbar.

The pair reversed roles for the opening goal midway through the first half.

Redman’s header out of defence found Cowie on the halfway line, and his lofted pass released McAllister on the left. The Blue Toon’s top scorer unselfishly squared, and Rodgers gleefully turned home from eight yards.

Elgin’s attempts to draw level saw David Niven hold off the attentions of Jordon Brown before sliding a neat ball into the path of Wyness, only for Peterhead captain Steven Noble to block for a corner.

Paul Harkins’ delivery was met by Jamie Duff, but the central defender’s effort was well over the crossbar.

The Blue Toon remained 1-0 up at the interval, but doubled their lead after 47 minutes, and how simple it was.

It started with a chance for Harkins, whose low shot was mopped up easily by Graeme Smith in the Peterhead goal. The goalkeeper’s long clearance bounced and allowed McAllister to race inside Mark Nicolson and lob Jellema from an awkward angle.

A minute later, it was 3-0 and McAllister had claimed his double. From the restart, the ball was played back to Nicolson, who made a real hash of his touch, and with three touches, the ball was in the net.

Rodgers stroked into the path of McAllister, who took a touch before drilling a low 20-yard shot beyond his former team-mate Jellema, and to surely end the game as a contest.

If the third goal had seen Elgin cause their own problems, the fourth was nothing but suicide. Richardson’s cross from the left was beyond the reach of McAllister, and seemed to pose no great danger to the home defence.

Jellema had other ideas though, racing out of his area to fly headlong into a clearing header. All well and good, but the ball fell perfectly for Cowie, 40 yards from goal, who sent a first-time volley into the net.

It was a beautifully-struck effort, and with just 52 minutes on the clock there was every chance Peterhead could run riot.

Indeed, McAllister was denied his hat-trick by the crossbar. After racing onto Cowie’s pass down the right channel, he cut inside but saw his clipped effort come back off the woodwork.

The home side grabbed what seemed a consolation with five minutes left when Nicolson swept the ball into the area following a corner, and Gunn brought the ball down before turning and firing low into the net from six yards.

They notched again in injury time, Urquhart rising to head in a route-one free-kick from substitute Ross McKinnon, but it was too little too late for Ross Jack’s men, and the Blue Toon headed back east with three points.

ELGIN CITY: Ray Jellema, David Niven, Paul McMullan, Graeme Beveridge (Sam Urquhart, 59), Jamie Duff, Paul Harkins, Craig Gunn, Mark Nicolson, Dennis Wyness (Ross McKinnon, 80), Shane Sutherland, Ally McKenzie (Daryl McHardy, 69). Subs not used: Dachi Kutsishvili, Antonio Vastano, Stuart Black (gk).

PETERHEAD: Graeme Smith, Graeme Sharp, Dean Richardson (Conner McGlinchey, 68), Steven Noble, Craig Tully, Dean Cowie, Andy Rodgers (Ryan McCann, 66), Jamie Redman, Rory McAllister, Jordon Brown, Bryan Gilfillan (Kevin Buchan, 84). Subs not used: Ryan McGeever, Jack Tait, Paul Jarvie (gk).

Booked: Tully, Gilfillan.

Attendance: 622

Peterhead    1

East Stirling 1

Sat 16 Nov 2013

Rodgers nets his stunning strike

In a season so far characterised by self-inflicted wounds and cruel luck, both were in evidence as the Blue Toon failed to build on their victory over Elgin City last week, an injury-time Jordan McKechnie goal seeing them drop two points at home to East Stirling.

It was a rare mistake from goalkeeper Graeme Smith which presented the visitors with their last-gasp strike, and a cruel blow after Andy Rodgers had put the Blue Toon in front with a goal fit to win any game.
Reece Donaldson, a defender signed on-loan until January from Championship side Raith Rovers, came into the Peterhead defence, starting to the right of Craig Tully. Captain Steven Noble completed the three-man back line.

Graeme Sharp and Dean Richardson patrolled the areas wide of the central midfield trio of Bryan Gilfillan, Jamie Redman and Jordon Brown, while Rodgers was joined in attack by Rory McAllister.

Rory McAllister

As early as the third minute, the front two combined to create an opening. McAllister knocked Richardson’s pass into the path of Rodgers, who lifted the ball over the defence for his strike-partner. It wouldn’t sit up for McAllister, though, and his left-foot effort skewed wide of the target.

A minute later, and McAllister hit wide of the other post, taking on a 12-yard snap-shot after Redman had flicked on a Sharp throw-in.

The strikers were happy to forage for scraps, and Rodgers would soon set up a golden opportunity for Brown. He raced onto McAllister’s pass before sending a gorgeous cross to the far post where it seemed the former Aberdeen midfielder only had to make contact to score.

Goalkeeper Grant Hay had other ideas, though, and he got down low to his right to beat away Brown’s point-blank header.

And the aerial route was tried again when Sharp found the head of McAllister, but again the one-time Inverness Caledonian Thistle striker was off-target.

As time wore on, the visitors came more into the game, and Kevin Turner headed into the side netting before, on the stroke of half-time, full-back Graeme MacGregor struck from distance, with Smith well-placed to save.

A clever set-piece saw Scott Maxwell play in captain Turner ten minutes after the interval, but the ex-Celtic man wasn’t able to connect as he’d have liked, and Smith again gathered comfortably.

Then, with 76 minutes on the clock, came Rodgers’ moment of glory. Never one to shy away from attempting the spectacular, he threw himself in the air to connect with Sharp’s cross, and set a stunning overhead kick looping beyond Hay and into the far corner.

It looked like Rodgers’ goal would be enough to seal the three points, but deep into injury time came the leveller that Smith will not want to see again in a hurry.

His initial punch from Jamie Glasgow’s corner was headed back across goal by fellow sub Paul Quinn. Michael McGowan directed the ball goalward and through the hands of the goalkeeper.

A ruck of players on the line stopped the header crossing the line, but when the ball squirted loose, McKechnie was on hand to force over the line, to seal a point.

The strike was met with jubilation, with all ten of the visitors’ players rushing to hail their scorer, a sign of how important the point was to John Coughlin’s men, who remain top of the table despite now having won just one of their last six games.

PETERHEAD: Graeme Smith, Graeme Sharp, Dean Richardson (Fraser McLaren, 57), Steven Noble, Craig Tully, Reece Donaldson, Andy Rodgers (Ryan McCann, 82), Jamie Redman, Rory McAllister (Kevin Buchan, 85), Jordon Brown, Bryan Gilfillan. Subs not used:  Conner McGlinchey, Ryan McGeever, Paul Jarvie (gk).

Booked: Redman.

EAST STIRLINGSHIRE: Grant Hay, Graeme MacGregor, Michael McGowan, Chris Townsley, Michael Bolochoweckyj, Rhys Devlin, Ross O’Donoghue (David McGauchie, 84), Michael Herd (Jamie Glasgow, 73), Kevin Turner, Jordan McKechnie, Scott Maxwell (Paul Quinn, 80). Subs not used: Jamie Tapping, Craig Gordon (gk).

Booked: Townsley.

Attendance: 545

Queen’s Park 0

Peterhead       5

Sat 23 Nov 2013

Queen's Park 0 Peterhead 5

The Blue Toon belatedly recorded their first clean sheet of the season against Queen’s Park, but the real story was at the other end, where ruthless finishing saw them put five past Spiders goalkeeper Lucas Birnstingl.

Andy Rodgers led the way, netting either side of Graeme Sharp’s first goal of the season. Bryan Gilfillan notched the fourth, and Rory McAllister rounded out the scoring six minutes from time.

On-loan Raith Rovers man Reece Donaldson continued after impressing on his debut last Saturday, but played to the left of Craig Tully in the back three, accommodating the return of Scott Ross on the right.

That meant Dean Richardson dropped to the bench, with captain Steven Noble restored to his more familiar left wing-back position. Dean Cowie returned to the midfield in place of Jordon Brown.

The Blue Toon were on the front foot almost from the off, but it took 25 minutes for the first goal to arrive.

When it did, though, it was worth the wait. Rodgers has clearly found focus and form in recent weeks, and from Sharp’s left-wing corner, he peeled away from his marker at the front post, before deftly flicking beyond goalkeeper Lucas Birnstingl.

It was 2-0 eight minutes from the interval. Sean Burns lost out under the pressure of Donaldson and Jamie Redman, allowing Sharp to pick up the ball ten yards inside his own half.

Andy Rodgers

He played a pass into the feet of Rodgers, before Dean Cowie slipped a superb ball back into the path of Sharp, who had continued his run down the right. The wing-back steadied himself before sliding a low shot under the goalkeeper and into the far corner of the net from 15 yards.

The amateur side had struggled to put Graeme Smith’s goal under any pressure in the first half, but David Gold did his best to change that as he picked the pocket of Gilfillan on the touchline before sending a shot narrowly wide of the target.

The Blue Toon have a tradition of netting superb goals at the National Stadium, and that was to continue as Rodgers curled home the third.

The ball broke kindly for the ex-Falkirk striker after Redman’s black-tackle on Michael Keenan, and from the left-corner of the area, he sent a superb effort beyond a helpless Birnstingl.

The goalkeeper had been helpless for the three goals so far, but was found wanting when Gilfillan bagged Peterhead’s fourth of the afternoon.

The Canadian raced from his line to clear Donaldson’s high ball away from the head of the ruthless Rodgers, but didn’t get enough on his punch and left Gilfillan with the simplest of tasks to find the net from 15 yards.

Smith was called into action to turn away Blair Spittal’s low strike, but the Toon were to go nap with six minutes remaining.

Cowie was again involved, seizing upon Bernard Coll’s loose pass before playing a neat reverse into the path of McAllister, who held his run to beat the offside trap, and steered low across the goalkeeper, for his eighth goal of the campaign.

The three points lift Peterhead to within a point of the playoff places, and just three points from the summit of League Two.

QUEEN’S PARK: Lucas Birnstingl, David Gold, Bernard Coll, Ross Fisher, Ricki Lamie (Scott Gibson, 84), Michael Keenan, Liam Gormley, David Anderson, Tony Quinn (Lee Davison, 67), Blair Spittal, Sean Burns (Thomas Collins, 46). Subs not used: Paul Gallacher, Connor McVey, Shaun Rooney, Blair Lochhead (gk).

Booked: Lamie.

PETERHEAD: Graeme Smith, Graeme Sharp, Steven Noble, Reece Donaldson (Dean Richardson, 80), Scott Ross, Dean Cowie, Andy Rodgers (Fraser McLaren, 68), Jamie Redman, Rory McAllister, Bryan Gilfillan (Jordon Brown, 63), Craig Tully. Subs not used: Ryan McCann, Kevin Buchan, Conner McGlinchey, Paul Jarvie (gk).

Booked: Gilfillan, Donaldson, Ross.

Attendance: 447

Peterhead 3

Montrose  0

Sat 30 Nov 2013

Peterhead 3 Montrose 0

The Blue Toon climbed to the top of League Two as they beat Montrose to take full advantage of the reduced league programme caused by other sides being on Scottish Cup duty.

Rory McAllister had a hand in all three goals, netting the first from a free-kick he had won for himself, before turning provider as Fraser McLaren steered home the second.

Substitute McLaren reversed roles with McAllister as he crossed for the striker to cushion a volley past Montrose’s former Cove Rangers goalkeeper Stuart McKenzie to put the icing on the cake.

Following the 5-0 win over Queen’s Park last Saturday, it was an unchanged Peterhead side that lined up, meaning Craig Tully retained his place alongside Scott Ross and on-loan Reece Donaldson in defence.

There was room on the bench for Ryan Strachan, the midfielder having missed much of the season so far with a knee injury, and he would ultimately make his return from the bench when he replaced Tully after an hour.

Montrose started with six players who once plied their trade at Balmoor. Defenders Stephen McNally and Jon Crawford, midfielders Paul Watson and Graham Webster, in-form striker Bryan Deasley and utility man Gary Wood were those in question.

In common with all games across the country, kick-off was preceded by a minute’s silence in memory of the victims of the tragic helicopter crash in Glasgow last night.

Scott Ross challenges Montrose's Scott Johnston

Once we got underway, it was a relatively tame opening period, with the two sides cancelling each other out before McKenzie became the first goalkeeper to be tested, dealing confidently with Jamie Redman’s volley after 15 minutes.

For the most part, the visitors would be reduced to efforts from distance, and that was the case when Watson’s 25-yard free-kick saw Graeme Smith scramble across his goal to push the strike round the post. And he had to, as the 28-year old’s shot was destined for the top corner.

Scott Ross challenges Montrose’s Scott Johnston

Ten minutes later, Graeme Sharp’s right wing cross fell to McAllister at the back post, but the striker saw his effort flash across the face of goal without troubling McKenzie.

The pair combined again, Sharp this time popping up on the left to deliver a tantalising cross towards the head of the striker. McAllister got his angles wrong though, and the ball ended wide of the target after coming off his shoulder.

The striker had one more chance before the interval, sending a free-kick fizzing over the bar from 20 yards.

And the Blue Toon continued to push forward after the interval. Just three minutes after the break, captain Steven Noble crossed from the left for Andy Rodgers, but having scored four goals in his last three games, Rodgers couldn’t direct his back-post head-flick on target.

Just after the hour, Montrose midfielder Terry Masson saw a deflected shot beaten away by Smith, but Peterhead were soon in front.

McAllister used all his experience to tempt former team-mate Wood into a foul 20 yards from goal, which saw the Montrose man booked. The Blue Toon’s top scorer lined up the set-piece, and drilled a low shot, arrow-straight into the bottom corner.

McLaren replaced Rodgers straight away, and almost immediately added the second goal. McAllister turned provider, timing his run nicely to beat the offside trap and cut the ball back for his new strike-partner at the back post. McLaren opened his foot up, and steered home.

Fraser McLaren takes the plaudits for his goal

McKenzie again saved comfortably from McAllister, before Masson saw Smith push another effort from outside the area over the before McAllister rounded off the scoring ten minutes from time.

McLaren was the creator this time, swinging in a cross from the right wing. It was judged perfectly for McAllister, and the ex-Brechin man side-footed home a neat volley, his tenth goal of the campaign.

So, three points and a second successive clean sheet move the Balmoor side to the top of the table on goal difference from Clyde and with the recent return to fitness of both Ross and Strachan, things are starting to fall into place for Jim McInally’s men ahead as the season nears the half-way point.

PETERHEAD: Graeme Smith, Graeme Sharp, Steven Noble, Reece Donaldson, Scott Ross, Dean Cowie, Andy Rodgers (Fraser McLaren, 66), Jamie Redman, Rory McAllister, Bryan Gilfillan (Jordon Brown, 74), Craig Tully (Ryan Strachan, 60). Subs not used: Dean Richardson, Ryan McCann, Kevin Buchan, Paul Jarvie (gk).

Booked: Tully, Cowie.

MONTROSE: Stuart McKenzie, Stephen McNally, Ricky McIntosh, Jon Crawford, Gary Wood, Ross McCord, Terry Masson, Paul Watson, Scott Johnston, Bryan Deasley, Graham Webster (Keiron Sturrock, 75). Subs not used: David Gray, Colin Wilson, Alan Campbell, Craig Bell, Sandy Wood (gk).

Booked: Crawford, G.Wood.

Attendance: 473

Clyde           1

Peterhead 3

Tue 10 Dec 2013

Andy Rodgers

Peterhead leapt back to the top of the League Two table after a convincing victory over previous incumbents, Clyde.

The Blue Toon overcame injuries suffered by Rory McAllister and Bryan Gilfillan to run out 3-1 winners, Andy Rodgers bagging a double and Reece Donaldson grabbing his first Peterhead goal, with winger Scott Ferguson replying for the home side.

With Jim McInally’s side in fine form, it was an unchanged side that lined up for the third game in  succession, meaning Ryan Strachan had to be content on the bench after making his comeback from injury as a substitute against Montrose.

And they got off to a fine start, taking the lead after just nine minutes. Steven Noble intercepted Ferguson’s flick-on and sent a ball forward to Gilfillan on the left.

Familiar to the Broadwood faithful after a short spell with Clyde last season, Gilfillan sent a left-footed ball up the inside-left channel for Rodgers, who cooly slid the ball through the legs of goalkeeper Nik Rajovic.

The lead lasted only two minutes, though Keiran MacDonald’s pass picked out the run of Stef McCluskey, and he sent the ball wide right to Ferguson.

The 18-year old was played on-side by Craig Tully, and he showed composure beyond his years to replicate Rodgers’ feat in nutmegging the goalkeeper.

Peterhead were back in front just a couple of minutes later. Graeme Sharp’s cross from the right didn’t look to be posing any real threat, but Rodgers got a touch just inside the area to loop a header over the despairing Rajovic and into the net.

The striker waged a one-man war on the home defence in the first half, and he clipped the crossbar when he took advantage of a generous ricochet off David Marsh to lift a shot beyond Rajovic.

McAllister was forced off after 34 minutes with a hamstring injury and his replacement, Fraser McLaren, should have put the Blue Toon out of sight. He was played in by Rodgers, but placed his shot wide of the target with just the goalkeeper to beat.

But it was 3-1 when Donaldson took full advantage of Rajovic’s flap at a Sharp corner, to turn over the line from close range. The on-loan Raith man simply couldn’t miss from little more than a yard out, but the goalkeeper will not want to see the goal again for quite some time.

At the other end, Graeme Smith was called into action, diving to his left to beat away John Sweeney’s sweetly struck volley after Dean Cowie had headed away MacDonald’s long throw from the left.

CLYDE: Nik Rajovic, Iain Gray (Gavin Brown, 67), Keiran MacDonald, Giuseppe Capuano, David Marsh, Brian McQueen, Scott Ferguson, John Sweeney, Pat Scullion (Michael Daly, 63), Stef McCluskey, Stuart McColm. Subs not used: Kevin Watt, Ryan Frances, Ryan McBeth, Grant Dickie, Chris Shaw (gk).

PETERHEAD: Graeme Smith, Graeme Sharp, Steven Noble, Reece Donaldson, Scott Ross, Dean Cowie, Andy Rodgers, Jamie Redman, Rory McAllister (Fraser McLaren, 34), Bryan Gilfillan (Jordon Brown, 46), Craig Tully (Ryan Strachan,60). Subs not used: Ryan McCann, Dean Richardson, Kevin Buchan, Ewen MacDonald (gk).

Booked: Ross, Brown, Donaldson.

Attendance: 498

Peterhead       1

Albion Rovers 1

Tue 17 Dec 2013

Peterhead 1 Albion Rovers 1

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

Peterhead        3

Stirling Albion 1

Sat 21 Dec 2013

Peterhead 3 Stirling Albion 1

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

Berwick Rangers 1

Peterhead             3

Sat 28 Dec 2013

A Supporters Trust-led initiative saw Berwick Rangers offer free entry to the last match of 2013, and the hospitality didn’t end there as Peterhead ran out 3-1 winners to open up a two-point gap over Clyde at the top of League Two.

Fresh from his hat-trick against Stirling Albion, Rory McAllister was again among the goals, netting a further two here to take his tally to five in a week, and 15 overall. Dean Cowie also netted for the Blue Toon.

Graeme Sharp missed out through injury and Jordon Brown dropped to the bench, meaning Ryan McCann started at right wing-back, with Bryan Gilfillan returning to the starting lineup in midfield.

McAllister had netted early against the Binos, and did the same here. Captain Steven Noble saw his corner from the right headed back in his direction, and his second cross was headed home by the Blue Toon’s top scorer.

The striker could have had a second when he worked his way in behind the home defence, only to lift his effort over the crossbar.

However Graeme Smith would be kept busy in the Peterhead goal, and he did well to deny Scott Dalziel from a Devon Jacobs cross.

The goalkeeper denied Darren Lavery and then Dalziel again before Andy Rodgers forced home goalkeeper Billy Bald into a point-blank save with his feet.

But the Berwick pressure paid off a minute before the interval, when they drew level. Dalziel flicked on a Jacobs throw, and Steven Notman took full advantage to rifle his side level.

Smith had to beat away Lee Currie’s driven free-kick shortly after the interval, but Peterhead were back in front just after the hour mark.

Again it was McAllister who found the net, curling a superb 25-yard free-kick beyond the helpless Bald and into the corner of the net.

The home side perhaps should have levelled as Ross Gray somehow managed to divert Kenny O’Brien’s cross onto the crossbar rather than into the net, but the outcome was put beyond doubt as the tireless Cowie seized on a poor back-header and drilled home the third.

McAllister was on the hunt for a second consecutive hat-trick, but he was denied by the goalkeeper in the dying stages as the Blue Toon took advantage of Clyde only drawing to move two points clear at the top of the table.

BERWICK RANGERS: Billy Bald, Devon Jacobs, Damon Gielty, Mick Dunlop, Dean Hoskins, Darren Currie, Kenny O’Brien, Steven Notman, Scott Dalziel, Darren Lavery (Dean Carse, 88), Ross Gray (Josh Morris, 80). Subs no used: Jonathan Fairburn, Ben Miller, Owen Ronald, Paul Grant (gk).

Booked: Gielty

PETERHEAD: Graeme Smith, Ryan McCann, Steven Noble, Reece Donaldson, Scott Ross, Dean Cowie, Andy Rodgers (Fraser McLaren, 64), Jamie Redman, Rory McAllister, Bryan Gilfillan (Jordon Brown, 77), Ryan Strachan. Subs not used: Conner McGlinchey, Kevin Buchan, Paul Jarvie (gk).

Booked: Ross, Cowie.

Attendance: 778

Peterhead 2

Elgin City   1

Sat 04 Jan 2014

Peterhead 2 Elgin City 1

The New Year started in positive fashion for the Blue Toon, after an injury time winner sealed a dramatic comeback against Elgin City, and extended the gap at the top of the League Two table to five points.

It gives Jim McInally’s men something of a buffer ahead of their rivals, but it was heavy weather against a City side whose battling qualities belied their league standing.

Indeed, Peterhead had to claw back the early deficit David Niven’s crisp strike had handed them. Graeme Sharp levelled before Jamie Redman netted in injury time to earn the home side the points.

With on-loan defender Reece Donaldson having been recalled by parent club Raith Rovers, Sharp’s inclusion after a hip injury was the only change to the side that had beaten Berwick Rangers and had not been defeated in the previous eight games.

But if Peterhead expected an easy ride against Ross Jack’s men, they were in for a rude awakening.

Although Andy Rodgers fired wide in the opening stages, and defender Jamie Duff sliced a Sharp cross narrowly beyond his own upright, the visitors took the lead after 13 minutes.

Paul Harkins’ inswinging corner from the left caused problems for the Blue Toon defence, and when Bryan Gilfillan was unable to stretch to clear Mark Nicolson’s knockdown, captain David Niven lashed high into the net from six yards.

Rory McAllister had scored five goals in his last two games, and he was inches away from connecting with Redman’s cross after 19 minutes.

Ryan McCann

The striker came close again when, after a neat exchange with Rodgers, he worked an opening but former Blue Toon goalkeeper Ray Jellema was equal to his effort.

McInally’s men were asserting themselves well at this stage, and Gilfillan will feel he should have done better after shooting wide from Sharp’s neat pass shortly before the interval.

A strong crowd of 737 had turned out on a relatively pleasant day, and they were rewarded as the two sides served up an entertaining start to the second half.
From end to end the play raged, and both sides looked equally capable of scoring – or indeed losing a goal.

There were no takers for Ryan McCann’s delightful pass across the six-yard box at one end, while Shane Sutherland really should have scored at the other after Craig Gunn had picked him out.

Graeme Smith in the Peterhead goal was a relieved man as Sutherland’s effort lacked the conviction required.

Another former Blue Toon man, Dennis Wyness, followed team-mate Duff into the book when he went down under the attentions of Dean Cowie. The midfielder hadn’t gotten too close to the ex-Aberdeen and Hearts man, though, and referee Mat Northcroft booked Wyness for a dive.

Harkins brought another fine stop out of Smith, before more good link-up play between strikers Rodgers and McAllister allowed the latter to curl an effort from the edge of the area towards goal. Jellema stood firm, though, and clutched the strike to his chest.

There was a sense a a goal was coming at one end or the other, and after 63 minutes, the net was indeed bulging – and Peterhead were level.

McAllister flicked Steven Noble’s throw into the path of Jamie Redman and he picked the perfect time to roll the ball into the path of right-back Sharp. His angled drive took a touch off Nicolson on the way in, but left Jellema well beaten.

The goal took the sting out the play to some extent, with Elgin starting to play more of a containing game, not committing too many forward for fear of losing what they had.

Peterhead’s hopes were dealt a blow when McAllister hobbled off with twenty minutes left, but his strike partner certainly stepped up to the mark

Rodgers chased down Smith’s long clearance on the left and cut inside Duff, resisting the opportunity to go down after the defender tugged his shirt, before curling towards goal with Jellema stretching out a hand to divert the effort away.

Jamie Redman celebrates

Rodgers is capable of the spectacular and it would have taken something in the vein of his stunning overhead kick against East Stirling to turn home Gilfillan’s ball two minutes from the end of regulation time. He threw himself at the ball, but couldn’t get the desired contact to test the goalkeeper.

More used to finding the net, the maverick hit-man had to settle for a supporting role in the winning goal.

It was a goal that typified the grit and determination that have put the Blue Toon in the position they are in. Two minutes into injury time and looking all set for a share of the spoils, captain Noble dispossessed Gunn, allowing Gilfillan to slip a ball forward.

McCann’s clever flick helped Rodgers get on the end of the pass, and Jamie Redman showed the heart of a lion to get in front of Paul McMullan and turn the ball home.
His energetic celebrations showed just what it meant to the hard-working midfielder, and his team-mates swamped him.

As if the ex-Brechin City man hadn’t made enough of a contribution, he ended the game with a black eye, having collided with team-mate Scott Ross as those in the blue shirts threw themselves in front of everything their opponents could send their way in the dying seconds.

It was tough and towsy at times, but effective, and the Blue Toon certainly earned their rewards.

PETERHEAD: Graeme Smith, Graeme Sharp, Steven Noble, Ryan McCann (Kevin Buchan, 90), Scott Ross, Dean Cowie, Andy Rodgers (Conner McGlinchey, 90), Jamie Redman, Rory McAllister (Jordon Brown, 70), Bryan Gilfillan, Ryan Strachan. Subs not used: Greg Alexander, Paul Jarvie (gk).

Booked: Gilfillan.

ELGIN CITY: Ray Jellema, David Niven, Paul McMullan, Sean Crighton, Jamie Duff, Mark Nicolson, Craig Gunn, Paul Harkins, Dennis Wyness, Shane Sutherland, Sam Urquhart. Subs not used: Ally McKenzie, Graeme Beveridge, Adam McLeod, Ross McKinnon, Connor McAulay, Stewart Black (gk).

Booked: Duff, Wyness, Gunn, Nicolson.

Attendance: 737

Peterhead       1

Queen’s Park 0

Sat 25 Jan 2014

Peterhead 1 Queen’s Park 0

A goal from man of the match Scott Ross ten minutes from half-time proved to be decisive as the Blue Toon maintained their 5-point gap at the top of the table thanks to a hard-fought  win over Queen’s Park at Balmoor.

In a game that Jim McInally would admit wasn’t even as good as “ugly”, Ross’ header from a Graeme Sharp corner proved decisive.
The Blue Toon were unchanged from the 3-2 win over Montrose at Links Park last week, and were first to threaten in a game that saw chances at a premium.

Ross played a long ball out of defence, finding Rory McAllister who created an opening for himself, but saw his 25-yard comfortably held by Spiders goalkeeper Lucas Birnstingl.

The goalkeeper was left helpless when Ross escaped the attentions of marker Tony Quinn from Sharp’s left-wing corner after 35 minutes, and from well inside the six-yard box, he headed into the net.

Scott Ross finds the net

The visitors were sparked into action by the goal, and twice threatened in the space of sixty seconds.

Midfield playmaker Blair Spittal found space warm the gloves of Graeme Smith with a left-footed shot from distance, before a minute later slipping a neat pass through to Thomas Collins who forced the goalkeeper to push his effort over the crossbar.

But the Blue Toon could have been further ahead before the interval, and Andy Rodgers cross found the head of League Two’s top scorer, McAllister, but on this occasion the ex-Brechin City man nodded wide of the target.

Defences were on top for the most part but Ross again found space from a set piece, this time a Ryan Strachan free-kick, to head over the bar shortly after the restart.

And Strachan had to be alert to cut out Shaun Rooney’s cross from the right a few minutes later, the Spiders winger racing away from Conner McGlinchey before crossing from the bye-line.

At the other end, McGlinchey set an attack in motion that saw McAllister take a neat touch through the legs of Paul Gallagher before sending a ball across the box for Sharp, only for Ross Fisher to block.

There was a moment of panic with 13 minutes remaining as Smith failed to hold a Spittal corner, giving Quinn the chance to shoot. His effort came back off the goalkeeper, and Strachan hacked Joao Vitoria’s header off the line.

There were late chances for Peterhead to extend their lead, with Fisher clearing away a McAllister header, and then Dean Cowie firing wide of the target, but they had to settle for the single-goal win, and a valuable three points as they maintain their lead at the top of the table.

PETERHEAD: Graeme Smith, Graeme Sharp, Steven Noble, Conner McGlinchey (Ryan McCann, 62), Scott Ross, Dean Cowie, Andy Rodgers (Fraser McLaren, 62), Jamie Redman (Jordon Brown, 76), Rory McAllister, Bryan Gilfillan, Ryan Strachan. Subs not used: Kevin Buchan, Paul Jarvie (gk).

Booked: Cowie.

QUEEN’S PARK: Lucas Birnstingl, Ross Fisher, Bernard Coll, Scott Gibson, Paul Gallagher, Conor McVey (Sean Burns, 89), Blair Spittal, David Anderson, Thomas Collins (Joao Pereira Vitoria, 68), Tony Quinn (Liam Gormley, 78), Shaun Rooney. Subs not used Gavin Mitchell, James Baty, Grant Mosson Blair Lochhead.

Booked: Gallagher.

Attendance: 542

Peterhead    4

East Stirling 0

Sat 01 Mar 2014

Peterhead maintained their five-point lead at the top of League Two with a comprehensive victory over East Stirlingshire on a day which also saw nearest challengers Annan Athletic and Clyde also hit four goals apiece.

Jordon Brown, a Jordan Tapping own-goal, Rory McAllister and Andy Rodgers did the damage for Peterhead, as they set up a midweek crunch tie against second-placed Annan, despite being forced to field a makeshift side.

With centre-backs Scott Ross and Ross Smith missing through suspension, midfielder Jamie Redman was asked to fill in at the back, while Dean Cowie and Rodgers returned from injury to go back into the starting eleven.

Ryan McCann was missing as he prepared for his wedding, but Tony Low, who last played for the club during Steve Paterson’s reign, was named on the bench.

Despite the thrown-together look of the Peterhead side, they would be the better side throughout against a Shire side who won out the last time the sides met, at Ochilview in January.

Graeme Smith was the first goalkeeper to be tested, throwing himself down to his left to turn away Max Wright’s low strike.

A corner from the right saw Blue Toon captain Steven Noble’s delivery headed off the line by Ricky Miller after 14 minutes, but five minutes later, a smilar delivery brought about the opening goal.

Again Noble swung the ball towards the back post, and Brown popped to head home the opener.

The deliveries of Noble were a constant menace to the visitors defence, and after 24 minutes a free-kick found the head of McAllister , but his header was over the bar.

A second goal was coming, and it duly arrived after 27 minutes – but not from an expected source.

Graeme Sharp’s ball into the area had a bit of zip to it, and Rodgers did well to lay off for Bryan Gilfillan. The one-time Gretna man’s shot looked to be covered by Grant Hay, but it took a deflected off the luckless Tapping and into the net.

There were claims for a penalty as Rodgers appeared to be bundled over by Scott Maxwell, but referee Gavin Duncan waved away the claims, instead signalling a goal kick.

With half-time on the horizon, the Shire had a couple of opportunities to ease themselves back into the game.

It seemed midfielder David Greenhill was getting his eye in when he headed past the upright, as just a minute later he met Wright’s cross to force a fine stop from Peterhead keeper Smith.

But the outcome was put beyond doubt in first-half injury time, as Fraser McLaren twisted and teased his way past Tapping before being brought down by Chris Townsley. This time the referee did point to the spot, and McAllister did what he always does, finding the net from 12 yards.

If a goal at the end of the first half had put the game beyond John Coughlin’s men, another five minutes into the second period surely left them deflated.

It was as simple a move as you’ll see. Redman to McAllister, McAllister to Rodgers, and the ex-Falkirk man found the net in the nonchalant style we’ve come to expect, stylishly lifting the ball beyond Hay.

The front pair of McAllister and Rodgers combined again soon after, the latter picking out McLaren for what should have been a fifth goal, but the former Berwick winger fluffed his lines and sent the ball out of the ground when it seemed easier to score.

A brief cameo from Low in the dying stages could have seen the former Caley Thistle winger find the net, but he sliced wide of the target from close range, as the Blue Toon saw out a comfortable win.

PETERHEAD: Graeme Smith, Graeme Sharp, Steven Noble, Jordon Brown, Bryan Gilfillan, Dean Cowie (Dean Richardson, 78), Andy Rodgers (Conner McGlinchey, 69), Jamie Redman, Rory McAllister (Tony Low, 87), Fraser McLaren, Ryan Strachan. Subs not used: Craig Tully, Paul Jarvie (gk).

EAST STIRLINGSHIRE: Grant Hay, Jordan Tapping (Jordan McKechnie, 77), Scott Maxwell, Chris Townsley, Ricky Miller, Rhys Devlin (Nathan Shepherd, 63), Graeme McGregor, David Greenhill, Paul Quinn, Ross O’Donoghue (Jamie Glasgow, 74), Max Wright. Subs not used: Michael Herd, Craig Gordon (gk).

Booked: Tapping, Wright.

Attendance: 554

Peterhead         3

Annan Athletic 1

Thu 06 Mar 2014

Peterhead strengthened their position at the top of League Two, as goals from Ryan Strachan, Rory McAllister and captain Steven Noble helped them to a well-deserved victory over nearest challengers Annan Athletic.

This match had already seemed likely to play a part in the title race on its original date of February 1, but with the first attempt to play the match having been abandoned after 20 minutes, the rearranged fixture had taken on added significance.

The Black and Golds have usurped Clyde to become the side most likely to catch Jim McInally’s league leaders, but missed the change to close a gap that had been as wide as 10 points less than a fortnight ago, to just two.

Both sides had recorded 4-0 wins at the weekend, Peterhead over East Stirlingshire in a match that sadly grabbed the headlines for all the wrong reasons, while Annan saw off a resurgent Berwick Rangers.

Following the events of Saturday, both sides reinforced their support for the Show Racism The Red Card campaign, warming up in t-shirts promoting the campaign, and holding aloft SRtRC banners prior to kick-off.

But thankfully all the headlines would be written on the pitch, as the Blue Toon blew away their opponents.

It was a more familiar lineup than at the weekend, with Scott Ross and Ross Smith returning to their regular defensive slots. Ryan McCann was included on the bench having missed out on Saturday ahead of his wedding on Sunday.

And although Annan were first to threaten, through Steven Black’s seventh minute shot, Peterhead would go on to dominate large periods of the match.

They took the lead just two minutes later as a move rehearsed on the training ground paid dividends.

Noble picked out Strachan on the edge of the area from a right-wing corner, and the former Aberdeen and Celtic man drilled a shot from 18 yards, just inside Kenny Arthur’s right-hand upright.

Ryan Strachan opens the scoring

Another Noble corner, this time more conventional in its delivery, found Ross at the back post, but with Arthur having been drawn off his line by the delivery, the centre-back couldn’t join Strachan on the scoresheet.

But the second goal came after just 25 minutes, and on its own was worthy of the admission fee. Bryan Gilfillan lifted a ball into the path of McAllister, and he sent an exquisite chip over the goalkeeper from all of 25 yards.

It was another to add to the scrapbook for the Blue Toon’s top scorer, but there was more to come from Peterhead, and Andy Rodgers almost outdid his strike partner with an overhead kick, but it drifted wide of the target.

McAllister should perhaps have made the points safe before the interval when he met Rodgers’ cross from the left after a skewed Arthur clearance, but his effort was well off target.

And a seed of doubt may have come into Blue Toon minds when just a minute later, Annan were gifted a goal back. Former Rangers kid Andy Mitchell crossed from the left, and his delivery was turned home by the unfortunate Ross.

That boosted the visitors and Kenny MacKay, a gem of a player plucked from the juniors by manager Jim Chapman, threatened a leveller soon after, but Graeme Smith was more than a match for his low strike.

That said, the game could have been all over by the interval. McAllister, it seemed, was on a one-man mission to earn the points, but passed up three opportunities in the dying stages of the first 45 minutes.

And they came out the traps well in the second period, too. Dean Cowie had already hit over the bar when, just three minutes after the restart, Noble embarked on a sublime run from his own half,. trading passes with McAllister before being brought down by the challenge of Peter Watson.

It looked every inch a deserved penalty kick, but referee Mat Northcroft thought otherwise, booking the Blue Toon captain for what he saw as a dive.

Not to be denied, Noble found the net two minutes later. It was from his pass, again inside his own half, that McAllister’s turn left Watson sprawling on the turf. The striker raced away down the left before, in a neat reverse from their usual roles, cutting the ball back for Noble to side-foot home from six yards.

Celebrations after Steven Noble’s goal

It was a rare goal for the former Stranraer man, but the resultant ‘piley-on’ showed  what it meant to the skipper and his team-mates.

Still the chances came for Peterhead, and with a quarter-hour remaining, they could have been out of sight. First McAllister laid off for Gilfillan, who saw his shot deflected away for a corner. Then Gilfillan crossed for the striker, who headed over the bar.

The visitors could have grabbed a late lifeline had Mackay had a bit more luck, his angled shot leaving Smith beaten, but coming back off the upright.

PETERHEAD: Graeme Smith, Graeme Sharp, Steven Noble, Ross Smith, Scott Ross, Dean Cowie, Andy Rodgers (Ryan McCann, 88), Jamie Redman, Rory McAllister (Fraser McLaren, 83), Bryan Gilfillan (Jordon Brown, 86), Ryan Strachan. Subs not used: Dean Richardson, Conner McGlinchey, Tony Low, Paul Jarvie (gk).

Booked: Gilfillan, Noble.

ANNAN ATHLETIC: Kenny Arthur, Steven Sloan, Martin McNiff, Peter Watson, Steven Black, Chris Jardine (Dan Orsi, 77), Iain Chisholm, Andy Mitchell, Kenny Mackay, Scott Davidson (Keiron Brannan , 77), Ally Love (Blair Henderson, 59). Subs not used: Peter Bradley, Matty Flynn, Jordan Moffat, Alex Mitchell (gk).

Booked: Jardine.

Attendance: 607