Peterhead’s Mr Versatile, Alan Cook, is back in his protective boot in a bid to help him recover from a stress fracture in his shin. ‘Cookie’ played in the Premier Sports Cup back in July however after feeling discomfort in his shin he was rested and ordered to put on the boot to help speed up the recovery process.
Progress was seen and the 29-year-old came on as a substitute against East Fife, Clyde and Cove Rangers last month however the discomfort returned and after further tests it was agreed that Alan needed to go back into the boot until a full recovery took place.
Manager Jim McInally said: “It has been a frustrating time for Alan as he felt that he could play through the problem however that has proven not to be the case. He will now miss the next few weeks but hopefully that will see him fully get over this.”
The Blue Toon picked up their second successive League 1 win, and their first away success of the campaign, by seeing off Alloa 4-2 at the Indodrill Stadium.
A slow start saw Jim McInally’s side fall behind to a familiar face before an excellent recovery put them 2-1 ahead, against ten men, only for the sides to go in level at the break. An excellent substitution at half-time paved the way for Peterhead to regain the lead before a late fourth goal secured the points.
The visiting Peterhead side started with a three-man central defence with Andrew McDonald joining David Wilson and Jason Brown at the back. Flynn Duffy dropped to the bench and watched on as his team-mates were sluggish in the opening exchanges and they paid a price for that by falling behind on 10 minutes.
Former Blue Toon striker Steven Boyd grabbed the goal as he darted forward and picked out Kevin Cawley with a pass that he flicked onto Ewan Henderson who deftly teed the ball up for Boyd to crack home a left foot shot from 18 yards.
Peterhead’s day looked to be going from bad to worse when Ryan Conroy limped off on 17 minutes to be replaced Duffy however McInally’s men soon sparked into life.
Andrew McCarthy surged forward on the right and sent over a low cross that just needed a touch to get over the line.
On 29 minutes McCarthy had better luck as he flashed the ball into the Alloa box once more and Niah Payne applied the finish with a first time shot to make the score 1-1.
Five minutes later Peterhead forced a corner however the flag-kick was delayed as both McDonald and home goalkeeper David Hutton were booked as they jostled.
The yellow cards were to have an impact on the game as, just two minutes later, some dogged work in midfield presented Scott Brown with a shooting opportunity and when Hutton spilled his effort Payne was onto the ball in a flash.
Hutton sent the striker flying to pick up his second yellow card and be sent off with Keir Burt brought on to face the spot-kick in place of Cawley.
Scott Brown did an immaculate job from 12 yards to put Peterhead into the lead however going in front seemed to relax the players and that lack of focus saw Alloa equalise within 30 seconds.
The ball was fed out left for Daniel Church and his swinging cross was met by Charlie Gilmour who volleyed past Long.
At the break manager McInally looked to increase his strike force by bringing on McLean with McDonald taking off with the defender’s yellow card a possible reason for his removal.
The change paid dividends just before the hour mark as McLean lost his marker at a corner from Duffy and sent a header into the net to put Peterhead ahead for a second time.
Alloa were not out of things and Adam King fired an opening wide before McLean hit the bar with another header from a set-piece on 70 minutes.
The visitors went on to enjoy the bulk of possession however a further goal was required to ensure that the three points went up the road and Hamish Ritchie almost provided however his shot flashed wide.
The goal arrived on 84 minutes in style when Josh Mulligan careered forward for 40 yards and sent a pass to Payne who took his time before providing the perfect cutback for Mulligan to slam home his second senior goal two weeks after grabbing his first.
New signing Grant Savoury came off the bench to make his debut and he almost scored with his first touch before referee Steven Kirkland blew for full-time.
Peterhead return to action at Alloa two weeks after recording their best win of the season when Dumbarton were seen off 5-0 with manager Jim McInally looking for his players to get back into the groove quickly.
Jim said: “I always prefer for the team to be playing as opposed to having a break and certainly, when you have won well, you want to go again really quickly. We have not been idle however as played a bounce game that kept a lot of the players ticking over as well as allowing me to try out a couple of things shape wise.”
“We will look to get back to a high level of performance quickly.”
Alloa go into the game on the back of a 3-1 defeat from Cove Rangers and the Balmoor manager has looked into that game a lot deeper than just the score-line as he explained: “Any team is going to be affected by having a player sent off in the first minute like Alloa were. However in saying that they handled it quite well and they could have scored when the game was at 1-1 with 10 minutes to go.”
“Last season we had a game against Cove where we went down to nine men and whilst we lost, we emerged with a lot of credit for how we played. I took a lot of satisfaction from that display and I am sure the Alloa manager Barry Ferguson will feel the same.”
The sides met on the opening day of the season and the Blue Toon emerged victorious 2-0 thanks to goals from Russell McLean and Niah Payne with Jim saying: “We caught Alloa on a bad afternoon as they came up to our place short of bodies and missing players such as Scott Taggart and Kevin Cawley who have been regulars for years.”
“The two teams have changed a bit since then so it is a case of starting again. Every fixture in this league gives you problems and this one will be no different. We will look to make ourselves difficult opponents and then look to kick on from the Dumbarton game and put in the same style of energetic performance.”
Team News – Striker Russell McLean returns to the squad after a knee injury and is joined by new recruit, former Celtic youngster Grant Savoury. Jordon Brown’s comeback from a hamstring injury has been delayed and on-loan Aberdeen attacker Ryan Duncan is again unable to make his debut due to a groin problem and he joins Alan Cook and Gary Fraser on the side-lines.
Peterhead will not be able to use the attacking threat of Jordon Brown against hosts Alloa tomorrow after the 27 year old confirmed that the hamstring problem that has troubled him since last month had flared up again.
Jordon last played competitively for the Balmoor side in their SPFL Trust Trophy tie against East Fife at the beginning of September during which he was forced off due to the injury. After a period of rest the midfielder featured in a closed door game last week and it was hoped that he would be in manager Jim McInally’s squad to face the Wasps.
A telephone call to Jim earlier today confirmed that Brown would not make it with the Balmoor manager saying: “It looks like the problem has returned. Jordon let me know that he was feeling some discomfort and we agreed that we could not take a risk with him against Alloa.”
“Hopefully the problem is not as bad as the one he experienced last month.”
Former Celtic wide man Grant Savoury has put pen to paper on a deal with Peterhead until the end of season 2022/ 23. The 21 year old has been training with the Blue Toon for several weeks and recently scored three times in a closed door game. Balmoor Manager Jim McInally said: “it is a win-win for all parties. We have secured the services of a player who has a fantastic pedigree and Grant has a platform to launch his career again.” “He is in my thoughts for Saturday’s trip to Alloa.”
Blue Toon defender Josh Mulligan will use Peterhead’s last performance as a confidence boost for the trip to the Indodrill Stadium on Saturday to face Alloa.
The on-loan Dundee player said: “I think beating Dumbarton 5-0 will give us the confidence to go to Alloa and put in a performance similar to that one. We beat Alloa in the first game of the season so if we put in a performance like that one or the Dumbarton one it should go our way”.
Peterhead’s five-star performance against the Sons included Mulligan’s first ever professional goal, and he believes his side outplayed their visitors as opposed to merely benefitting from very tricky conditions.
Josh said: “I think we dealt with the conditions better than Dumbarton did, but it was not just that led to the win, as overall, as a team, we outplayed them in lots of way. When we played into the wind in the first half, we kept a good shape and didn’t let them get through. Then in the second half we were really good at attacking them all the time. We were going forward, being positive and we managed to get a few goals so it was a great performance from all the boys”.
Peterhead may have had last weekend off from competitive action week due to the international break, however the games did not stop for the players as they hit 4 against a League 2 side in a friendly.
First time goalscorer Mulligan was happy to keep the 90 minutes coming thick and fast as he explained: “I played in friendlies with Dundee and Peterhead so I certainly wasn’t doing nothing. I would rather play than be off to be honest.”
Alloa who have secured 2 wins in their past 5 games lost their previous fixture 3-1 to fellow North-East side Cove Rangers and Mulligan knows they will be out for revenge after their 2-0 loss at Balmoor on the opening day with goals thanks to Russell McLean and Niah Payne.
Josh said: “I think we can go there and win. Cove beat them and also beat us recently however we played well that day and were a bit unlucky. We just need to be confident and play like we did against Dumbarton. I feel like we can beat every team in this league if we’re at it so I think we can beat Alloa. We should be confident going into that game”.
Saturday’s game will be McInally’s first since passing his 10th anniversary of overseeing the Blue Toon and Josh feels he’s learned a lot so far in his time at Balmoor from the longest serving manager in Scotland.
“He’s great, I think he’s brilliant. He’s had so much experience in the game and it’s just been great learning off him. He’s been at Peterhead for 10 years so he knows the club very well too and I think he’s helped me a lot individually as well. He wants me to go back into the Dundee team and do well. He’s a good manager and I’ve learned a lot from him.”