Plucky Peterhead showed great character as they came from two goals down at the home of League 1 leaders Dunfermline to earn a point in a 2-2 draw. The Balmoor men looked to have missed out on a deserved point when Nikolay Todorov added to Rhys Breen’s opener to give the Pars a two-goal advantage with six minutes left. The Blue Toon rallied and the Brown brothers combined for Jason to pull one back and deep into injury time debutant Michael Hewitt restored parity with his first ever senior goal to ensure a point headed north.
Manager Jim McInally made changes from the side that lost to Elgin City in the SPFL Trust Trophy last weekend with Tom Ritchie returning in goal in place of Sandy Wood. Robbie Scullion, Hewitt and Ryan Dow started in midfield with Ramez Hefzalla playing up front following his return from international duty with Egypt’s under-20 side. Prince Asare moved to the substitutes’ bench with David Wilson, Jack Wilkie and Conor O’Keefe missing out due to injuries with Chris Kisuka suspended.
The hosts forced the first corner of the game on four minutes and Breen met Joe Chalmers’ dead-ball however his header flew wide of Ritchie’s goal. A resilient looking Peterhead forced their first chance on 16 minutes after a busy Hefzalla was tripped by Breen and skipper Paul Dixon whipped over a dangerous looking set-piece however Breen atoned for his foul by heading clear. The Pars earned another corner on 20 minutes and Josh Edwards was on the end of Chris Mochrie’s delivery but Ritchie was not troubled with the shot-stopper watching a drive from Todorov fly past shortly afterwards.
Ritchie was called into action when Lewis McCann tried his luck from long-distance with the on-loan Aberdeen shot-stopper showing that he was equal to the challenge. With confidence growing Jack Brown created an opportunity for Hewitt on 30 minutes however Breen got into block just as the temporary recruit from Ayr United let fly. Dunfermline racked up another two corners in quick succession with Breen getting his head on the second one with Ritchie again able to watch the ball miss his goal. The Fifers had one more opportunity to take the lead before the break when a quickly taken thrown in reached Todorov however the blue shirted defence stood firm and the danger was cleared.
Dunfermline manager James McPake made an attacking change at the break with Craig Wighton coming on for Kyle Macdonald and that seemed to pep up their attack with Mochrie looking to test Ritchie. Balmoor boss McInally replaced Hefzalla with Danny Strachan five minutes into the second half with the replacement moving into a midfield role and Dow being switched to an attacking position. Chalmers charged forward on the hour mark and teed up Mochrie with the on-loan Dundee United man’s effort being carefully watched by Ritchie as it flashed past.
Peterhead created the best chance of the game so far on 61 minutes when former Par Dow cracked a 30-yard free-kick directly at Deniz Mehmet’s goal and with the goalkeeper beaten Dow watched on in agony as his effort struck the bar. Ryan Strachan was booked for a foul on Mochrie midway through the second half, and when the ball was fed out wide to Edwards, Dunfermline were able to open the scoring. Edwards sent a cross to the back post where Breen looked to be well-policed by Andy McDonald and Dixon however when his first effort was blocked the ball dropped back into his path and Breen was able to squeeze it under Ritchie.
Mochrie was denied by Ritchie before Peterhead made a second change with Jordon Brown coming on for Scullion on 74 minutes. A third change came with nine minutes left when an injured Dixon was withdrawn for Cody McLeod and it looked like the game was lost when the hosts grabbed a second three minutes later. Again, the goal came from Dunfermline’s left wing with Edwards firing over another deep cross that Todorov stabbed in from six yards out.
The Blue Toon refused to give up and they pulled a goal back on 87 minutes. A throw in from the right reached Danny Strachan and he scrapped his way towards goal before the ball broke in-between Breen and Jordon Brown. Jordon made a sliding challenge for the loose ball and his intervention created the chance for his brother Jason to net from a couple of yards out.
With home nerves now in the air manager McInally told Jason to play as a centre forward for the rest of the game and the defender turned front-man won a foul four minutes into added on time wide on the right wing some 40 yards from the home goal. McDonald launched a monster dead ball over the Dunfermline defence and Hewitt ran into meet it with a looping header from seven yards that dropped high into the net. It was the 21-year old’s first ever professional goal and he is unlikely to score another one that is quite so dramatic.
Peterhead – Ritchie, Gillies, Dixon (McLeod 81), R Strachan, Jason Brown, McDonald, Scullion (Jordon Brown 74), Hewitt, Jack Brown, Dow, Hefzalla (D Strachan 50)
Unused substitutes – Asare, Wood (G/k)
Assistant manager David Nicholls after-match comments – https://youtu.be/nkInCHMgHbg