Thornton Hibs 3, Blairgowrie 2
Thornton eventually took the honours from this game but both sets of players should be congratulated for providing such great entertainment on a playing surface that seriously deteriorated as the rain came down heavily during the second-half.
Andy Adam came close to giving the Hibs an early lead from a free-kick that flashed wide of its intended target but he was merely setting his sights for later in the game. It was Chris Ireland who gave Thornton a 20th minute lead as he beat the offside trap to race clear before drifting past Gordon O’Brien then rolling the ball into the unguarded net.
Ireland then turned provider with a cross from which Garry Thomson headed towards goal. O’Brien made a terrific point blank save however the ball fell at the feet of Thomson who gratefully slid the ball home.
It was by no means one-way traffic though with the Hibs’ ‘keeper, Mark Rowbotham, keeping his side in front with some crucial saves.
Ryan McNeil came desperately close to making it three when he got on the end of Daniel McNab’s perfect cross but O’Brien denied the Hibs’ midfielder with yet another brilliant save.
The second-half hadn’t long started when McNab received a second yellow card but this imbalance in numbers didn’t appear to affect Thornton as they further increased their lead in the 65th minute.
There were loud shouts for a penalty as Scott Tovey brought down Chris Ireland on the edge of the box. The referee awarded a free-kick that Andy Adam buried in style to put the Hibs out of sight – or so they thought!
Instead this goal appeared to fire up The Berrypickers and they laid siege on the Hibs’ goal. They eventually made the breakthrough when Mark Rowbotham could only help Gary Axworthy’s corner-kick into his own goal with nine minutes remaining.
In the 90th minute Ben Middleton hit a screamer on the angle to reduce the deficit to just one but it was a case of too little too late as the ten men held on to notch their first home win of 2015.
Window Store Hibs’ Man of the Match – Andy Adam
Thornton Hibs; Rowbotham, McGowan, Drummond, Hepburn, Shields, McNeil, Crichton, Adam, Ireland, McNab, Thomson. Subs: Clark, Gordon, Wilson.
Blairgowrie: O’Brien, Simpson, Nicoll, Millar, Tovey, Neave, Axworthy, Duncan, Maloney, Bremner, Kelly. Subs: Findlay, Middleton, Hood.
Referee: Mr W. Cooper