HATS off to Forfar for a tremendous second half performance to earn a draw against league leaders Arbroath at Station Park on Saturday (writes Alan Ducat.
The Loons looked out with the washing at a goal down and playing with ten men - primarily because of the antics of ref Des Roake, who, for the greater part of the first period, didn’t look up to the task of officiating over a derby encounter.
He was too quick to go for his cards, Indeed, with a tad of common sense he could have got through the entire ninety minutes with them kept safely in his pocket.
But he simply couldn’t get his yellow out quick enough, and, having made a rod for his own back, he sent Forfar centre-back Michael Bolocheweckyj for two of the softest challenges you’re ever likely to witness.
The decision left the Loons with a mountain to climb, but they dug the crampons out and got on with the task.
The whistler’s antics so incensed manager Dick Campbell he was called over for a pow-wow just before the break.
Whatever Dick said to the ref it worked the oracle, for Mr Roache had a much better second half.
So did Forfar, and a leveller eight minutes from time was no more than they deserved. Indeed, with a bit of luck they could have claimed all three points.
Forfar went into the game with Paterson replacing the suspended McHugh in goal.
There was little between the teams in the opening exchanges, but it was the visitors who surged into the lead in 12 minutes.
But there appeared to be more than a suspicion of offside as Lee Sibanda fastened on to a Josh Falkingham pass, rounded the keeper and slipped the ball into the empty net.
Forfar came roaring back, and, after Low had skinned his marker on the left, Brown wasn’t far away with a headed effort. Then Templeman tested the keeper with another header as the home side began to get the upper hand.
That was until the 35th minute, when Bolochowckyj was shown a second yellow card for his second challenge - leaving the Loons to soldier on with ten men.
Against a team making the running in the Scottish second division that should have been a tall order, but Arbroath were no great shakes.
Indeed, it was Forfar who created the better chances in the run-up to the break.
Joe Shaughnessy came close with a headed effort from a corner, and surely he will never get closer than he did a minute from the break.
Another corner on the left from Martyn Fotheringham, another power header and this time the ball smacked against the crossbar, some say down and over the line before being cleared to safety.
But there’s was nothing doing from a ref probably mulling over how he could up his yellow card count.
It was going to need a Herculean effort from Forfar in the second period and, my word, how the fans got it.
From the first whistle the home side took the game to the Lichties, forcing them into errors in a bid to stem the blue tide.
The first action saw Low pick out Brown, who sizzled a 25-yard drive inches wide of the post.
Then Jordon Brown fastened on to a poor pass-back and waltzed round the goalkeeper, only to fall over the ball and pass-up the chance of sliding into an empty net.
It surely wasn’t going to be another of those days for the Loons.
Low tested the keeper with a crisp drive as the game continued in the one direction, but, with time running out, Forfar really needed to pull something special out of the bag.
Alas, the breakthrough came in the 82nd minute, a Low corner on the right being met by that man Shaughnessy, who fairly bulleted a headed effort high past Hill into the net.
It was the signal for the Loons to push for the winner, and they came so desperately close to getting it on a couple of occasions, perhaps the best opportunity coming when Ross Campbell tricked his way into the box on the right and rounded the keeper. Alas, the substitute couldn’t quite wrap his foot round the ball enough to get his shot on target.
A goal then would have been the icing on the cake, but a draw wasn’t a bad result considering what they had to put up with in the early part of the game.
Forfar Athletic - Paterson, Hegarty, Bolocheweckyj, Shaughnessy, Iain Campbell, Fotheringham (Ross Campbell), Mowat (Motion), Brown (Byers), Low, Crawford and Templeman.
Arbroath - Hill, Baxter, Malcolm, Busch, McAnespie, Sibanda (Gibson), Kerr, Falkingham, Brown (Bryce), Doris (Elfverson) and Swankie.