Controversy as Barbour inspires Broch to a point

FRASERBURGH V COVE RANGERS'(DUNCAN BROWN)''BROCH'SGRAHAM JOHNSTON TRYS TO TURN COVE'S PAUL EMSLIE
FRASERBURGH V COVE RANGERS'(DUNCAN BROWN)''BROCH'SGRAHAM JOHNSTON TRYS TO TURN COVE'S PAUL EMSLIE

A penalty kick deep into injury-time saved Deveronvale’s skin as they snatched a point from the jaws of defeat at Bellslea Park in a game stricken with controversy.

After going a goal behind a revitalised Fraserburgh came out in the second half and looked to have gained a late winner through Ryan Christie, until a 94th minute penalty from Mike McKenzie – who incidentally blazed over from 12 yards in the first half – secured a point for the Vale.

Fraserburgh looked to avenge the two points carelessly dropped at Brora last week and certainly made an enterprising start to this match against a Deveronvale side who had won their last four.

A corner from the right-hand side eventually came to PA Bruce at the back post, after putting the ball back into the danger zone it fell to Bryan Hay who should have done better with the chance, hitting over from eight yards out.

However, they were soon caught short of numbers as Deveronvale missed an early opportunity to gain the advantage, Mike McKenzie had options aplenty as he drove into the heart of the home defence, he opted for Graeme Rodger to his right, but the midfielder disappointingly drifted inside before whizzing his effort over.

A similar scenario materialised just seconds later for the home side when PA Bruce – who could have possibly played his last game for the club after announcing he is to move to Australia - released Allan Hale in pockets of space but he could only pound his shot at James Blanchard who spread himself well.

Bryan Hay then came mightily close to breaking the deadlock after seeing his near-post header blocked on the line by Kyle Rae, before at the other end McKenzie’s quickly-taken free-kick caught the Fraserburgh defence half-sleeping, matching the run of Chris Blackhall who had drifted in behind his marker and firing a effort across the face of goal but there were no takers to divert the ball home.

The Princess Royal Park outfit got their noses in front just prior to the half-hour mark, Magnus Barclay’s excellent cross-field ball picked out Graeme Rodger who fired a right-footed attempt into the corner of the net from 20 yards, Paul Leask rooted to the spot.

Deveronvale could have extended that slender lead after being awarded a penalty kick – certainly not their only one of the game – when Kris Duncan looked to have been needlessly felled by Ryan Christie, surprisingly Mike McKenzie blazed his spot kick over the crossbar with Leask grounded.

Then, the real fun began. Fraserburgh, possibly buoyed by manager Kris Hunter’s half-time words came out the blocks flying at the start of the second half as Deveronvale seemed to disappear from the contest completely.

It only seemed a matter of time before The Broch brought themselves level, and they certainly did that through substitute Scott Barbour on 68 minutes.

Barbour, introduced to the fray less than ten minutes previously, was pushed into a more attacking role and it most definitely paid dividends, after a long period of pressure the ball was eventually folded into the feet of the 18-year old by Russell McBride, and he showed composure by slotting under James Blanchard in a crowded penalty area.

Barbour then looked to have single-handedly turned the game on its head little over 60 seconds later, only to be dubiously denied by the flag of the near-side linesman. A deep searching run from Allan Hale took him to the edge of the six-yard area before tapping the ball into the path of Barbour who looked to have timed his run perfectly and slid home, but the Bellslea faithful celebrations were cut short by the referee’s assistant, sparking a flurry of protests.

And it could have almost been a hat-trick for the youngster had his previous ‘goal’ counted, forcing a terrific diving save from Blanchard after rising highest between two defenders to head into the corner of the goal, but was denied by the Vale shotstopper.

As the chances continued to fall the home side’s way against a Deveronvale side which seemed so lacklustre in the second half, it looked like there was only going to be one outcome when Ryan Christie put Fraserburgh ahead with just eight minutes of regulation time remaining, with the downward header from Barbour’s corner kick at the back post.

This seemed to send Deveronvale into a state of shock and substitute Michele Lombardi could have evened things up once again almost immediately from the restart but stabbed wide from Craig Cowie’s cutback. Into injury time and tensions were nigh with penalty villan McKenzie saw his close-range effort blocked off the line by a collaboration of Fraserburgh defenders.

However the home side were dealt a sickening blow with only a few seconds remaining. Steven Main was penalised, somewhat harshly, for what had been perceived to be an unintentional handball offence inside the box.

A second penalty kick for the away side was awarded following a period of consultation between referee and linesman, and Mike McKenzie made amends for his first-half miss by doing what he intended to do the first time, and hitting high into the top-left corner with Leask going the wrong way.

But the drama was not over yet as Fraserburgh raced upfield in search of what would have been a sensational late winner, Allan Hale cutting inside and his attempted cross looked to have taken a deflection before ricocheting back off the frame of the goal and away from danger, as a fantastic advert for the Highland League came to a conclusion.