Monday April 4 - Fintray Thistle 2 Torphins 2
Torphins started brightly in Inverurie and were unlucky not to break the deadlock after only 5 minutes. Allardyce crossed from the right and Brown’s diving header, beat the keeper but was denied by the post.
Gilbert was next to go close from another Allardyce cross. This time the winger crossed the ball deep and Gilbert rose well at the back post. He powered the header back across the goal, but the ball went narrowly wide.
New goalkeeper Cullen was not having much to do in the sticks but he was alert to come off his line quickly when needed. However, on 25 minutes, Cullen found himself beaten. A midfielder played the ball through to the Fintray winger who managed to beat the offside trap, round Cullen and tap the ball into the empty net.
On 30 minutes the Phins pulled level. A defender went to clear a ball in the box, but it came off the back of Brown, and swooped round to find the feet of Allardyce who slammed a right foot shot past the Fintray keeper.
The ever-sharp winger was unlucky not to double his tally shortly after. Gilbert played a ball over the top to the winger who hit a ferocious right foot volley from the edge of the box. The Fintray goalkeeper acrobatically dived to tip the ball round the post from the top right hand corner of the goal.
Torphins seemed to be missing their usual spark and the game was becoming scrappy at times.
Fintray had a promising attack midway through the second half but again Cullen was quick off his line to save at the striker’s feet.
On 70 minutes, Torphins managed to take the lead. Allardyce took a long throw in to Gilbert who controlled well on his knee and a smart overhead kick beat the Fintray goalkeeper.
Torphins should have been spurred on from the goal, but it was not to be. Five minutes later Fintray drew level. A midfielder picked up a loose ball in the middle of the park, and surged forward side stepping a couple of challenges and broke into the box. The Fintray player seemed to have the ball stuck to his feet, but Thomson came diving in from the back to bring the midfielder down and the referee had no option but to point to the spot. Thomson was fortunate only to receive a yellow card. The same Fintray midfielder sent Cullen the wrong way and powered the ball into the left hand side of the goal.
Phins made a change with Allardyce, who had run himself into the ground, replaced by Noble. The winger, in only his second appearance of the season, was involved almost immediately, but for all the wrong reasons.
A Geddes long throw in was met by Thomson whose header soared over the keeper. The ball seemed to be dropping in but Noble flew into make sure. However he managed to head over the bar from off the goal line.
Wednesday April 6 - Torphins 1 Alford 3
Torphins’ Wright, Johnstone and Michie returned for the first Deeside-Donside derby of the season, with Strachan missing through injury. A fixture that both sets of players have been looking forward to all season, but with both teams having played 3 games in the space of a week, both sides were a little stretched and tired.
The first half was probably the worst 45 minutes the Phins have played all season. Alford opened the scoring after only a few minutes. A ball over the top of the Phins defence was latched onto by striker Ferries who delicately lobbed Phins keeper Cullen to put the Donsiders one up.
Torphins heads dropped immediately and allowed Alford to bully them. Soon it was 2-0. A long throw by winger Mitchell was met by the head of Reid who beat Cullen and Allan at the near post.
The Phins picked up themselves up shortly after the goal and on 15 minutes they won a penalty. Gilbert rose well to head a Geddes free kick and Alford’s Goldie controlled the ball as it bounced awkwardly with his hand and the referee pointed to the spot. However Brown’s spot kick lacked conviction and was at a good height for keeper Taylor to save at his bottom right and Mitchell was quick to react to clear the ball for a corner.
Geddes and Travers both had long range efforts go wide, but it was Alford who were still well in control of this first half. Everything was coming through Reid whom the Phins defence struggled to deal with. A header from the Donside frontman on 30 minutes looked to extend Alford’s lead, but Cullen acrobatically got across to his left, to palm the ball off the line, and was applauded by both sets of fans by his efforts.
However, with all this pressure it was only a matter of time before Alford made it three. A Ferries ball through for Mitchell seemed to be dealt with by Phins’ Wright, but when the ball got stuck in his feet, Mitchell was quick to turn away with the ball and screw the shot into the bottom right corner.
Torphins came out in the second half fired up and began competing with their opposition. With long balls not at all effective in the first half, the Phins began playing the ball on the ground and soon they began carving out their own chances.
On 70 minutes a glimmer of hope came for the Deesiders. Geddes swung in a free kick from the left and Gilbert lost his marker to power a header past Taylor between the sticks. Geddes pulled up an injury and was replaced by Mitchell and the Phins reverted to a 3-4-3 formation.
On 80 minutes Allardyce lifted a ball through to Brown who tried his luck with a chip but Taylor was quick to react to punch the ball away from the goal.
Alford sat back in the last ten minutes as Torphins kept pushing and Brown had another drive cleared off the line by Alford’s right back Spence just before the full time whistle.
Saturday April 9 - Torphins 5 Northern United 0
Mathieson returned to the Torphins starting line-up but Gilbert was missing due to work commitments. The Deesiders returned to a 3-5-2 formation to face United who sat two places above Torphins in 3rd position.
Phins started brightly with Michie looking energetic and keen in getting forward to support his attacker and he had two efforts that went close to putting the Phins in front. Brown fed him through for the first chance but Michie’s low drive just outside the box hit the side netting.
Five minutes later Johnstone fed him down the line and a cross-cum-shot was difficult for the keeper to judge as he tipped the ball over the bar.
Phins’ defence looked solid and Cooper did not have to make a save in the first half but the half ended goalless.
This was definitely a game of two halves; the first half was really slow with not much excitement but the second half was full of excitement
The Phins won a corner shortly after the restart and Michie was the man to swing it in. Allardyce rose to knock on the ball with his head at the front post and Allan came running into fire from yards out. His shot was blocked but the ball fell kindly to Brown who slammed it home into an empty net.
The injured Allardyce and Geddes were replaced by Thomson and I.Cruickshank. Thomson was not on the park long before doubling the scoreline. Brown chased a Travers through ball and the forward and defender fell to the ground battling for the ball, but it was Brown who was up first to fire a ball into the box. Thomson found himself on acres of space with time to control and coolly slid the ball into the far side of the net with the outside of his boot.
Torphins were hungry for more and Michie was next to go close. The ball fell to him in the box and the captain turned swiftly to shoot. With the keeper rooted to the ground, Michie was unlucky to see his shot hit the outside of the post and go out for a goal kick.
On 70 minutes Cooper was called into action with the Torphins goalkeeper pulling off a string of fine saves. As United looked to find a way back in the game, they found themselves facing ten men. A United midfielder sprinted forward sliding past a few challenges before knocking the ball past Allan who completely took him out just over the halfway line. A professional foul by the defender and the referee controversially gave him a straight red card. Torphins complained that there were at least three players covering but the referee waved the appeal away and further added fuel to the fire by yellow carding Mathieson.
However this seemed to fire the Phins right up and United failed to make the extra man count when on 78 minutes Torphins made it 3-0. Johnstone took a throw-in to Brown who crossed the ball to Travers. With still a lot of work to do, the young midfielder beat his defender with a little fancy footwork and curled a shot past the keeper from 18 yards..
Johnstone, still in search for his first goal, was unlucky not to score from a corner. His header was cleared off the line by a defender after he beat the keeper brilliantly, but the winger had a big part in the Phins fourth.
Johnstone’s footwork saw him brush off a couple of challengers as he cut in from the left, before unleashing a powerful drive. The ball was hit straight at the keeper, but he could not hold it and the ball fell kindly to Thomson who made no mistake from 10 yards, sinking it into the top corner.
Brown was replaced by Daniel and the winger created the final goal. On 85 minutes I.Cruickshank sent Daniel flying down the right hand side. He beat one defender and crossed a dangerous ball into the box where Michie slid into toe poke the ball past the United goalkeeper and give the Phins a convincing 5-0 victory.