It was third time lucky as this rearranged fourth round tie finally got the go ahead at Greenwood Academy, and it was the visitors who marched through to the next round in a breathless nine goal encounter. This very open match hung in the balance until the second half, as the goals piled up at both ends. Eventually though the side from Tayside turned the screw in the second half to book their fifth round place in style.
They seemed the fresher of the sides as the match kicked off, and were a goal up inside just three minutes, as Leo Booth headed home from a corner in his side’s first attacking foray. Arbroath had settled well on their lead, maintaining good possession as Irvine sought to recover their shape. When they did so, they were level on 15 minutes, courtesy of Matthew Gemmell’s strike.
It set the pattern for a frantic, end to end, encounter, with two pacey attacks finding plenty of space to exploit in behind the respective defences. The emphasis was on all-out attack at both ends, with Arbroath perhaps carrying more of the early edge. They continued to press in midfield and were rewarded as they retook the lead three minutes later as Josh Paterson swept home from inside the box.
Meadow were shaken and pushed deeper into their own half, with Nairn Beaton next to test Jamie Cree’s handling skills on 20 minutes. This time the home keeper got a good glove on the free kick shot to keep his side’s arrears at the solitary goal.
Arbroath by now had a good grip of the contest and were in the mood, beginning to dictate play in the middle and stretch the Irvine defence. They extended their lead on 25 minutes as a through ball found Lewis Hutton inside the box to dispatch past Cree.
The home side were frustrated by their sluggish start and needed some magic to try and spark a revival. Their brightest hopes looked to come through the attacking surges of Alex Kirkwood, and in a fine individual effort he had pegged Arbroath back just on the half hour, flicking the ball over advancing Aiden Smith to score into the empty net.
Five goals in the opening half hour of a relentless cup tie, and we were not done yet, as Arbroath re-established their two goal lead just a minute later. This time Hutton was quickest to latch on to a high ball, with the home defence in disarray. The forward had time to pick his spot and finish low past Cree for his second goal of this eventful tie.
Hutton’s pace and awareness up front had caused chaos in the home ranks, with Arbroath establishing a good platform through Beaton and Paterson in midfield. Captain Nairn MacDonald steadied things at the back to snuff out an Irvine attack increasingly reliant on the dribbling skills of Kirkwood.