Neave bags a treble
Derby delight for Neave as he hits another hat-trick
Blairgowrie overcame Coupar Angus in a tough east Perthshire derby.
Played at breakneck pace on a heavy pitch, this was not a match for the purist or the faint-hearted. Coupar, with some good recent results, must have been optimistic, but it was Blair who opened the stronger.
An early Gary Axworthy free-kick was brilliantly-saved by Allardyce in the home goal, then crosses from Keir Reilly and Rudi Brown caused problems before Coupar took the lead in their first meaningful attack.
With 10 minutes gone, Alex Gibb broke through all too easily to score with a shot high into the Blair net.
The visitors responded swiftly when Matty Adam flicked on a long ball on to Darren Neave, who scored with a powerful low volley.
Coupar regained the lead after 24 minutes. A Gibb drive struck the Blair crossbar and rebounded to Euan McIlvenny who had the easiest of tasks to nod home the rebound from close range.
Neave again equalised immediately for Blair. A powerful James Simpson header was parried by Allardyce, but Blair’s in-form striker was on hand to steer the loose ball into an empty net.
Blairgowrie went ahead after 35 minutes after some good play by Mark Christison. The veteran was fouled in midfield, but the referee played advantage which allowed Christison to play a beautifully-flighted cross to Adam who steered home from 10 yards.
Adam had a couple of chances early in the second-half for Blair, but they had to wait until the 68th minute to extend their lead.
Brown was fouled at the edge of the Coupar penalty area and Neave took the free-kick smartly to earn his second successive hat-trick in as many games.
Coupar Angus protested and ‘keeper Allardyce was red-carded for his efforts.
Late on, Blair’s Danny Millar was caught in a collision and looked seriously injured. The visitors were also down to 10 men for a lengthy spell as all three substitutes had been used.
Thankfully, Millar returned for the final seconds as Coupar Angus fought to the end, striving for a lifeline that would have set up a dramatic finale.
Blairgowrie: O’Brien, Reilly, MacNaughton, Millar, Simpson, Brown, Axworthy, Plenderleith, Adam, Christison, Neave. Subs used: Findlay, Gray, Norrie.
This Saturday, Blairgowrie travel to Bridge of Don in Aberdeenshire to play Hermes FC of the North Region Superleague in the Scottish Cup. It’s a 2.30pm kick-off.
Hermes currently lie third in the league table and will clearly start as favourites.
Blairgowrie’s cause is not helped by an extremely lengthy injury and unavailability list. Danny Millar had to receive stitches in his face and doubts remain as to his availability on Saturday.
Meanwhile, this week’s Blairgowrie JFC berry-pickers’ weigh-in numbers were 12, 14, 16 and 18.
There were no winners, meaning the next available jackpot is £1150.
Treble Neave netted another hat-trick