Evening Express

Dunlop upbeat after debut for Peterhead in Irn-Bru Cup

Peterhead met Bohemians at Balmoor.

Mick Dunlop was relieved to finally make his Peterhead debut – even if it ended in defeat.

The Blue Toon were beaten 1-0 by League of Ireland side Bohemians in the second round of the Irn-Bru Challenge Cup.

Centre-back Dunlop came on as a sub with 16 minutes left at Balmoor to make his first appearance for the club since signing in the summer.

A toe and ankle ligament problem had kept him out of the side until Saturday and Dunlop said: “It was great to get on the pitch finally, it’s a relief after having the injury.

“But the club have been great with me, the gaffer, Davie Nicholls and everybody else.

“It’s great to get back and start contributing a wee bit. We’re disappointed to lose, but from a personal point of view it was good to get some time on the park.

“I was blowing a bit because the 20 minutes felt longer than 20 minutes because that’s the first time I’ve played since the end of last season.

“I’ve still got a bit to go, but it’s a start.

“It’s really frustrating when you’re not involved. Touch wood, I’ve never really been injured in my career.

“When you’re on the outside looking in, it’s frustrating.

“I did some training on my own on Wednesday at Forfar and me and the gaffer spoke and decided it was time to throw caution to the wind and give it a try.

“It was tiring but that’s to be expected because I’ve been out for four months, so it’s good to have made a step forward.”

Dunlop felt Peterhead were unfortunate to lose to Bohs on Saturday and added: “It was disappointing to lose because there wasn’t much between the teams.

“It was a good goal from their point of view and a good finish. I didn’t think we deserved to lose, but they won so all the best to them.

“We need to focus on the league because that’s everybody’s main priority. We’re still in a good position and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Bohs arrived from Dublin backed by a vocal support of 53, but there was little for either set of fans to shout about in the first half.

Eoghan Stokes’ hook shot was held by home goalie Greg Fleming, but the second period was livelier.

In the 49th minute Willie Gibson scampered on to Jamie Stevenson’s pass into the box and from the left side his stabbed strike was well saved by keeper Colin McCabe. Soon after, though, the hosts had a let-off as Ali Reghba robbed Gibson and played in Ryan Graydon on the right. His low cross was poked wide by Stokes at the back post.

On 63 minutes Bohs took the lead when Kevin Devaney fired a low left-foot shot into the bottom left corner from the edge of the box.

Six minutes later the Dublin team could have sealed victory when Daniel Byrne’s pass put Robbie McCourt through on goal. The midfielder went round Fleming but from the left of the area shot across the face of goal and wide.

In the closing stages Robert Cornwell’s challenge denied sub Russell McLean an equaliser.

In stoppage time it was so nearly 1-1 when Rory McAllister nodded down Gibson’s cross from the left and Jason Brown cracked a volley off the bar from 10 yards. Goalie Fleming was even sent forward for a late free-kick but it was to no avail for Peterhead.