Win for Peterhead as points deduction and loss sees Clyde drop out of League Two title race

Jack Leitch equalises.
Jack Leitch equalises.

Peterhead boss Jim McInally was delighted to see the leaders fight to victory against Annan Athletic as the battle for the League Two title became a two-horse race.

After Tony Wallace had fired Annan ahead from close range in the first half at Balmoor, Jack Leitch and Derek Lyle scored to give the Blue Toon a 2-1 win.

Earlier in the day, title rivals Clyde – who began seven points off McInally’s leaders – were hit with the hammer blow of a four-point deduction for fielding an ineligible player against Queen’s Park and Albion Rovers.

Clyde then lost 2-1 at Elgin, leaving them 14 points off the pace and Edinburgh City, who beat Queen’s Park 2-0, are now the only side who can stop the Blue Toon.

McInally had sympathy for Clyde, saying: “It’s not nice, but it’s one of those things which has happened to me a couple of times in my managerial career, at Peterhead and at East Stirlingshire, when we got kicked out of the Scottish Cup.

“I knew it would be tough for Clyde on Saturday mentally – it’s a hard enough game without being deflated.

“We just get on with it. Edinburgh are still a massive threat, we just need to keep doing what we’re doing.

“There’s eight games left and we know how many we need to win.”

Peterhead now have two weeks on the road, playing Berwick Rangers before a showdown with Edinburgh in the capital.

They should take confidence from their turnaround against “tough” Annan at blustery Balmoor.

McInally said: “It was terrible weather conditions again. I don’t think we quite knew what the wind was doing in the first half.

“But we didn’t start well the first 20 minutes and I thought Annan were far better.

“When they scored we improved and I thought second half, there’s not a lot in it, but we just edged it with balls in the box and half chances.

“As we said before the game to the boys, it was all about the result.

“I’ve been moaning about performances for weeks and they turned us over last time down there (3-0 in January).

“I think they’ll have a say between now and the end of the season, as Edinburgh are down there next week.”

Fourth-placed Annan did adapt to the conditions faster than the home side.

Within a minute, Christopher Johnston’s spinning low effort from 18 yards forced Greg Fleming to save to his left.

It wasn’t until a quarter of an hour later when Peterhead fired their first shot in anger, with Scott Brown working Aidan McAdam from the edge of the box.

Annan scored with 21 minutes played, Aidan Smith feeding Wallace in miles of space on the right, although he may have been offside.

Wallace’s initial effort was past Fleming but blocked on the line by centre-back Jason Brown.

However, the ball bounced straight back to the attacker to finish from close range.

The goal galvanised Peterhead, who equalised soon after – Shane Sutherland rolling the ball to Jack Leitch to hit a low shot.

McAdam got a hand to it, but couldn’t stop the 18-yard drive.

The Blue Toon were on top for the rest of the afternoon, but chances were hard to come by.

Sutherland and Leitch went close after the break, with Smith heading a good chance wide for Annan, before Lyle grabbed the winner.

Peterhead celebrate Lyle’s winner.

At a corner, Lyle saw an initial effort from Willie Gibson’s delivery from the left turned on to the bar.

However, the veteran lashed the ball into the net at the second attempt.