It’s getting closer. Arbroath came within seconds of clinching the League One title with this narrow but hugely deserved victory over Angus rivals Montrose.
When the final whistle sounded at Gayfield, nearest challengers Raith Rovers were losing 1-0 at Stenhousemuir and Lichties fans were ready to celebrate.
But the champagne was put on ice for at least another week when news quickly came through of Liam Buchanan’s 93rd minute equaliser for the Kirkcaldy men at Ochilview.
Dick Campbell’s side now enjoy a 12-point lead at the top of the table with just 12 more to play for, so will travel to Brechin on Saturday aiming to complete the job.
Assistant manager Ian Campbell was delighted with the way his team bounced back from an indifferent spell which had yielded one win from the previous six games.
He said: “It was obviously a great result. Montrose have been doing well recently but I thought we were first class. We never gave them any opportunities at all.
“We missed a penalty and had five or six gilt-edged chances but I wouldn’t criticise our boys at all. They were terrific and I don’t think anyone can deny we deserved to win.
“We don’t really look at what other teams are doing. You have to do it yourselves. So, we will be working hard this week and we’ll go to Brechin and do what we have to do and hopefully get over the line.”
The Lichties, who were without top scorer Bobby Linn through injury, dominated from start to finish, the only surprise being that they didn’t win more convincingly.
Ricky Little made the breakthrough in the 64th minute when he rose above everyone to get on the end of a Michael McKenna ball to guide a header into the far corner for his third goal of the season.
Arbroath passed up a golden opportunity to make the game safe a few minutes later when Omar Kader was tripped in the box, but Ryan Wallace’s penalty was saved by Allan Fleming.
Little admitted that the previous weekend’s defeat at Forfar had galvanised his team-mates and made them more determined than ever to get a result.
He said: “It was always going to be hard and if we had lost it was going to get a bit nervy. But, we were excellent and should have won comfortably.
“The boys were fired up after the disappointment of losing at Forfar last week.
“There was a bit of anger in the dressing room after that and rightly so. Hopefully, we can go to Brechin now and do the business.”
Montrose boss Stewart Petrie conceded that, despite the narrow scoreline, his side was well beaten but he is pleased his side remains very much in the hunt for a play-off position.
He said “We were disappointing today. They are the best team in the league, so if you come here and aren’t at the top of your game you won’t win.
“We were never in it but as long as it’s 1-0 you have a chance.
“However, if we had taken anything from the game it would have been undeserved. I have no complaints.
“If at the start of the season anyone said we’d be one point off the play-offs with four games to go, I would have bitten their hand off.
“We go to East Fife next week and we are one point behind them.
“There are four tough games to go and we’ll give it a real good shot.”