It took a sterling effort to see-off a Brechin City side that put up a much stronger performance than they had done a fortnight earlier when they went down 4-0 at Ochilview in the Ramsden Cup, but, it was Gemmell’s wonderful hat-trick that eventually ensured ‘Muir maximum points.
The big front man bounced the match ball gleefully as he left the pitch before telling Heraldsport, “This was why I chose to come here, for moments like this.
“With performances like this we can win the league, or at the very least make the top three.”
“The Beast” as he has been christened by his dressing room mates, is no shrinking violet, but on the evidence so far this term, there is more than cockiness behind his assertions. The Warriors were simply irresistible, especially in a thrilling second period that saw the visitors level Gemmell’s first half opener before the big fellow stepped up to fire a brace of rip snorting free-kicks that tilted the ballance in the home team’s favour.
The Warriors dominated the first half and took the lead in the 20th minute when Gemmell first hit a crossfield pass to Sean Dickson on the left and when the wide man fired to the back post Gemmell brushed aside team-mates and defenders alike to dive and head into the net. “It was a great ball from Sean,” he said.
“Mind you, my pass to him started it off and there was no way I was going to let anybody else get on the end of it when the ball came in.” No false modesty here then and no need for it either. Already the centre is a fan’s favourite with his non-stop commitment and the no small matter of goals, this treble bringing the striker’s tally to five already this term.
Ochilview boss Martyn Corrigan has promised entertaining football and he kept to his word on this occasion, playing four strikers, Gemmell, Andy Rodgers, Stewart Kean and Darren Smith in a fluid four-four-two formation that kept the pressure on the visitors until the break.
‘Muir were hemmed in for a long spell of the second period and the visitors deservedly levelled in the 57th minute, Andy Jackson wriggling along the by-line before crashing behind Calum Reidford from a tight angle.
Corrigan responded by throwing on Iain Thomson and the substitution had the desired effect of shoring up the middle of the park, allowing ‘Muir to regain the ascendency with more of the ball.
Nevertheless, the match was evenly poised until the 71st minute when the Warriors went back in front. Stewart Kean played a short free-kick to Gemmell 25 yards out and it’s doubtful that visiting keeper Michael Andrews saw the ball as the ferocious effort screamed past him into the net.
Gemmell had earlier headed against the bar and saw a long distance kick whistle inches past and while the visitors twice hit woodwork the game was finally settled in time added on.
Craig Anderson won another free-kick 28 yards out and there was no argument as to who would take it. Gemmell crashed his drive with such power that even though Andrews got his finger to it, the ball ripped clean through to bulge the net.
“They didn’t line up their wall correctly for the first one,” Gemmell observed, “I knew where I was going to put it when I placed the ball.
“It’s just great to get all three points, because we want to win every game. We have won in the cup competitions so far and I don’t think we deserved to lose two points in the 1 – 1 draw at Ayr.
“We hammered them in the second half, but didn’t get the breaks, but otherwise we have made a good start to the campaign. It is a great dressing room in there and – no disrespect to my old team Albion Rovers – the quality of players we have are capable of beating anyone in the division – that’s why I’m here.”
Manager Corrigan was understandably delighted, “I thought that was a terrific performance,” he grinned, “John’s goals were something else, but I have every confidence in the lads in there and you could see why today.
“They are a great bunch who are prepared to work hard at training and practice the things we want to do during the week. There are no shirkers and everybody had to put in a shift today to get the result.”
Asked about his super sub decision to introduce Thomson, the boss said, “We were a bit under the cosh at the time and felt we needed to strengthen the middle. Fortunately it worked, but Iain is an excellent player and he did his job brilliantly.”