With both teams free now, Aberdeen are making rapid progress with the Northern League fixtures, and they are regarded by many in and out of the Granite City as the most probable champions. The home fixture on Saturday was with Arbroath, and the fact that the seaside team are running Aberdeen hard for premier honours in the competition lent to the event more than usual interest. The weather was all that could be desired, and when Mr. Macarthur, Stirling, started the game there was a spectatorate numbering close on 4000. The teams were:-
Aberdeen: Macfarlane; Murray, Willox; Halkett, Strang, "Gowie" Robertson; Simpson, Ward, H Low, Henderson, Lennie.
Arbroath: Johnstone; Law, Ferguson; J. Petrie. R. Petrie, Gordon; Black, Proctor, Gray, Dorward, Crockatt.
The strong west wind with which the strangers played in the first half enabled them to clear the Aberdeen's initial invasion and turn the game into local territory, where a shot from the right cause Macfarlane some anxiety. Another invasion by Arbroath resultant and Dorward getting a good chance, but a cry of offside caused him to shoot carelessly. Pressing up in the teeth of the wind, Henry Low and his partner on the right manipulated the sphere very cleverly, but the tricky gusts of wind carried a cross from Simpson out of its line, and a goal kick resulted. Naturally the local defence had plenty to do, but they kept the lines in comparative safety, the first element of danger being introduced by proctor, who tried a long-range rocket shot, which Macfarlane caught on the swing and sent out. No sooner did the return touch ground, however, and Ferguson picked it up and sent in another lightning shot that almost penetrated to the net. The visitors had little more to do and kicked in McFarlane's direction and rely on opportunities offering themselves for shooting. The Aberdeen custodian handled cleverly at all times, and the local forwards put in some good work, carrying the siege of the Johnstone's end. With the sphere hovering in front of the opposition goal, Ward failed to get in, and when "Gowie" one Robertson attempted to net he lifted the sphere rather high. Arbroath strong line had plenty of exercise, and Murray and Willox could do nothing to prevent their long punts from getting at Macfarlane. Ward and Simpson were the means of bringing the home attack into shooting range on several locations, while Lennie and Henderson or either off colour or too well watched to effect anything dangerous. Nothing of special interest transpired apart from the long range venture of Arbroath, and even when a corner was awarded against the home lot and easy clearance was made. It was evident that Lennie was not to be allowed any rope, for no sooner did he moved in the direction of the ball and he had a couple of maroons in close attention upon him. A foul what little winger off, however, and a very questionable offside ruling robbed him of a great chance. Swinging mostly in McFarlane's direction, the game progressed a steady pace, but without anything of a sensational nature occurring. Occasional bursts were effected by Aberdeen, and was noticeable that the maroons back kicked out of play much more often bounded Willox and Murray. For a spell of Aberdeen attack, and some furious drives were averted by mere chance, but when Arbroath looked for relief from a behind kicked, Lennie stepped in on the margin, and crossed in front of the goal in such a position as to allow Ward to get his head on the leather. True to the mark sped the sphere, and a roar from the spectatorate announced that Aberdeen had drawn first blood. The advantage was not held for long, however. The visiting forwards swarmed the local defence, and when Murray failed to tackle Crockatt at goal mouth, the winger had no more to do that place the ball over the line.
It was auspicious for Aberdeen but they were able to start the second period on equal terms with their opponents, and when the ball was set a rolling it was apparent they would make good use of the wind. Henderson was the first to have a try, and a shot from his foot had to be tipped over the bar by Johnstone. The Arbroath defence were kept continually on the move, and the attacking forces had any amount of chances, but miserable shooting accounted for the score standing level. Rocket shots from far out troubled Johnstone, and a grounder from Henry Low almost brought Aberdeen the leading point. The sphere skimmed along the carpet at a terrific pace, and ran up the custodian's body in dangerous fashion, but falling into his grasp again, it was returned to safety. A slight falling away of the wind allowed the visitors to assume the aggressive, and at several stages of the game it seemed as if they were to claim the lead. Aberdeen's display was certainly disappointing, and the only efforts worthy of note came first from Simpson, who sent in a teaser from the wing, and then from Strang from well out. Simpson was again prominent for clever work, and a cross from his quarter caused a punching in front of Johnstone, when Low lost the pass, but Henderson, who was standing immediately behind, placed the sphere gently into the net. Henry Low had a stiff run with the backs, but his parting shot went wide of the mark, while Ward, a minute later, gave a similar performance. The game lay entirely in Arbroath Territory now are, and as chance after chance was thrown away by defective shooting there were many exclamations of disgust from the spectatorate. As time drew near, the Arbroath forwards, led by Gray, made desperate efforts to overwhelm the local defence, and while that did not retain their object, their work was certainly worthy of reward. It was really the first exhibition of science shown throughout the contest. The movement was full of combination, the passing clever and entirely beyond the local lot, and had this style of attack been adopted earlier in the game, but is more than probable that Aberdeen would've had to forego at least half of the points.
Drawings - gate, £65; stands, £10.
Source: Aberdeen Daily Journal, 23rd April 1903
NB This match was played on the same date as Aberdeen A were away to Lochee United in the same competition.