Stranraer 3, Dunfermline Athletic 1
Stranraer laid to rest a few scores on Saturday with a hard-earned and deserved victory.
The Blues broke an 18-match unbeaten run that Dunfermline had held over Stranraer that stretched back to August 1979. With a play-off tie against the Pars looking increasingly likely at the end of the season, it was a good time for the Blues to get that particular monkey off their back.
Stranraer got off to a great start and almost scored in the opening minute. Confusion in the Dunfermline defence allowed Martin Grehan to sneak past Callum Morris and he poked the ball past Ryan Scully but Morris recovered and booted it clear from the goal line.
The Pars’ shaky start got worse after just seven minutes and once again it was Morris the offender. Andy Stirling had made the initial break and found Grehan inside the box. The big defender manhandled him to the ground in front of the referee resulting in a penalty which the Blues striker took himself and smashed into the roof of the net.
Dunfermline rallied and enjoyed a good spell, with a number of attacks, but their defence failed to deal with another Stranraer foray and, against the run of play, the home side doubled their advantage.
Scott Rumsby delivered a free kick towards the penalty area and on this occasion it was Jonathan Page who failed to deal with the danger, heading the ball straight up in the air and in the direction of David McKenna, who composed himself and volleyed straight past Scully.
The visitors came out after the break with plenty of intent but they couldn’t do enough to threaten the Blues lead.
Mitchell, in particular, was peppered with a succession of crosses but he had adopted a positive approach and on several occasions he came for the ball and punched clear to relieve the pressure on the defence. The back four also looked very secure.
Andy Stirling embark on one of his trademark jinking runs but his shot went well wide. Mitchell was in action again as Shankland won a header and he acrobatically tipped the ball over the bar.
The Pars were disconsolate as Stranraer produced the move of the second half and hammered a clinical blow with a third goal.
Bell won the ball in midfield and found Docherty on the left. He moved it to Sean Winter and then he found Grehan ahead of him. His cross wasn’t cleared and it was picked up in the box by Gallagher who laid the ball off to McKenna who got between Page and Morris and hooked it past Scully.
Dunfermline wouldn’t give up and gained a consolation from the penalty spot after Andy Stirling had tripped Whittle. Danny Grainger made no mistake with the spot kick.
Jamie Longworth had the best chance of the last 10 minutes, stooping to head over as Stranraer ensured the victory and completed the set of having taken points from all their league opponents this season.
Stranraer manager Stephen Aitken recognised that it was a good result against a good side but admitted that Stranraer had played better against Rangers but came away with nothing. Clinical finishing had been the difference between the teams and the defending was immense, he said.
Stranraer: David Mitchell, Scott Robertson, Mark Docherty, Scott Rumsby, Frank McKeown, Steven Bell, Stephen Stirling (Sean Winter 62), Grant Gallagher, Martin Grehan, David McKenna (Jamie Longworth 75), Andy Stirling (Lloyd Kinnaird 82). Subs not used: David MacGregor, Ryan Borris, Adam Forde, Chris Fahey
Booked: S Stirling, Robertson
Goals: Grehan 7 Pen, McKenna 39, 72
Dunfermline Athletic: Ryan Scully, Ryan Williamson, Danny Grainger, Jonathan Page, Callum Morris, Andy Geggan, Faissal El Bakhtaoui (Ryan Thomson 68), Stephen Husband, Lawrence Shankland, Josh Falkingham (Alex Whittle 46), Ross Forbes. Subs not used: Allan Smith, Lewis Martin, Shaun Byrne, Ross Millen, Ryan Goodfellow.
Goals: Grainger 79 Pen
Referee: G Aitken