Stranraer 2, Albion Rovers 0
Shaun Niven at Stair Park
This game ended in dramatic fashion with Michael Moore scoring a crucial injury-time second goal to put Keith Knox’s men in control of the Division 2 play-off final.
Rovers are now facing relegation unless they can overcome the deficit in the return match on Sunday at Coatbridge.
A frenetic and ill-tempered first half was almost set alight by Craig Malcolm, who latched on to a Steven Noble ball from the left but saw his snapshot deflected wide with Derek Gaston beaten. At the other end, David Mitchell beat away a John Gemmell effort after he had been played through on goal.
Stephen Stirling missed a good chance from just outside the box after fine work by Grant Gallagher and Gaston made a fine save, turning a Martin Grehan effort over the bar. It looked like deadlock would remain until Stranraer took the lead from the resulting corner. Rovers failed to clear and the ball ricocheted off Sean Winter and Craig Malcolm towards the far post to Frank McKeown, who blasted the ball home to give the Blues a deserved lead.
The second half saw Robert Love introduced and he made an impact almost immediately, just failing with a couple of difficult chances before hitting the bar with a third.
Stranraer responded by dominating possession and territory but found the Rovers rearguard stubborn. The Blues continued to show patience and probed with Winter fluffing the best of their chances when he should have turned a Gallagher cross into the net. Just as the game looked to be headed to a single goal win came Moore’s late strike. A corner was half cleared to Gallagher who turned the ball back in and, although Gaston touched the ball away off the bar, Moore drilled home at the far post to spark wild celebrations from the Stair Park faithful.
Paul Martin felt his side had played reasonably well and the final score was a bit harsh on his team who would give everything in the return leg just as they had done last week in their semi-final. Keith Knox thought it was another professional performance with Stranraer dominating for long periods and they got what they deserved in the end.
Stranraer: David Mitchell, Scott Taggart, Steven Noble, David MacGregor, Frank McKeown, Chris Aitken, Sean Winter, Stephen Stirling, Craig Malcolm, Martin Grehan (Michael Moore 80), Grant Gallagher. Subs: Stuart McColm, Zakaria Belkouche, John Kane, Ryan Marshall.