Championship Play-Off Semi-Final 1st Leg
Forfar Athletic 3
Stranraer have it all to do this weekend after a poor performance at Station Park on Wednesday in the 1st leg saw Forfar eventually rack up a three goal advantage that few could argue they deserved.
The Loons turned in a performance that was as good as the Blues performance was bad and Stranraer would have been fortunate to have held on to the one goal deficit which would have put them in a better position for Saturday’s encounter at Stair Park.
Stranger things have happened and it is possible to reverse that result but it will take everything to click and probably some luck to avoid the season drawing to a close but should Stranraer be able to pull it off, it’s an occasion that would live long in the memory.
The match at Forfar is certainly one that the Blues fans who made the long trek will hope does not remain in the memory for any longer than it needs to.
An early corner saw Swankie volley the ball high over as the home side kept up the pressure. Stephen Stirling looked the most likely to unlock the home defence and he almost found his way free but denied by young left back Michael Kennedy pitched in for a debut and he had a fine match all told. It was one of a few occasional flashes from Stranraer but in keeping with the general flow of the first half in came to nothing.
In contrast, Forfar always seemed the more likely to break the deadlock. Swankie hit Jackson Longridge with a low drive, then Danny Denholm went down in the box rather easily under a challenge a great run by Denholm on the left brought a fine save from David Mitchell before Longridge blocked the follow up effort from Omar Kader.
Longridge combined on the left with Jamie Longworth to set up Stirling but his shot fizzed across the face of goal and would be the Blues best first half chance. Michael Travis shot straight at Mitchell before the Blues keeper made a great stop to kick away a Denholm chance and with the defence holding firm, Kader headed a Travis cross over the top and somehow the Blues made it to half time with the game in the balance.
The opening quarter hour after the interval was the visitors’ best spell and a succession of corners eventually saw Longworth force a good save from Rab Douglas who clawed it away and Frank McKeown could only stretch to stab the rebound wide under pressure.
Steven Bell had an ambitious long range effort at goal before Forfar finally responded. Kennedy delivered a ball for Swankie who rolled Rumsby and chipped Mitchell only to see the ball crash back off the crossbar. Swankie then had a shot straight at Mitchell before the deadlock was finally broken and it was that man Swankie who turned creator. His cross found Chris Templeman at the back post and although Mitchell made a fine save, Omar Kader was on hand to bundle the ball home from close range.
Gavin Swankie drove the ball home with the aid of a deflection to double the Loons lead. The disastrous evening for Stranraer was completed in the third minute of stoppage time when Kerr Hay smashed home his first senior goal.
A bitterly disappointed Stephen Aitken conceded that the better side had deservedly won the game as Stranraer had been second best.
Forfar Athletic: Robert Douglas, Michael Travis (Gavin Malin 88), Michael Kennedy, Stuart Malcolm, Darren Dods, Derek Young, Omar Kader (Kerr Hay 72), Martyn Fotheringham, Chris Templeman (Craig Smith 74), Gavin Swankie, Danny Denholm. Subs Not Used: James Dale, Cameron Clark, James Yates, Jason King.
Booked: Denholm, Dods, Travis, Malcolm
Goals: Kader 62, Swankie 87, Hay 90+3
Stranraer: David Mitchell, Craig Pettigrew, Jackson Longridge, Scott Rumsby, Frank McKeown (Jon McShane 75), Steven Bell, Sean Winter, Scott Robertson, Stephen Stirling (Craig Malcolm 68), Jamie Longworth (Danny Stoney 68), Willie Gibson. Subs Not Used: Barry Russell, Daniel Tobin
Booked: Robertson, Longridge
Referee: S Finnie