Blues close in on play-offs

Stranraer 2, East Fife 0

The Blues racked up another victory in their quest to secure a play-off spot and condemned struggling East Fife to their third defeat in three meetings this season.

Stranraer are now within touching distance of cementing a play-off berth. Indeed, catching Dunfermline seems to be more of a concern than worrying about their rivals beneath them.

Stephen Aitken’s men cruised to victory despite being a little below par but that scarcely mattered as the Fifers never looked as if they could stop the Blues bandwagon.

The game got off to a fairly sluggish start with East Fife enjoying a decent short spell but Stranraer were finally shaken into action.

Scott Rumsby won the ball in midfield and tracked towards goal before hitting a thunderous drive from 35 yards but the ball smacked the crossbar and flew over. Minutes later it was Rumsby again who had half a chance as a corner found him just a few yards out but he was unable to hit the target.

The best interplay came when Stephen Stirling, Sean Winter and David McKenna all combined but the latter was denied by a fine tackle by Steven Campbell.

The Fifers completely switched off at the resulting corner and Stranraer took the lead. Andy Stirling curled a lovely ball into the six-yard box for McKenna to calmly nod the ball past Paterson.

East Fife had to come out after the break with purpose and they did just that. Stranraer started slowly and presented the ball back to the Fifers. As they broke forward, Kevin Smith peeled off left into a good position and created an opening but hit the post.

Stranraer made their opponents pay for their missed chances and showed them how it is done, with just over an hour played. A loose ball came to Stephen Stirling on the edge of the box and after jinking around a couple of defenders he fired in a shot. Paterson was left stranded as a slight deflection offered him no chance of making a save.

East Fife were toiling and a goal never looked likely as the Blues’ defensive quartet reigned supreme. Stranraer restricted East Fife to a couple of half chances as the game drew to a close.

Manager Stephen Aitken admitted Stranraer had played better most of the season but this evening was one for working hard and rolling up the sleeves. He said that they had been rewarded for their efforts as another three points keeps them firmly in the play-off race. The Stranraer gaffer was now looking forward to giving the squad some rest before they prepare to take on Ayr United next Saturday.

Stranraer: David Mitchell, Scott Robertson, Mark Docherty, Scott Rumsby, Frank McKeown, Stephen Stirling (Lloyd Kinnaird 75), Sean Winter, Grant Gallagher, Jamie Longworth (Adam Forde 82), David McKenna (Martin Grehan 78), Andy Stirling. Subs not used: David MacGregor, Chris Fahey.

Booked: None

Goals: McKenna 35, S Stirling 61

East Fife: Greg Paterson, David Cowan, Scott Durie, Kevin Rutkiewicz, Joe Mbu, Steven Campbell (Craig Johnstone 39), Marc McKenzie, Stephen O’Neill, Liam Buchanan (Pat Clarke 87), Stephen Hughes, Kevin Smith (Nathan Austin 68). Booked: None

Attendance: 407

Referee: J McKendrick