Forfar Athletic 4, Stranraer 0
Shaun Niven at Station Park
Station Park has not been a happy hunting ground for the Blues for many years and things have not changed.
This extremely disappointing performance resulted in a convincing home victory once again for the Loons.
The evidence was clear on Saturday for the Blues that standards need to be raised a notch and individual errors eradicated or the punishment will continue to come in the shape of results like this.
Forfar started brightly and created a half chance from an early corner that Ross Campbell headed over at the near post but Stranraer responded with an effort from Chris Aitken from long range that deflected off Steven Tulloch and caused no problems for Derek Soutar, who made a simple save.
It only took eight minutes for the Loons to break through and a simple move gave them the advantage. Mark McCulloch overlapped on the right and, having been given far too much time and space, he drove the ball across the face of goal where Gavin Swankie was waiting to apply the finishing touch.
The visitors earned a free kick on the edge of the box when Robert Love was upended but the strike from Aitken lacked power and presented Soutar with a routine save. Stranraer tried to keep the ball when in possession and although they did occasionally pass the ball around neatly, there was little cutting edge to their play.
Forfar continued to look a much more potent threat and when Swankie beat Mick Dunlop down their right, his cross was perfect for Keith Gibson who struck a venomous drive only to be denied by a wonderful save by David Mitchell. The Loons were looking the sharper outfit but to their credit Stranraer defended stoutly and limited their hosts to less than clear chances. Danny Denholm shot over from outside the box being the best chance created during this spell.
Stranraer were hampered towards the end of the first half when Michael Moore had to go off for some stitches in a head wound but held firm.
The second half brought hope that things could improve for the Blues and a threatening break was ended with an unceremonious foul on Ryan Borris by Ross Campbell but the free kick was wasted and Forfar gained possession to launch a counter-attack. Eventually a long throw in from McCulloch arrived in the Stranraer six-yard box. Three Stranraer defenders failed to clear and Danny Denholm seized the opportunity to sneak between them and poke the ball home.
If that was bad, two minutes later it got much worse. Stranraer half cleared anther Forfar attack only to see an innocuous long ball from McCulloch delivered back into the penalty area. Mitchell and Mark Staunton failed to communicate and with keeper stranded, the defender’s attempt to clear only succeeded in deflecting the ball into his own net.
Forfar sensed that there were opportunities available as the Blues descended into disarray and it took only a few minutes for a glorious chance to present itself for the home side. Ross Campbell found space and with the trigger pulled was felled by Grant Gallagher and a penalty was awarded. A somewhat casual Martyn Fotheringham stepped up to take it but gave Mitchell a chance to guess correctly and he dived full length to save.
With the game out of reach, new signing Max Wright, who had featured in pre-season, was introduced and his first contribution was to draw a foul just outside the Forfar box. Staunton stepped forward to strike this one and struck the ball beautifully but Soutar punched the ball away. Chris Templeman then should have scored when free at the back post but on this occasion his jump was mis-timed and he headed over the top.
Midway through the half, the stroll in the Angus sunshine was completed with a fourth goal that was the pick of the bunch. Fotheringham accepted the opportunity to atone for his penalty miss, picking up the ball 20 yards out and smashing an unstoppable drive into the top corner of the net.
Both sides then made their full complement of changes and it was the Stranraer substitutes who created the best chance of the half from open play. Wright made space and crossed for Adam Forde who unluckily saw his deft effort just go the wrong side of Soutar’s post.
There was no way back for Stranraer but to their credit they kept battling to try to take something from the game. Frustratingly, it wasn’t to be and the Loons put their first points on the board with an emphatic victory.
Bitterly disappointed Stranraer boss Keith Knox bemoaned, once again, the individual errors and lack of concentration that gave away soft goals. Hard work will be required this week to ensure the right reaction and better result in the next match.
Forfar Athletic: Derek Soutar, Mark McCulloch, Iain Campbell, Michael Bolochoweckyj, Steven Tulloch, Chris Templeman, Ross Campbell (Kevin Motion 72), Martyn Fotheringham, Gavin Swankie, Keith Gibson (Omar Kader 69), Danny Denholm (Charlie King 69).
Subs Not Used: Mike Dunlop, David Scott.
Booked: Templeman, R Campbell, Tulloch
Goals: Swankie 8, Denholm 50, Staunton 52og, Fotheringham 67
Stranraer: David Mitchell, Mark Staunton, Michael Dunlop, Robert Love, Frank McKeown, Chris Aitken, Sean Winter, Grant Gallagher, Michael Moore (Max Wright 60), Craig Malcolm (Adam Forde 65), Ryan Borris (Lloyd Kinnaird 69).
Subs Not Used: Dean Agnew, Russell Cadwell.
Referee: G Aitken