GLORIOUS sunshine was an unusual sight at Stair Park on Saturday as Stranraer’s promotion push remained on track with a comfortable win over East Stirlingshire.
Scottish Football League Division Three
East Stirlingshire 0
Stranraer kicked off attacking the Approach end with only one change from the side that had comprehensively defeated Berwick Rangers the previous Saturday, Craig Malcolm returning from suspension to partner Stuart McColm in attack.
As early as the second minute Shire showed why they have struggled this season, neat football by Johnston and Cawley created an opening in front of goal for Neill but his shot had neither power nor direction and the chance to get off to a flyer was wasted.
Stranraer settled well with Murphy playing in the central holding role breaking up East Stirlingshire’s rare sorties up-field.
Stranraer new boy Ryan Kennedy showed them all how it should be done in the 33rd minute when Murphy played it short to Agnew, his trademark whipped in-swinger was powerfully directed past the Shire stopper by the ex Shettleston man.
Blues fans had hardly digested their half-time refreshments when their favourites had doubled the advantage.
McColm twisted and turned to gain space for a cross on the right but settled for a corner kick which Agnew took. The ball evaded everyone in the middle and fell nicely for Sean Winter, who dispatched the ball into the roof of the net.
Stranraer introduced Captain Danny Mitchell for the injured Grant Gallagher and it was a painful introduction for the New Luce farmer as Ure saw yellow for his over zealous welcome. The second goal combined with the searing heat appeared to knock the stuffing out of the visitors with Stranraer playing the ball around at will, only Cawley’s 59th minute half-volley that narrowly flew over the bar showed any sign that the men from Falkirk would reduce the deficit.
Stranraer have looked rejuvenated over the past couple of weeks and with the injury list cleared and down to a more palatable one game a week the Blues are hitting form again just at the right time and if the momentum continues there is still the possibility that the Blues faithful will be watching second division football next season.
In a year that Stranraer’s strikers have taken most of the plaudits with clean sheets more common in a Skegness B&B, manager Keith Knox, obviously happy with the win and the shut out was quick to praise his defence on their performance.