Stranraer rue defensive lapses

Andy Stirling on the ball
Andy Stirling on the ball

Stranraer 2, Annan Athletic 3

Stranraer suffered another disappointment at Stair Park on Tuesday night as they crashed out of the Ramsdens Cup to League Two visitors from the other end of the region.

The Galabankies march into draw for the next round having recorded their first ever victory at the Blues’ home since they became a senior side.

Stranraer began the match brightly and looked set to dictate terms with a changed line-up as Andy Stirling made his first start. Along with Mark Corcoran and David McKenna, he looked impressive.

But the Blues they paid the price when the Annan strikers linked up and David Hopkirk played a ball behind Mark Docherty for Kenny McKay to run on to and he smashed it past David Mitchell.

The two strikers then combined again for the visitors. The usually dependable Frank McKeown gave the ball away cheaply to Hopkirk and he squared across goal for McKay to force home his and Annan’s second.

Eventually Stranraer clawed their way back thanks to a penalty kick awarded when Peter Bradley grappled with McKenna under the nose of the referee. Chris Aitken stepped forward and smashed the spot kick past Kenny Arthur.

The second period was largely dominated by the Blues both in possession and territory and they had good chances, though it looked as if the visitors might hold out. They couldn’t, however, and with six minutes left Arthur failed to hold a stinging Stirling shot that came through a ruck of players and Martin Grehan pounced to turn home the rebound.

But Stranraer’s delight lasted less than a minute. The visitors kicked off and found Hopkirk midway into the Stranraer half. He was given too much time and acres of space to move in on goal and then when Mitchell misjudged his shot from distance, a memorable night for Annan was assured.

Jim Chapman was extremely proud of his side’s efforts on the evening, singling out his goal-scoring forwards in particular who had been excellent on the night.

An unhappy Stephen Aitken rued the defensive lapses that had once again presented their opponents with easy goals and was left bemused that despite being the better side for long periods they had undone the good work with individual errors and lack of concentration at key moments.

Stranraer: David Mitchell, David MacGregor, Mark Docherty (Sean Winter 46), Scott Robertson, Frank McKeown, Chris Aitken, Andy Stirling, Grant Gallagher, David McKenna, Jamie Longworth, Mark Corcoran (Martin Grehan 46). Subs not used: Lloyd Kinnaird, Kieren Wood, Chris Fahey

Booked: Robertson

Goals: Aitken 41 (pen), Grehan 84

Annan Athletic: Kenny Arthur, Iain Chisholm (Keiran Brannan 46), Peter Bradley, Steven Black, Peter Watson, Steven Sloan, Kenny McKay, Matthew Flynn (Steven Swinglehurst 65), Peter Weatherson, David Hopkirk, Ally Love (Scott Davidson 78). Subs not used: Jordan Moffat, Alex Mitchell.

Booked: Bradley, Love

Goals: McKay 19, 36, Hopkirk 85

Attendance: 290

Referee: S O’Reilly