Stranraer’s unbeaten run ends

Dunfermline Athletic 3, Stranraer 2

Stranraer hadn’t been beaten since losing to Dunfermline Athletic at the end of October and it was the same opposition who ended the Blues terrific 11-game unbeaten run with a victory by the odd goal in five at East End Park.

The result means the Fifers remain the only side that the Blues have yet to take a point from this season.

But Stranraer have the chance to bounce back against East Fife this weekend and return to to winning ways.

The Pars began very brightly and dominated the opening exchanges. In the fourth minute that dominance was rewarded with a penalty when Scott Rumsby felled Ryan Wallace as he charged into the box. Wallace dusted himself down but his poor spot kick was saved by David Mitchell.

Stranraer’s first chance fell to Jamie Longworth as he latched on to a header from Steven Bell but as he tried to round Ryan Scully, the keeper did well to pinch the ball off his toe.

This gave Stranraer some confidence and Longworth combined with Martin Grehan and Grant Gallagher in a neat move that eventually forced the Blues first corner of the game. The home crowd were stunned as the Blues capitalised on some slack marking and Andy Stirling’s inch-perfect delivery was nodded into the net by Steven Bell to break the deadlock.

Dunfermline forced a corner when Rumsby blocked a shot from Josh Falkingham and then McKeown denied Faissal El Bakhtaoui. Stranraer hadn’t learned the lessons and Ryan Thomson won a challenge with Mitchell at the near post and headed the ball home for the equaliser just after the half-hour.

A quiet opening to the second period was ended after six minutes when Stranraer regained the lead. Sean Winter was fouled near the right touchline and Stirling took the resulting free kick. He swung in a tantalising cross and Frank McKeown rose unchallenged to head back across Scully and into the net.

Six minutes after that, the Pars equalised again. Ryan Williamson crossed from the right and as Bell and McKeown left the cross for each other, Geggan headed into the path of Shaun Byrne, who knocked the ball home.

Dunfermline had the momentum and brought on debutant striker Lawrence Shankland in a three-pronged attack.

Dunfermline turned their pressure into a winner with 14 minutes remaining. A clearance fell to Falkingham, who lashed the ball through a crowded goalmouth. Mitchell couldn’t hold the ball and Shankland was quickest to react and steered home the rebound.

Stranraer had been hoping to re-sign Stephen Stirling following his release by Morton and he made a late appearance as a trialist but he couldn’t influence the result in his cameo.

Five minutes from time a foul by Bell on El Bakhtaoui saw the Blues midfielder booked for his role in the melee that provoked the Pars youngster into a retaliatory stamp on the former East End Park favourite and the inevitable sending off followed. This gave Stranraer the chance to launch a barrage of long balls at the extended forward line, now bolstered by McKeown but without creating any real clear chances the home side held on for victory.

Stephen Aitken was disappointed to see the good run ended as the Blues had contributed to their own demise with a couple of goals conceded where the defending could have been better but, he said, a defeat was always going to happen and the important thing is to bounce back from that quickly.

Dunfermline boss Jim Jefferies was delighted with his young side’s attacking play and took many positives from the game while also reflecting his own disappointment at the defending for the Stranraer goals.

Dunfermline Athletic: Ryan Scully, Ryan Williamson, Ross Drummond, Lewis Martin, Kerr Young, Andy Geggan, Shaun Byrne, Faissal El Bakhtaoui, Ryan Wallace (Stephen Husband, 80), Josh Falkingham, Ryan Thomson (Lawrence Shankland, 63).

Booked: None

Sent Off: El Bakhtaoui

Goals: Thomson 34, Byrne 57, Shankland 76

Stranraer: David Mitchell, Scott Robertson, Mark Docherty, Scott Rumsby, Frank McKeown, Steven Bell, Sean Winter, Grant Gallagher (Stephen Stirling, 80), Martin Grehan (David McKenna, 71), Jamie Longworth, Andy Stirling. Subs not used: David MacGregor, Lloyd Kinnaird, Ryan Borris, Chris Fahey

Booked: Gallagher, Bell, S Stirling, McKeown

Goals: Bell 16, McKeown 51

Attendance: 2952

Referee: A Muir