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Stranraer U20s 3-2 Greenock Morton U20s
King George V Playing Fields, Renfrew
Wednesday 13 December 2017

Scorers: Stranraer - McLaughlin (13), Elliot (30), Gray (90); Morton - Easdale (1), Langan (26)

Stranraer U20s recorded a narrow 3-2 victory to complete the double over Morton in the young Blues' final league fixture of 2017.

Stuart Wild's side are now 2nd in SPFL Development League West - 4 points behind leaders Airdrie - but had goalkeeper Ryan McLaren to thank for matching training partner Cameron Belford’s shot stopping with three second half saves to set up a dramatic finale.


Stranraer started poorly and went behind in the very first minute after losing possession in midfield. Morton broke quickly, and a cut back from Ben Eardley was converted by Alexander Easdale from 8 yards.

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However the Blues responded positively, with wide men Kieran McLaughlin and Cameron Elliott posing a threat with their direct running and after 13 minutes this combination paid dividends.

Winger Elliott cut in from the left and unleashed a powerful drive which Morton keeper Kyle MacLean did well to parry, but only into the path of the onrushing McLaughlin who confidently converted into the corner.

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After 25 minutes, McLaughlin just missed out on converting at the back post after a great clearance from Lewis Strapp.

And just one minute later, the Blues were behind again as Easdale and then Reece Lyon combined to create an opening for Ruaridh Langan to fire Morton back in front, despite appeals for offside.

But the Greenock side's lead lasted only 4 minutes this time, as Elliott's goalbound volley from 20 yards was deflected past the stranded MacLean in the Morton goal.

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Elliott had a chance in the closing stages of the first half to put his team in front, when a defence splitting Fraser Burns pass put him one on one with keeper MacLean, but the shotstopper did well to force the Blues winger wide and the chance was lost.

On the hour mark Morton were pressing to go ahead for a third time, but Stranraer keeper McLaren came to the rescue - first, pushing a 25 yard free kick from Eardley wide, before tipping over a drive from Langan.

The young Blues responded as Ross McKenzie arrived on the end of a McLaughlin cross to crash a shot off the bar.

With the game raging end to end, McLaren again had to look sharp to stop a goalbound shot from Lyon.

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An incredible 15 minutes of non-stop action came to a head on 75 minutes when trialist McWaters found himself clean through, but only a fantastic stop from MacLean kept the scores level.

A minute later McLaren produced a Belford-esque double stop from Armour and Lyon as both sides sought the winner.

However, it would be Stranraer who secured the victory, in dramatic style.

With 90 minutes on the clock, defender David Gray made a 45 yard run to connect with an inch-perfect McLaughlin cross from the right.

The left back powered a header into the corner for what proved to be the winning goal.

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It was a fitting end to what was a terrific advert for football - with neither side deserving to lose - and a thoroughly entertaining game for the spectators.

Next up for Stranraer, a rearranged SFA Youth Cup 4th Round tie with Premiership side Motherwell on Sunday 17 December at New Tinto Park, Govan, with a 12noon kickoff.

Stranraer: McLaren, Simpson, O’Neill, Mitchell, Gray, Burns, McKinlay, McLaughlin, McKenzie, Elliott, Scott
Subs: Farrell, Stewart, McWaters

Morton: MacLean, Hynes, Docherty, Watt, Strapp, Langan, McManus, Lyon, Easdale, Eardley, Armour

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Photos: Gary Bradley

SPFL 3L1 6474

POS
TEAM PLD
PTS
1 Arbroath 10 24
2 Raith Rovers 10 20
3 East Fife 10 19
4 Airdrieonians 10 13
5 Brechin City 10 13
6 Stranraer 10 12
7 Forfar Athletic 10 12
8 Stenhousemuir 10
9
9 Dumbarton 10 8
10 Montrose 10 8


Fixtures

2018/19 Squad

1 - Max Currie (GK)
2 - Daniel Higgins (DEF)

3 - Chris McGowan (DEF)
4 - Andy McDonald (DEF)
5 - David Brownlie (DEF)
6 - Connor McManus (MID)
7 - Mark Lamont (MID)
8 - Kyle Turner (MID)
9 - Isaac Layne (STR)

10 - Luke Donnelly (STR)
11 - Grant Anderson (M/S)
12 - Ian Smith (MID)

13 - Lyle Avci (GK)
14 - Cameron Elliott (MID)
16 - Max Ashmore (MID)
17 - David Smith (D/M)
18 - Innes Cameron (STR)
19 - Ciaran Diver (STR)
20 - PJ Crossan (STR)

22 - Jamie Hamill (DEF)
23 - Adam Cummins (DEF)