A DEFENSIVE reshuffle could be on the cards for Stranraer tomorrow (Saturday) as they look to break the 40 point barrier.
Stevie Farrell has stressed the importance of the points total in recent weeks, with the figure likely enough to keep the Blues in League One for another season.
However, if the club is to get three points against Albion Rovers, that will need to be done without four first team regulars.
David Barron is still battling to overcome a calf injury, which saw him forced off against Arbroath last month, while fellow defender Morgyn Neill will also watch from the sidelines due to suspension.
Cameron MacPherson, who slotted in at right back in the victory over Alloa last time out, is also absent, with a hamstring injury.
Completing the absent quartet is Angus Beith, who has also not featured since the 4-1 defeat to Arbroath.
The manager was firmly focused on tomorrow's visit of Brian Kerr's men and, hopefully, reaching 40 points.
He said: "We go into that game looking to get that win to get to 40 points and if we do that we will be delighted.
"I think if we do that we can start looking to the playoffs.
"When you get to 40 points you can stop looking behind you are and for the rest of the season you can focus on looking ahead.
"That is our aim tomorrow, to get to 40 points as quickly as we can."
The Coatbridge side come into the game just a point clear off Queen's Park at the bottom of the table.
However, Farrell was far from complacent and felt tomorrow's opponents were "in a false position".
He said the players were being warned about underestimating their opposition and urged them to treat them with respect.
Tomorrow's tie kicks off the start of three games in the space of a week for Stranraer.
Saturday is followed by a trip to Airdrie on Tuesday evening before Queen's Park make their way down the A77 next weekend.
Farrell was not looking to the games with the Diamonds or the Spiders though.
He said: "Tomorrow is the only game I am focused on.
"I know a lot of managers say that but the reality is we have got 27 games played and there are another nine games to go.
"The next one is the most important and then we will focus on game number 29 and so forth.
"People can look and say it is a big week but this group of players focus better on one game at a time.
"You start looking too far ahead and anything can happen."
This weekend's tie marks Stranraer's return to action after last weekend's game with Airdrie was wiped out by the winter weather.
No game did not mean a day off though, with the Stranraer squad spending two hours training.
Farrell, who took charge of his 50th tie last time out - a fact he was unaware of - was pleased with the team's work ethic and was looking forward to getting back to action tomorrow.
Albion Rovers 1-3 Stranraer
27 January 2018
ANGUS Beith's double ensured it was six points out of six at Cliftonhill for Stranraer.
The Blues came into the tie on the back of victory over Raith Rovers but were forced into a double change. Cameron Belford had departed the club, with Ryan Thomson serving a one-game suspension. That meant a chance for Scott Agnew, with Max Currie brought back from a loan spell with Cumbernauld Colts to begin a spell as first choice goalkeeper.
The shotstopper denied Scott McLaughlin before the Blues took the lead with just eight minutes on the clock. Paul Woods saw his effort blocked but Beith was in the right place to smash home.
Alan Reid levelled things early in the second half but Stranraer fought back to retake the lead and, ultimately, the points.
Scott Robertson might not be the most regular of goalscorers but the defender capitalised on some indecision to fire the ball home from 10 yards. Time was ticking away and the visitors wrapped it up with two minutes to go when Beith latched on to Kyle Turner's through ball and smashed home.
Albion Rovers: Wright, Reid, McLaughlin, MacDonald, Baur, Fisher, Holmes (McMullin 84), Shields, Higgins (Vitoria 84), Davidson, McLeish.
Not used: Lightbody, Gallagher, Watters and Potts.
Stranraer: Currie, Robertson, Neill, McGowan, Hamill, Woods (Lyon 72), Agnew, Turner, Beith, Dykes (Anderson 72), Okoh (Gray 89).
Not used: Barron, Scott, McKinlay and McLaren.
Last five meetings
- 1-3 (Reid; Beith x2 and Robertson) at Cliftonhill Stadium on January 27, 2018
- 2-2 (Wallace (Pen x2); Trouten x2 (Pen x1)) at Stair Park on December 17, 2017
- 0-4 (Agnew x3 (Pen x2) and Woods) at Cliftonhill Stadium on September 16, 2017
- 3-0 (Willis, Wallace and OG) at Cliftonhill Stadium on April 8, 2017
- 3-0 (Malcolm x2 and Bell) at Stair Park on February 4, 2017
Stranraer's last five games
WIN v Alloa Athletic (H): 1-0 (Lyon)
LOSS v Arbroath (H): 1-4 (MacPherson)
LOSS v Forfar Athletic (A): 5-1 (Woods)
LOSS v East Fife (H): 0-2
WIN v Albion Rovers (A): 1-3 (Beith x2 and Robertson)
Albion Rovers' last five games
LOSS v East Fife (A): 2-0
DRAW v Raith Rovers (H): 2-2 (Trouten x2 (Pen x1))
LOSS v Raith Rovers (A): 3-1 (Hopkins)
LOSS v Arbroath (A): 1-0
LOSS v St Johnstone (H): 0-4
Last time out
Stranraer lineup v Alloa Athletic: Currie, S Robertson, MacPherson, McGowan, Hamill, Hawkshaw (Woods 85), Turner, Lyon, Thomson, Dykes (Neill 88), Okoh (Anderson 74).
Not used: Agnew, Elliott, Gray and McLaren.
Albion Rovers lineup v East Fife: Wright, McLaughlin, McLeish (McMullin 78), Marr, Mbayo, Holmes, Fisher (Gallagher 34), Davidson, Higgins, Trouten, Vitoria (Hester 64).
Not used: Perry, Watters, Trialist and Potts.
The last time David Lowe was involved in a Stranraer game? It was the last time Stranraer played Albion Rovers, which was January this year.
His last trip to Stair Park came on November 4 last year when Queen's Park were the visitors to Dumfries and Galloway. The Blues scored three times on that occasion as well with Grant Anderson and Steven Bell scoring in the first half and Ryan Wallace adding number three towards the end.
The referee has taken charge of three games involving the Coatbridge side this season, with all taking place at Cliftonhill. We need to go back to April of last season for the last away game, which saw Brechin emerge 1-0 winners at Glebe Park, thanks to Paul McLean's goal early in the second half.
In Saturday's Beyond the Bandstand, featuring midfield maestro Kyle Turner on the cover:
- Chris Aitken discusses S Club 7, Britney Spears and Neil Diamond
- Rob Mason explores a very recent link between today's guests albion rovers and Sunderland
- Charlie Rigg looks at goals in 1998
- Scott Agnew sums up Stranraer's season so far
All that and more, available at the turnstiles for just £2.
Saturday's contest is one of only four home games between now and the end of the season, so please come out and cheer the Blues over the line.
Entry prices are as follows:
Adults £15, Concessions (65+) £10, Secondary £5, Primary FREE.
Information for away fans
Follow the action and share your reactions on Twitter at @StranraerFC.
Following Tuesday night's trip to Airdrie, we return to Stair Park again on Saturday 17 March to face Queen's Park.
Photos: Stranraer FC, Bill McCandlish.