L33 Raith W

STEVIE Farrell has challenged his Stranraer side to match the performance they showed against Forfar when they head to Raith Rovers tomorrow (Saturday).

The Blues were 2-0 winners against Forfar last weekend and know three more points would likely strengthen their grip on a position in League One for next season.

Inconsistency has blighted Stranraer’s campaign with the Blues not able to record back to back wins in the league since April last year, when they defeated promotion-chasing Alloa Athletic and Ayr United.

The manager said: “I think the thing I have bemoaned all year is the lack of consistency.

“At times we are excellent, as we proved last week.

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“We can go and compete with the best and then at times we don’t look like the same team the week or a couple of weeks after.

“That is the inconsistency with us but in terms of the league I think this is the first league I can remember where every team has finished above 30 points.

“That shows you how competitive the league has been.

“We have got four or five points separating four or five teams at the bottom end of the table.”

Raith Rovers go into the game with an impressive home record and looking to, at the very least, keep second place.

Only East Fife and Arbroath have taken three points in the league this term at Stark’s Park.

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Farrell added: “They will still believe they can win the league because it is still mathematically possible.

“They will be up for it and they are sitting where they are sitting on merit.

“We know they have got a fantastic home record this season.

“They have only been beaten twice so we know it is going to be a difficult game.

“But, listen, we are looking forward to the game and are coming on the back of a performance last week, which gives us a lot of belief.”

Two draws and a 2-1 victory for Raith Rovers demonstrates quite how tight the three previous encounters have been between the Blues and Raith this term.

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Farrell felt his players were quick to raise their game when it came to facing those at the top of the table, with a draw against Arbroath last month highlighting just that.

The manager said: “I just think it is that mentality that I have spoken about all year.

“When you get players who look forward to the bigger games – your Raith, your Arbroath, your Forfar – you don’t really have to motivate this group of players for this sort of game.

“The thing we keep harping on about is it should not matter whether it is Raith Rovers, Brechin, Airdrie or Arbroath.

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“Every game has got to be the most important one because it is the next one.

“That is the wee bit they have still got to learn.

“They have got to take that consistent performance and build on it week upon week.

“Last week was excellent and that is the challenge: can we go and build on that against Raith Rovers again this week?”

Stranraer have been boosted by the news that David Brownlie is once again fully fit.

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The defender was named on the bench against Forfar Athletic last weekend, with Conor McManus slotting into central defence.

However, they are still missing long-term absentees Adam Cummins, Christopher McGowan and Ian Smith.

The trio have also been joined on the sidelines by Connor O’Keefe, who has a groin injury.

Farrell said: “I think he could be out for a few weeks.

“He has been struggling with it for a couple of weeks now and I don’t think it is settling down.”

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Raith Rovers have also reported several injuries ahead of this weekend’s game, although the Kirkcaldy side’s boss, John McGlynn, was keeping tight-lipped over any identities.

Farrell said: “The difference is I say who my injuries are and if you watch John’s interview he has not said who any of his injuries are.

“John is an old fox, I’ll wait until tomorrow and I see the team sheet to see who exactly is out.

“I’ve bought apples from John’s cart before.

“Let’s just wait and see – he was very vociferous in the number of injuries but very specific not to mention any of those players.”

Finally, the manager also offered his congratulations to the Stranraer Reserves, who clinched the South of Scotland League during the week.

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The Blues are still unbeaten in the league this year and Farrell praised them for the achievement.

He said: “I texted the guys in charge immediately on Thursday morning and passed on my congratulations.

“They were heartfelt congratulations because it is a fantastic achievement for the group of players, the coaching team and Allan Jenkins.

“It is excellent and it all bodes well for the club.”

Last meeting
Stranraer 2-2 Raith Rovers
2 March 2019

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A DISPUTED second half penalty helped Raith Rovers come from two goals down to rescue a point at Stair Park.

The Blues, who were missing Grant Anderson, Mark Lamont, Ian Smith, Chris McGowan, PJ Crossan and Andy McDonald, enjoyed an impressive first half. Despite those absences, Stranraer got their noses in front when David Smith teed up Kyle Turner for the opening goal. Robbie Thomson then denied Cameron Elliott his first senior goal but Stranraer doubled their advantage through Joao Victoria. The visitors pulled one back after the break when Craig McGuffie snuck in unmarked to half the lead. Then, the visitors scored from the penalty spot after Adam Cummins was judged to have blocked a Jamie Gullan shot with his hand. Kevin Nisbet stepped up and fired home from 12 yards to ensure it was a point each.

Stranraer: Currie, Brownlie, D Smith, Hamill, Cummins, McManus, Turner, McCann, Elliott (O’Keefe 73), Cameron, Victoria.
Not used: Baxter, McColm and Avci.

Raith Rovers: Thomson, Crane, Murray, McKay, Gillespie, Matthews, Barjonas, McGuffie (Flanagan 71), Dingwall, Nisbet, Gullan (Buchanan 69).
Not used: Davidson, Watson, Berry, Bowie and Lyness.

Last five meetings

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Stranraer 2 Raith Rovers 2 (Turner and Victoria; McGuffie and Nisbet (P)) at Stair Park on March 2, 2019
Raith Rovers 2 Stranraer 1 (Nisbet x2; Donnelly) at Stark’s Park on October 20, 2018
Stranraer 1 Raith Rovers 1 (Anderson; Buchanan) at Stair Park on August 4, 2018
Stranraer 0 Raith Rovers 3 (Murray, Buchanan and Vaughan) at Stair Park on April 21, 2018
Stranraer 1 Raith Rovers 0 (Beith) at Stair Park on January 20, 2018

Last five games

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WIN v Forfar Athletic (H): 2-1 (Victoria and McManus)
LOSS v Montrose (A): 3-1 (McDonald)
LOSS v Brechin (H): 0-2
DRAW v Arbroath (H): 0-0
WIN v Stenhousemuir (A): 0-1 (Cameron)

Raith Rovers

DRAW v Stenhousemuir (A): 1-1 (Buchanan)
WIN v East Fife (A): 1-2 (Davidson and Nisbet)
WIN v Dumbarton (H): 4-1 (Matthews, Buchanan and Nisbet x2)
LOSS v Forfar Athletic (A): 2-1 (Nisbet)
WIN v Airdrieonians (H): 1-0 (Gillespie)

Last time out

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Raith Rovers lineup v Stenhousemuir: Thomson (Lyness 70), Crane, Murray, McKay, Gillespie, Wedderburn, Flanagan, Barjonas, McGuffie (Matthews 65), Nisbet, Gullan (Buchanan 65).
Not used: Davidson, Watson, Bowie and Tait.

Stranraer lineup v Forfar Athletic: Currie, McDonald, D Smith, Hamill, McManus, Turner, McCann, Elliott (O’Keefe 89), Cameron, Lamont (Anderson 77), Victoria (Crossan 84).
Not used: Brownlie and Avci.

Steven Reid

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GOALS have certainly not been an issue in Stranraer games involving Steven Reid this season.

The referee has taken charge of two games involving the Blues, with the first against Clyde back in July. David Goodwillie and Martin McNiff had Clyde 3-0 up at the break, with Grant Anderson pulling a consolation back in the second half.

There were six goals and two red cards in the clash with East Fife in December. Aaron Dunsmore, Daryll Meggatt and Craig Watson seemed to have the hosts well on track for three points before Adam Cummins, Innes Cameron and Christopher McGowan levelled the scores. Goalscorers Meggatt and Cummins were sent off in the final ten minutes in an action-packed game.

Mr Reid was also at Bayview Stadium in July when he took charge of Raith Rovers v Cowdenbeath. Jordyn Sheerin scored a double on that occasion to give Cowdenbeath the win. You need to go back to August 2017 for his last visit to Stark’s Park and that saw the hosts win 3-0 against Brora Rangers, with Ross Callachan, Lewis Vaughan and Yaw Osei-Opoku finding the net.

Photos: Stranraer FC, Bill McCandlish
We now have delicious ice creams, chocolate, crisps, hot and cold drinks and more, all available from the snack shop in the Pavilion at Stair Park.

Opening hours are Monday to Saturday, 11am to 3pm from 8 to 22 April.

scooby snacks 5x

SPFL 3L1 6474

1 Raith Rovers 28 53
2 Falkirk 28 52
3 Airdrieonians 28 48
4 Montrose 28 47
5 East Fife 28 45
6 Dumbarton 28 38
7 Clyde 28 34
8 Peterhead 27 26
9 Forfar Athletic 28 24
10 Stranraer 27 16

2019/20 Squad

1 - Max Currie (GK)
2 - Scott Robertson (DEF)
3 - Jordan Allan (DEF)
4 - Adam Cummins (DEF)
5 - Lee Hamilton (DEF)
6 - Connor McManus (MID)
7 - James Hilton (MID/STR)
8 - Grant Gallagher (MID)
9 - Ryan Stevenson (STR)
10 - Denny Johnstone (STR)
11 - Joao Victoria (MID/STR)

12 - Carlo Pignatiello (DEF/MID)
14 - Cameron Elliott (MID/STR)
16 - Lewis McIntyre (DEF)
20 - Jordan Ross (MID)

21 - Dale Burgess (GK)
22 - Jamie Hamill (DEF/MID)
23 - Ryan Thomson (MID)
77 - Andy Stirling (MID)