Faz Five wide

VICTORY against Brechin City marked 100 games in charge of Stranraer for Stevie Farrell.

The Stranraer boss, who played for the Blues in the mid-1990s and also had a spell as assistant to Stevie Aitken, took charge at the end of January 2017. In his first few months, he guided Stranraer to safety before almost securing a promotion play-off last term.

The 3-0 win over Brechin was enough to secure League One football for another campaign.

To celebrate the manager's century of games at the wheel, we take a look at five different little details from Farrell’s reign so far.

1) First game
East Fife 0-0 Stranraer

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ONE win in eight games was not the best of form for Stranraer, who welcomed Stevie Farrell back to the club in January 2017.

The Blues were bottom of the table when Farrell following Brian Reid’s departure, with Stenhousemuir one point above and Peterhead four further clear.

The new boss, assisted by Chris Aitken, made one change to the line-up that had lost to Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup the week earlier, with Craig Pettigrew recalled and Mark McGuigan dropping to the bench. There was also a new face among the substitutes, with trialist Michael Donald making the move from Ayr United.

michael donald

It was a disciplined performance, with the Blues determined to be hard to beat. Pettigrew played at right back, with David Barron, Morgyn Neill and Liam Dick completing the back four.

Captain Steven Bell and Scott Robertson were protecting the defence, but Stranraer also created chances at the other end. Willie Gibson and Scott Agnew came close in the first half before Dick and Bell came close after the break.

The closest the Blues came to a winner was in stoppage time, when Pettigrew’s cross caught out Ryan Goodfellow but dropped onto the crossbar.

Stranraer: Belford, Robertson, Dick, Barron, Neill, Pettigrew, Bell, Agnew, Thomson (Trialist 68), Gibson, Malcolm (McGuigan 68).
Not used: Maley, Morena, Wilson, Turner and Currie.

2) Best record
Forfar Athletic

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FARRELL has taken points from 15 teams in his 100 games in charge.

The team the Stranraer boss has the best record against is Forfar Athletic, with 14 points picked up.

The two sides have met each other eight times during Farrell’s time in the Stair Park hot seat. The first meeting came in September 2017 when substitute Danny Stoney scored a late, late goal to rescue a point at Station Park after Josh Peters broke the deadlock.

However, the Blues were in more impressive form in the December when they won 3-0 at Stair Park.

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The scores were blank at the break, although Jamie Hamill did miss a first half penalty. It looked like being one of those days for the Blues when Grant Anderson had a goal chopped off but that simply sparked Stranraer into life. Ryan Wallace won and scored a penalty before Angus Beith’s quickfire double wrapped up the win.

Three more points were toasted at Stair Park at the end of March with two goals in the first half. Scott Agnew opened the scoring after just three minutes and Ross Lyon, who had been due to start on the bench but for an injury to Cameron MacPherson in the warm-up, got number two when his deflected effort beat Marc McCallum.

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The match was also notable for goalkeeping coach Eric Phillips being named on the bench as a trialist – surely one of the oldest players to be listed in a Stranraer squad in recent years.

A goalless draw at Station Park at the beginning of this season was followed by a 2-1 win at Stair Park at the beginning of December. Luke Donnelly opened the scoring after a clever turn and shot before Connor McManus coolly slotted home his first for the club from the edge of the box after a Donnelly cut back. John Baird’s penalty ten minutes from time ultimately was nothing more than a consolation.

Finally, the most recent three points came earlier this month with another 2-1 win.

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Joao Victoria scored after less than a minute after Innes Cameron’s low cross before Gary Irvine levelled things midway through the first half. However, that man McManus was on hand to score his second goal for the club – and therefore second against Forfar – on 71 minutes to wrap up the win.

3) Players used

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SIXTY-EIGHT players have been named in Stranraer’s matchday squad since Farrell returned to the club.

Fifty four of those players have taken to the field, making anywhere between one and 89 appearances for the Blues. On top of that, 14 players have been unused substitutes during the course of Farrell’s time in charge. We have listed each of the players below.

Used: Cameron Belford, Scott Robertson, Liam Dick, David Barron, Morgyn Neill, Craig Pettigrew, Steven Bell, Scott Agnew, Ryan Thomson, Willie Gibson, Michael Donald, Mark McGuigan, David Wilson, Kyle Turner, Amadou Kassarate, Calvin Kemp, Chris McGowan, Tom Lang, Jamie Hamill, Grant Anderson, Ryan Wallace, Paul Woods, Stephen Okoh, Danny Stoney, Max Currie, Tony Wallace, Cameron Elliott, Angus Beith, Ross Lyon, Dylan Dykes, Dean Hawkshaw, Cameron MacPherson, Gavin Scott, Jonny Baxter, Andy McDonald, David Smith, Connor McManus, Luke Donnelly, Mark Lamont, Isaac Layne, Sam Lidington, Max Ashmore, Lyle Avci, David Brownlie, Ian Smith, Adam Cummins, Ciaran Diver, Daniel Higgins, Innes Cameron, PJ Crossan, Conor O’Keefe, Joao Victoria, Alistair McCann and Alistair McColm.

Not used: Evan Maley, Giuliano Morena, Caldwell, Fraser Burns, Kieran McLaughlin, Ryan McLaren, Zack Simpson, Jai Holland, Hamish McKinlay, Eric Phillips, David Gray, Euan Brown, Ross Lundy and Robbie Murray.

4) Appearances and goals
Kyle Turner and Grant Anderson

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PERHAPS unsurprisingly, Kyle Turner is the man to have pulled on a Stranraer strip the most under Stevie Farrell.

The midfielder is one of just three players – alongside Max Currie and Christopher McGowan – to have been at the club for the entirety of Farrell’s two-and-a-half years.

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Turner was an unused substitute in Farrell’s first game in charge at Bayview Stadium but would come off the bench in the manager’s first home game against Albion Rovers seven days later. Since then, Turner has made 88 further appearances, with 14 of those coming from the bench.

Two men share the honour for the most goals, with Turner sharing the crown with Grant Anderson. Both men have notched up 15 goals during that time.

Kyle’s first goal for Stranraer came before Anderson or even Farrell arrived at the club, in a 4-0 win over Airdrie on 2 April 2016.

Kyle debut goal v Airdrie

Four goals in 2016/17 and six goals last season have been followed by another eight this term. Meanwhile, Anderson bagged eight in first season with the Blues, including doubles against Airdrie and East Fife. A further seven goals this campaign have taken his tally to 15.

5) Biggest win
Albion Rovers 0-4 Stranraer

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SCOTT Agnew’s first career hat-trick helped Stranraer to all three points at Cliftonhill.

Last season’s tie saw Stevie Farrell make one change, with Steven Bell coming in for the suspended Scott Robertson.

Agnew got the ball rolling with 11 minutes on the clock when he rounded off a fine team move and lobbed goalkeeper Graham Bowman.

The visitors would not have to wait long for their second either. Ryan Wallace used some fine footwork to beat Albion Rovers’ Ross Davidson but was brought down in the box. Agnew fired straight down the middle to double Stranraer’s advantage.

There was time for one more before half time and it would come from another fine team move. This time, Paul Woods was the man to add the finishing touch when he slotted into the bottom left corner for his first goal for the club.

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The score would remain at 3-0 until late in the game when Stranraer were given a second spot kick. Substitute Stephen Okoh was brought down by Jason Marr, who was shown a straight red card. Agnew beat Bowman, just, from 12 yards, with the ball squirming through the hands of the home goalkeeper.

Stranraer: Belford, Dick, Barron, Neill, Hamill, Woods (Turner 84), Bell, Agnew (Stoney 85), Anderson (Okoh 76), Thomson, Wallace.
Not used: Lang, McGowan, Trialist and Currie.

Photos: Stranraer FC, Bill McCandlish

SPFL 3L1 6474

1 Raith Rovers 7 15
2 East Fife 7 15
3 Falkirk 7 14
4 Forfar Athletic 7 10
5 Airdrieonians 7 10
6 Dumbarton 7 10
7 Clyde 7 9
8 Peterhead 7 9
9 Stranraer 7 4
10 Montrose 7 1


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)
8 - Grant Gallagher (MID)
9 - Mark Stewart (STR)
10 - Leon Murphy (MID)
11 - Ian Smith (MID)
12 - Carlo Pignatiello (MID)
14 - Cameron Elliott (STR)
15 - Robert Jones (STR)

17 - David Smith (DEF)
18 - David Dangana (STR)
21 - Dale Burgess (GK)
22 - Jamie Hamill (DEF)
23 - Ryan Thomson (MID)
77 - Andy Stirling (MID)