Match Preview: Albion Rovers

41 Albion Rovers WTOMORROW'S (Saturday) game is the most important match of the season so far, according to Stranraer boss Stevie Farrell.

A single point separates the Blues and their hosts, Albion Rovers, with just five games left this season.

Nothing will be decided in terms of final league placings at Cliftonhill but there is still very much a feeling that it is a big game.

Farrell said: "I've got a saying that the next game is the most important game because it is the next game.

"I say it day in and day out to the players.

"The next game is the most important game and we don't get carried away or look too far beyond the next game.

"It is Albion Rovers next and that is the most important game of the season because it is the next game we have got to play."
Faz 10
A positive result would be another step towards safety for Stranraer but it will be far from easy with the Coatbridge side enjoying a fine five-game unbeaten run.

That has moved them away from the bottom of the table and put ten points between themselves and tenth placed Stenhousemuir.

Scott Robertson, goalscorer a fortnight ago at Peterhead, returns from suspension and Farrell said having a strong, competitive squad was a nice problem to have.

He added: "Scott is back in contention but I have still got to decide if he comes back into the team."

Striker Calvin Kemp is also available for selection having shaken off the knock which saw him miss both the Peterhead and Stenhousemuir ties.

However, it looks unlikely that inspirational midfielder Willie Gibson will feature.
Livi 18 March 2017 004
The former Queen of the South man has been laid low by tonsillitis and has spent much of the week in bed.

The manager felt Gibson may be ready for the bench but even that looked on the doubtful side.

The Blues come into the game buoyed by an impressive performance against Stenhousemuir a week ago at Stair Park.

Scott Agnew, Ryan Thomson and Amadou Kassarate found the net while Cameron Belford was relatively untroubled at the other end.

Farrell was pleased with the result but singled out the defensive clean sheet for particular praise.

He said: "We came in and we changed the shape of the team.

"Some people say we don't play with two strikers and we don't do this and we don't do that.

"We have got to get the balance right and we were sitting bottom of the table and were sitting bottom of the league for a reason.

"You look at the goals against column and now that it is five clean sheets in ten games - one in every two games.

"Having that will give you the opportunity to stay in the league."
Albion 5 Feb 2017 010Head to head

ALBION Rovers were the visitors to Stair Park for Stevie Farrell's first home game in charge of Stranraer. The manager had returned to the club seven days earlier when the Blues picked up a point in a goalless draw at East Fife.

It was Craig Malcolm who got the first goal of the Farrell era when he showed a poacher's instinct to slide the ball home after Ross Stewart fumbled Scott Agnew's shot.

Scott Robertson cleared Theo Archibald's goalbound effort after the break but Stranraer finally settled the game with 12 minutes left. Again, Malcolm was in the right place at the right time as he smashed home from close range.

Finally, captain Steven Bell wrapped up all three points when Willie Gibson lured the goalkeeper from his goal before Bell turned home the cross from close range.

- 3-0 (Malcolm x2 and Bell) at Stair Park on 2/4/17
- 3-2 (Stewart and Wallace x2; Gibson and Nuttall) at Cliftonhill on 12/11/16
- 3-2 (C Thomson x2 and McGuigan; Stewart and Willis (P)) at Stair Park on 17/9/16
- 0-1 (Longworth) at Cliftonhill on 12/3/16
- 0-0 at Stair Park on 13/2/16
Stenny 1 April 2017 011
Stranraer's last five games

Stenhousemuir (H): 3-0 (Agnew, Thomson and Kassarate)
Peterhead (A): 2-2 (Malcolm and Robertson)
Livingston (H): 0-1
Queen's Park (H): 1-1 (Malcolm)
Airdrieonians (A): 1-2 (Malcolm and Thomson)

Albion Rovers's last five games

Queen's Park (H): 1-1 (Wallace)
Alloa Athletic (A): 1-1 (Willis)
East Fife (H): 1-0 (Wallace)
Stenhousemuir (A): 0-3 (Stewart x2 and McBride)
Peterhead (H): 0-0
Stenny 1 April 2017 019
Last time out

Stranraer lineup v Stenhousemuir: Belford, Pettigrew, Dick, Barron, Neill, Bell, Thomson, Agnew, Wilson (Donald 76), Gibson (McGuigan 67), Malcolm (Kassarate 67).
Not used: Morena, Turner, McGowan and Currie.

Albion Rovers lineup v Queen's Park: Stewart, Reid, McBride, Fisher (Gilmour 88), R Dunlop, M Dunlop, Ferry, Davidson, Wallace, Willis, T Archibald (Shields 80).
Not used: Turnbull, McCann, Ferguson, P Archibald and Potts.

Referee

The man in the middle is Grant Irvine, who has refereed two Stranraer matches this season.

The first of those came back in October when the Blues put five past Stenhousemuir at Ochilview. Willie Gibson, Kyle Turner and Christian Nade were all on target that day while Craig Malcolm grabbed a brace. He was also in charge at Alloa 12 days before Christmas when Stranraer led twice but only left with a point. Again, Gibson was on target that day, alongside Scott Agnew, but the Stranraer goals were cancelled out by Jordan Kirkpatrick in the first half and Greig Spence eight minutes from time.

Irvine has also refereed two Albion Rovers games, and the Coatbridge side are also undefeated when he has been involved. A 0-0 draw with Berwick Rangers back in July was followed up with a 2-2 draw away to Peterhead, with Ross Stewart's double helping cancel out Ryan Baptie and Rory McAllister's goals.

Coverage

As ever you can follow live updates of all the action from Cliftonhill on Twitter at @StranraerFC.
 

SPFL 3L1 6474

 Pos  Team  Pld   Pts 
1 Airdrieonians 0 0
2 Albion Rovers
0 0
3 Alloa Athletic 0 0
4 Arbroath 0 0
5 Ayr United 0 0
6 East Fife 0 0
7 Forfar Athletic 0 0
8 Queen's Park 0 0
9 Raith Rovers 0 0
10 STRANRAER 0 0

Fixtures

IN: Grant Anderson (MID, Peterhead), Jamie Hamill (DEF/MID, QOS), Tom Lang (DEF, Dumbarton), Paul Woods (MID/STR, EK), Morgyn Neill (DEF, Livingston), Ryan Wallace (STR, Livingston), Scott Robertson (DEF), David Barron (DEF), Ryan Thomson (MID), Max Currie (GK), Cameron Belford (GK), Steven Bell (MID), Kyle Turner (MID), Scott Agnew (MID)

OUT: Craig Malcolm (Alloa), Willie Gibson (Peterhead), Mark McGuigan (Stenhousemuir), Craig Pettigrew (Auchinleck), Sam McCloskey, Michael Donald, Giuliano Morena, David Wilson, Amadou Kassaraté


00 Stranraer FC 2015 Logo
3 Number Lotto
Sunday 25 June 2017

Numbers: 4, 5, 13

3 winners this week, each taking home £335:

G.Moir, Stranraer
Thomson, Stranraer
L.McGeoch, London Road, Stranraer