Ups and Downs: Part 1

East Fife 6 May 2017 016ANOTHER season has been consigned to the history books with plenty of ups and downs along the way.

The rollercoaster season took in plenty of highs but, inevitably, plenty of lows, with Stranraer winning 17, drawing eight and losing 20 of their 45 games since July last year.

Feel free to read this through your fingers as this week, we take a look at some of the lows. But don't worry, next week will take in some of the positives of the campaign.

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Livingston 5 (Pittman x2, Mullen and Buchanan x2) Stranraer 1 (Malcolm)
Tony Macaroni Arena - Scottish League One
6 August 2016

IT IS only natural that every team in the division wants to get off to a good start.

Bookies had tipped Livingston and Stranraer to do battle at the top of League One, and this was a chance for both sides to put down an early marker. Adding an extra spice was the fact Stranraer had defeated Livingston in the play-offs at the end of last season to relegate the West Lothian side from the Championship to League One.

However, from the off, Livi looked like redeeming themselves. The game was just five minutes old when Scott Pittman thumped home an unstoppable effort from 25 yards and the advantage was doubled midway through the half when Danny Mullen scored.
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Stranraer showed signs of a fightback after the break, with Craig Malcolm wriggling free to find space in the box and slot across Liam Kelly. The scores were almost level on the hour mark but Kelly produced a top drawer save to deny Kyle Turner.

From there, it was all Livi after Liam Buchanan scored from the spot and then added another four minutes from time. The icing was put on the cake in stoppage time when Pittman smashed home a second after Liam Watt had struck the bar with a header.

It was early doors, but this was an early indication as to where Livi would be come the end of the season and highlighted the gulf between the two teams.

Stranraer lineup: Belford, Robertson, Dick, Bell, McKeown, Agnew, Turner, McGuigan, Malcolm, Kemp (McCloskey 50), Nade (Morena 74).
Not used: Barbour and Currie.

DSC 0175Stranraer (Malcolm x2) 2 Alloa Athletic 5 (Spence x2, Flannigan, Kirkpatrick x2)
Stair Park - Scottish League One
13 August 2016

IF THE defeat on the opening day was a shock, then the manner of the defeat in the very next game was deeply disappointing.

The Blues knew they needed to bounce back from the result at the Tony Macaroni Arena. Brian Reid made four changes with Kyle Turner, Frank McKeown, Mark McGuigan and Calvin Kemp all dropping out.
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The manager got the perfect early response when Neil Parry could not hold on to Christian Nadé's shot and Craig Malcolm fired home.

That was as good as it got in the first half for the Blues though, who were thumped and finished the half trailing 5-1. Greig Spence put it through the legs of Belford from a tight angle before the goalkeeper's poor clearance was collected by Jim Goodwin. Belford managed to block Spence's effort but Iain Flannigan ensured Alloa were in front after 22 minutes by tucking home the rebound.

Six minutes later, two became three when Jordan Kirkpatrick fired home a long range effort and Spence grabbed a second when he got on the end of Calum Waters' low cross. Kirkpatrick then capitalised on some slack defending, with Malcolm's second half finish nowhere near enough to see Stranraer get back into the game.

Two weeks in a row, the Blues shipped five goals and already it was looking like a long season ahead, with Christian Nadé's injury late on only adding to their woes.

Stranraer: Belford, Barbour (Turner 78), Dick, Robertson, Bell, Agnew, C Thomson (McGuigan 78), R Thomson, Gibson, Malcolm, Nade (Kemp 85).
Not used: McKeown, McCloskey, Morena and Currie.
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Brechin City 2 (Love and McLennan) Stranraer 0
Glebe Park - Scottish League One
17 December 2016

THE game was given the go ahead after a pitch inspection at Glebe Park but perhaps Stranraer wished it had not been given the green light come full time as for a second year in a row, the Blues were soundly beaten in Brechin.

The home side were already a goal up through Ally Love before their goalkeeper Graeme Smith had to be replaced by Paddy O'Neil.

If the travelling fans were hoping this might give them a route back into the game they were soon disappointed. Sixty seconds after the change of goalkeeper, Brechin doubled their lead when on-loan striker Connor McLennan burst clear and slotted beyond Cameron Belford.

Stranraer tried to get back into the game but failed to truly test O'Neil, while Belford did well to keep the score at just two. Rounding off a miserable day, captain Steven Bell was shown a second yellow card with just over 20 minutes left to play.

Stranraer: Belford, Watt, Dick, Robertson, Bell, Agnew, Morena (McKeown 72), Turner, C Thomson (Malcolm 53), Gibson, Nuttall (McGuigan 54).
Not used: R Thomson and Currie.
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Stenhousemuir 1 (Millar) Stranraer 0
Ochilview - Scottish League One
January 14 2017

THE game that brought the curtain down on Brian Reid's time as Stranraer manager.

The Blues had looked like they were making tentative steps leading into the game after victory at Hampden on Hogmanay and they were desperately unlucky to lose 2-1 at home to Alloa seven days earlier. However, this tie at Ochilview, which sent the Blues bottom of the league proved a real low point of the season.

The manager was able to hand a debut to Morgyn Neill, while Craig Pettigrew was making his first appearance after returning to the club from Dumbarton and Jack Whittaker was on the bench having joined on loan from Kilmarnock.
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Despite those additions, the Blues were missing Willie Gibson through injury, while Craig Thomson's loan spell had ended and Mark McGuigan was only fit enough for the bench. Those absences meant Pettigrew on the right wing and striker Joe Nuttall on the left.

Things almost got off to the worst possible start when Colin McMenamin scored in the opening five minutes, only for the goal to be ruled out. Cameron Belford denied Willis Furtado and Oliver Shaw in the first half with Stranraer looking rocky at the back.

The breakthrough finally came with little over 20 minutes left when Kieran Millar drilled an unstoppable high shot past Belford from a tight angle. The visitors desperately tried to get something from the game in the closing stages but, in truth, it never looked like materialising.

Stranraer: Belford, Robertson, Dick, Barron, Neill, Pettigrew (Whittaker 70), Agnew, Wilson, Turner (Thomson 63), Nuttall (McGuigan 63), Malcolm.
Not used: Morena, Maley and Currie.
Albion 8 April 2017 006Albion Rovers 3 (Willis, Wallace and Neill OG) Stranraer 0
Cliftonhill - Scottish League One
April 8 2017

THEY say it's the hope that kills you.

Just when Stranraer fans could have been forgiven for dreaming of another shot at the promotion playoffs, Albion Rovers dealt a knockout blow.

The Blues were simply not at the races after an impressive run of performances under new manager Stevie Farrell. The visitors suffered a setback just before the half hour mark when Steven Bell injured his ankle and had to be replaced by Scott Robertson.
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The opening goal came barely five minutes later when a fine sweeping move was finished off by Paul Willis.

The visitors tried to get back into things with Robertson twice going close but the contest was killed off in the final 15 minutes. Ryan Wallace put the ball over the line after it come back off the post, and then Morgyn Neill turned a low cross into his net moments later.

The result came out of the blue with Farrell having rejuvenated the side since taking over at the end of January.

It did, however, serve as a timely reminder that avoiding relegation was still very much the first priority.

Stranraer: Belford, Pettigrew, Dick, Barron, Neill, Bell (Robertson 29), Agnew, Wilson (Kassarate 56), Donald (Gibson 65), Thomson, Malcolm.
Not used: Morena, Turner, McGuigan and Currie.


Check back next Sunday for five of the best matches from 2016/17.

betfred1

 Pos  Team  Pld   Pts 
1 Livingston 2 5
2 St Mirren
2 3
3 Airdrieonians 1 3
4 Partick Thistle 1 1
5 STRANRAER 2 0

Fixtures


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