Boxing Day preview

Boxing Day preview

  • Post published:25 December 2021

Three points would be a very welcome belated Christmas present for Ross Smith and Stranraer.

They head for Cliftonhill on Boxing Day looking to bounce back from a defeat to Kelty Hearts.

Victory for the visitors would be enough to see them finish the first half of the campaign in the play-off places.

The teenager is one of those looking to ensure the Blues avoid back-to-back defeats and instead make it one loss in five.

Smith said: “It is a massive game for us on Boxing Day up at Albion.

“I am pretty sure the boys will bounce back really quickly because we are a good team.

“We can go and beat anybody on our day so it is really important that we go and get three points.

Smith was surprised to see the Blues drop points on Saturday

“The aim for us is to be in the play-offs.

“We want to be up there, we want to be in the play-offs because we are capable of being in there.”

Stranraer come into the game after a disappointing result against the runaway league leaders.

Last weekend’s visitors to Stair Park ran out comfortable 4-0 winners.

Smith and Joe Moore came on at half time in the contest as the home side attempted to overturn a 3-0 deficit.

The midfielder said: “I was quite surprised the way we played on Saturday.

“On the back of three good results, I thought we were doing good.

“We were all flying coming into the game.”

Smith followed in the footsteps of a number of players when he made the temporary switch from Kilmarnock to Stranraer.

The youngster is one of a number of players in recent years to make a loan move from Rugby Park to Stair Park

Innes Cameron and Jack Whittaker have both made the move in recent seasons while Curtis Lyle joined earlier this campaign.

Smith had already made his senior debut before making the trip down the A77 from Rugby Park.

That came against Dunfermline last season in a game which also featured two current Stranraer players – Josh Rennie and Craig Ross.

It is no wonder that the 18-year-old has settled in well in his new changing room.

He said: “I know quite a few of the boys.

“I know Josh, Craig and Josh Walker, who were all at Kilmarnock when I was there.

“I just wanted to come down here and I knew would be comfortable coming down here because I knew a lot of the people.”

Last meeting

Stranraer 1 Albion Rovers 0

Paul Woods fired Stranraer to victory over Rovers back in October

At the beginning of October, Stranraer bounced back from a defeat to Kelty Hearts with victory over Albion Rovers.

The Blues had lost 1-0 to the league leaders but reversed that scoreline when Brian Reid’s side came to Stair Park. The only goal of the came from Paul Woods, who rounded goalkeeper Cameron Binnie before firing high into the net from a tight angle.

Stranraer: Scullion, Robertson, Burns, Sonkur, Ross, Brady (Moore 76), Gallagher, Woods (Walker 76), Smith (Langan 64), Watson (Irving 64), Yates (Muir 81).
Not used: Ellis, Rennie, Trialist.

Albion Rovers: Binnie, Lynas, El-Zubaidi (Roberts 70), McGowan, Fagan, McKernon, C Wilson, D Wilson, Trialist (L Wilson 60), Leslie (Mullen 60), Doherty (O’Donnell 70).
Not used: Fernie, Sweeney, Wright and Smith.

Last five meetings

  • Stranraer 1 Albion Rovers 0 (Woods) at Stair Park on October 2, 2021
  • Albion Rovers 0 Stranraer 2 (Hilton and Victoria) at Cliftonhill on April 20, 2021
  • Stranraer 4 Albion Rovers 0 (Paton, Orr, Duffy and Elliott) at Stair Park on December 19, 2021
  • Stranraer 2 Albion Rovers 2 (Sonkur and Paton; Jamieson and Fotheringham) (Albion Rovers win 15-14 on penalties) at Stair Park on October 13, 2020
  • Stranraer 2 Albion Rovers 3 (Turner x2; Fisher, Hester and McLeish) at Stair Park on March 10, 2018

Last five games

Stranraer were on a three-game winning run before tasting defeat at home to league leaders Kelty

Stranraer

  • LOSS v Kelty Hearts (H): 0-4
  • WIN v Cowdenbeath (H): 2-0 (Yates and Muir)
  • WIN v Stenhousemuir (A): 1-4 (Robertson, Brady, Sonkur and Muir (Pen))
  • WIN v Elgin City (H): 1-0 (Ross)
  • LOSS v Edinburgh City (A): 3-1 (Yates)

Albion Rovers

  • DRAW v Cowdenbeath (A): 0-0
  • LOSS v Kelty Hearts (A): 6-1 (O’Donnell)
  • LOSS v Forfar Athletic (H): 2-3 (Dolan and Reilly)
  • LOSS v Ayr United (A): 2-1 (Wright)
  • DRAW v Annan Athletic (A): 1-1 (C Wilson)

Last time out

Stranraer v Kelty Hearts: Baker, Robertson (Woods 60), Burns, Sonkur, Ellis, Ross, Brady (Moore 46), Hawkshaw (Walker 80), Muir (Rennie 80), Watson (Smith 46), Yates.
Not used: Langan, Irving, Ngoy and Scullion.

Albion Rovers v Cowdenbeath: Binnie, Lynas, Fernie, McGowan, Fagan, L Wilson, Leslie (Roberts 73), D Wilson, Reilly, O’Donnell (Mullen 60), Dolan.
Not used: Robinson, El-Zubaidi, McVey, Byrne and Smith.

Five facts

Scott Agnew notched a first career hat trick at Cliftonhill in September 2017

1. Stranraer have scored in nine of their last 10 visits to Cliftonhill. The exception came in April 2017 when the home side won 3-0, thanks to goals from Paul Willis, future Blue Ryan Wallace and a Morgyn Neill own goal.

2. Paul Woods scored the only goal in the previous meeting between the sides earlier this season. He also scored once at Cliftonhill in 4-0 win in September 2017, with Scott Agnew scoring a hat-trick. Those two Woods goals account for half of his goals for Stranraer.

3. That Agnew hat-trick against Albion Rovers in September 2017 was the last time a Stranraer player scored three times in a single match. Agnew opened the scoring before netting a double from the penalty spot for his first career treble.

4. You have to go back to May 2010 for the last goalless draw between the sides at Cliftonhill. The Stranraer team that day was: David Mitchell, Glen Mitchell, Lee Sharp, Murray Henderson, Steven Noble, Scott Agnew, Kevin Nicoll, Danny Mitchell, Kevin Cawley, Michael Moore, Ray Montgomerie (Armand One 46). Not used: Scott McManus, Kyle Wright, Paul McInnes and Ryan Marshall.

5. Fans were allowed into the league match between the two sides at Stair Park last season where Stranraer ran out 4-0 winners. After a goalless first half, goals came from Ruari Paton, Tom Orr, Darryl Duffy and Cameron Elliott.