AN INCREASED ruthlessness in front of goal could see Stranraer end their winless run tomorrow (Saturday).
The Blues will welcome Cowdenbeath to Stair Park for the first time in four-and-a-half years.
Plenty has changed since then, with only Scott Robertson and Andy Stirling at the club now to have featured for a Stranraer side managed by Brian Reid that day.
Stevie Farrell’s men have been working hard in front of goal throughout the week as they attempt to get their first three points in League Two.
Last week saw Stranraer come close to adding to their points tally, only for Queen’s Park to score in the final ten minutes.
Farrell said: “Performances have been good and I just hope tomorrow is the one that the players go and they get that result for them.
“More than me, more than the fans, more than the club but for them because I think their performances from the start of the season have deserved more than they have got.
“We’ve spoken about that all week and we have worked on finishing and that clinical edge all week in training and hopefully we can go and have a similar performance to last week and go and take our chances and get a massive three points.”
The defeat to the Spiders stretched Stranraer’s unwanted winless run and Farrell was not hiding from that.
He said: “We know we have not won for a year – it’s actually 19 games.
“The largest majority of those games were in League One and three of them in League Two.
“We know where we are now and we truly believe that a win is round the corner and there is no reason why that cannot be tomorrow.”
Midfielder Grant Gallagher will serve the second game of his two-match ban while Cameron Elliott is likely to return towards the end of the month after injuring his ankle in training.
The duo are joined on the sidelines by defender Tom Devitt, who is missing due to personal reasons.
However, the Blues will welcome back Joao Victoria and Ayrton Sonkur, while James Hilton came through his substitute appearance last weekend unscathed and will be in contention for tomorrow’s clash.
The two trialists who have been named on the bench for the last two games are also expected to be again involved with the first team tomorrow.
That will be their final appearance before Farrell makes a decision on whether to offer either of them a deal.
Stranraer 1-0 Cowdenbeath
MARK McGuigan’s second half goal secured play-off football at Stair Park for the third season in a row.
The Blues came into the game knowing only a win would guarantee a shot at the play-offs under Brian Reid. The scores were blank at half time but Stranraer fans would only have to wait a few more minutes for the only goal of the game.
Willie Gibson collected the ball 30 yards from goal and powered forward, with Grant Adam making the save. It was McGuigan who reacted quickest to the loose ball and scored.
The visitors pushed for a leveller late on, with even Adam going up to try to salvage a point but the goal never came.
Stranraer: Belford, Robertson, Pettigrew, Dick, Cairney (Aitken 89), Bell, Stirling, Thomson (Turner 86), Gibson, Malcolm, McGuigan (Longworth 55).
Not used: Barron, Rumsby, Kemp and Currie.
Cowdenbeath: Adam, Donaldson, Sives, El-Zubaidi, Adamson, Brett, Kane (Johnston 82), Gibbons (Caldwell 67), Miller, McDaid (Byrne 60), Spence.
Not used: Scullion, Swan and Roman.
Last five meetings
- Stranraer 1 Cowdenbeath 0 (McGuigan) at Stair Park on April 30, 2016
- Cowdenbeath 0 Stranraer 2 (Gibson and Malcolm (P)) at Central Park on January 23, 2016
- Stranraer 0 Cowdenbeath 3 (Donaldson, Miller and Buchanan) at Stair Park on October 24, 2015
- Cowdenbeath 1 Stranraer 2 (Brett; Thomson and Malcolm (P)) at Central Park on August 8, 2015
- Cowdenbeath 0 Stranraer 0 at Central Park on April 7, 2007
- Ross Clarke (Albion Rovers)
- Olly Hamilton (St Johnstone, loan)
- Graham Hay (Broughty Athletic, loan)
- Cian Kavanagh (Heart of Midlothian)
- Iain Russell (Pollok, loan)
- Ross Sinclair (St Johnstone, loan)
- Brad Smith (Broughty Athletic, loan)
Last five games
- LOSS v Queen’s Park (H): 0-1
- DRAW v Annan Athletic (A): 1-1 (Stirling)
- LOSS v Elgin City (H): 1-4 (Devitt)
- LOSS v Albion Rovers (H): 2-2 (Sonkur and Paton) Stranraer lost 15-14 on penalties
- WIN v Annan Athletic (A): 1-1 (Paton) Stranraer win 5-4 on penalties
- DRAW v Stenhousemuir (H) 1-1 (Smith)
- WIN v Edinburgh City (A): 0-1 (Smith)
- LOSS v Annan Athletic (A): 3-0
- LOSS v Inverness Caledonian Thistle (A): 0-0 Inverness Caledonian Thistle win 4-2 on penalties
- LOSS v Heart of Midlothian (H): 0-1
Last time out
Stranraer v Queen’s Park: Fleming, Robertson, Burns, Devitt, Hamill, McManus (Cummins 88), Stirling, Millar, Paton (A Trialist 78), Duffy (Hilton 73), Orr.
Not used: McIntyre, B Trialist and Walker.
Cowdenbeath v Stenhousemuir: Sinclair, Mullen, Clarke, Todd, Barr, Hay, Miller, Taylor, Smith, Kavanagh (Hamilton 82), Buchanan.
Not used: Swan, Glass, Owens, Herd, Easton and Whyte.
It is another new face at Stair Park as Graham Grainger takes to the field. The referee is in his second season at this level but has taken charge of two games involving Cowdenbeath.
In August last year, he ventured to Fife as Cowdenbeath took on Annan Athletic. Robbie Buchanan scored for the hosts before Christian Nadé levelled things up six minutes after the break. However, goals from Connor Smith and Fraser Mullen gave the hosts all three points.
His final match of the campaign came at Borough Briggs. Jordan Allan opened the scoring for the visitors before Archie Macphee and Shane Sutherland turned the game on its head. Former Livingston striker Jordyn Sheerin levelled things up for the visitors but Brian Cameron scored the winner two minutes later.
We will provide details of stream access on Saturday.
Photos: Bill McCandlish, Pollok FC