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  • Post published:3 March 2023

James Hilton has called on his team-mates to keep rolling up their sleeves for battle as the season enters the home straight.

There are 30 points still to play for, which could yet see Stranraer getting ready for a promotion play-off or looking to avoid the drop to the Scottish Lowland Football League.

The first of the 10 games comes tomorrow when the Blues welcome Dumbarton to Stair Park for the second time this season.

Hilton stressed the club were only focusing on the next game and not getting carried away after back-to-back wins.

He said: “We know the noise outside – we know people are saying there’s a relegation battle and we could go down to the Lowland League and what could happen.

“We know that.

“I say to the boys in the changing room that I have been here my whole life and I know how important it is for the club to stay in the league.

Hilton joined his hometown club in 2019

“We need to battle.

“I think we have shown the fans the past two weeks what it means to us.

“We are not just in here, showing up and picking up a wage packet.

“We are here to get Stranraer as high up the league as possible.

“I think that has showed.”

Victory last weekend over East Fife came on the back of an impressive win away to Elgin City.

However, despite those six points, the Blues remain in eighth position in a tight League Two.

Annan Athletic sit four points above Stranraer in third spot while Bonnyrigg Rose are eight points behind the Blues at the bottom of the table.

Coincidentally, the Midlothian side are the only team in the league Stranraer have not beaten this campaign.

Ahead of the visit of Dumbarton tomorrow, Hilton said: “We have beaten Dumbarton before.

“We beat them here and think we probably should have won there.

Dumbarton suffered defeat on their last visit to Stair Park

“I missed a couple of chances and we played nice stuff.

“They scored a scrappy goal and they are good at that.

“Once they got the goal, they were solid.”

Last weekend’s win over East Fife came as Hilton played his 100th game for Stranraer over his two spells with the club.

Start number 66 was marked with goal number 21 as Jamie Hamill’s men won 2-0.

Speaking at the full-time whistle, the goalscorer said: “Some weeks you feel different and today I did feel different.

“I just had a wee spring in my step in the warm up and I just felt it was going to be a good day and it was.”

Last meeting

Dumbarton 2-0 Stranraer

James Hilton came close to scoring at the Rock in November

Goals at the end of either half gave Dumbarton all three points in November last year.

Stranraer had created chances, with James Hilton’s deflected shot clearing the crossbar in the opening 45 minutes. Ross MacLean struck the woodwork at the other end and the deadlock would be broken just before the interval. The visitors failed to clear a free-kick and Gregor Buchanan managed to force the ball home.

Hilton was repeatedly denied by Brett Long after the break but the points were secured when Michael Garritty ran clear to score at the end of the game.

Dumbarton: Long, Buchanan, Carswell, Lynas, McNiff, Wylde (Wallace 69), Orsi (Wilson 73), McKee (Garrity 73), Gray, Blair, MacLean.
Not used: McGeever, Lynch and Broun.

Stranraer: Scullion, Robertson, Girvan, McIntosh (Ross 65), Hilton, Gallagher (Eze 85), Hawkshaw (Walker 64), Forrest, McLean, Grant (Brady 81), Kouider-Aissa.
Not used: Ellis, Watt, Dunn and O’Connor.

Last five meetings

  • Dumbarton 2 Stranraer 0 (Buchanan and Garrity) at Dumbarton Football Stadium on November 5, 2022
  • Stranraer 3 Dumbarton 2 (Hilton, Grant and Woods (Pen); McNiff and McKee (Pen)) at Stair Park on September 20, 2022
  • Dumbarton 1 Stranraer 0 (Wilson) at Dumbarton Football Stadium on May 11, 2021
  • Stranraer 0 Dumbarton 0 at Stair Park on May 8, 2021
  • Dumbarton 1 Stranraer 1 (Tierney; Hilton) at Dumbarton Football Stadium on December 28, 2019

Stranraer’s last five games

Goals from Matty Grant and James Hilton helped Stranraer to their second win on the trot
  • WIN v East Fife (H): 2-0 (Grant and Hilton)
  • WIN v Elgin City (A): 0-1 (Robertson)
  • LOSS v Bonnyrigg Rose (H): 0-1
  • LOSS v Forfar Athletic (A): 2-1 (Malcolm)
  • LOSS v Stirling Albion (A): 1-0

Dumbarton’s last five games

  • WIN v Stenhousemuir (H): 1-0 (Gray)
  • LOSS v Elgin City (H): 1-2 (Blair)
  • LOSS v East Fife (A): 2-0
  • WIN v Annan Athletic (H): 2-1 (Wallace and MacLean)
  • DRAW v Stenhousemuir (A): 1-1 (Love)

Last time out

Luke Watt and Anton Brady returned to the Blues starting lineup last weekend

Stranraer lineup v East Fife: Connelly, Robertson, Ross, Watt, McIntosh, Brady, Hilton (Walker 88), Gallagher, Grant, Ngandu, Brown (Walker 85).
Not used: Malcolm and O’Connor.

Dumbarton lineup v Stenhousemuir: Long, Wylde, Buchanan, Lynas, Grant, Orsi (McLean 89), MacLean, McKee, Gray, Blair, Byrne (Love 73).
Not used: Lynch, McNiff, Vata and Broun.

Five facts

Happy birthday to former Blues left back Sam Lidington
  1. Former Stranraer full back Sam Lidington turns 26 on Saturday. The Kilmarnock youngster joined the Blues under Stevie Farrell and spent a season out on loan before making his debut for the club in July 2018. He would make two appearances for Stranraer: coming off the bench against Queen of the South and Raith Rovers.
  2. Stranraer have failed to score in three of the last five meetings with Dumbarton at Stair Park. The other two fixtures have ended 3-2 in favour of the home side.
  3. Jamie Hamill’s side are looking to win three games in a row for the first time since the end of 2021. On that occasion, the Blues beat Elgin 1-0 (Craig Ross scored), Stenhousemuir 4-1 (Scott Robertson, Anton Brady, Ayrton Sonkur and Tommy Muir scored) and Cowdenbeath 2-0 (Matty Yates and Muir scored).
  4. The Stair Park fans need to cast their minds back 12 more months for the last time they kept three consecutive clean sheets. A 4-0 win over Albion Rovers (Ruari Paton, Tom Orr, Darryl Duffy and Cameron Elliott scored), was followed by a 5-0 win over Spartans (Duffy, Paton, Adam Cummins and Matty Yates x2) and a 2-0 win over Annan Athletic (Orr and Paton scored).
  5. Stranraer last played – and won – on March 4 in 2017. The Blues travelled to Airdrie and emerged with a 2-1 win, despite playing more than half an hour with 10 men after Morgyn Neill was sent off. Craig Malcolm and Ryan Thomson scored for the visitors, with Andy Ryan finding a last minute consolation. The team was: Belford, Robertson, Dick, Barron, Bell, Neill, Agnew, Donald (Wilson 84), Thomson, Gibson, Malcolm (Kassarate 84). Not used: Pettigrew, Turner, McGuigan, Kemp and Currie.


You can pay at the gate at Stair Park

Entry for home league games is on a ‘pay at the gate’ basis.

The Pavilion Bar is open from 1pm and club merchandise is available in front of the main stand.

Pricing is as follows:

  • Adult – £15
  • Concession – £10
  • 12 to 16 Years Old – £5
  • Under 12 – FREE

Photos: Bill McCandlish