You are currently viewing Forfar Athletic preview

Forfar Athletic preview

Matty Grant is hoping to hand manager Jamie Hamill a welcome boost and return to fitness for tomorrow’s trip to Forfar.

The Blues have not been short of injuries this term with Grant Gallagher, Paul Woods, Dean Hawkshaw and Luke Scullion all missing large chunks of the campaign.

Summer signing Grant has not featured since the 2-1 defeat to Stenhousemuir at the beginning of last month.

However, he revealed he was edging closer to fitness and hoped to get the green light to get back involved soon.

Speaking on Thursday, he said: “I trained on Tuesday and obviously did the warm up on Saturday.

“I felt quite good and was straight back on it on Tuesday night.

“I was back training on Tuesday and I will be training again tonight.

Matty Grant is hoping to be available for the trip to Angus

“If I am available for selection then I think will be alright.

“I will speak to the gaffer and see what he thinks.

“If anything, I might get back in the squad.

“It was about three weeks ago when basically I was so unlucky.

“I basically just blocked a shot or a pass and the ball has just connected with my ankle.

“I’ve torn a wee ligament in my ankle; I’ve just been unlucky.”

The injury has forced Grant to sit in the stands with the fans in recent weeks.

Coming back to fitness, he finds his team-mates still in the hunt for the promotion play-offs but also looking over their shoulder at bottom spot.

Four points off third placed Annan Athletic and six points clear of bottom placed Bonnyrigg Rose shows there is still everything to play for.

Stranraer will be hoping to end their Station Park hoodoo this Saturday

The 21-year-old said it was the first time he had ever been in a league this tight.

Stranraer’s placing has not been helped by poor away form, which was finally ended with a 3-1 victory at Bayview Stadium last month.

Now, the Blues make the trip to Station Park looking to end another unwanted record.

Stranraer have not won at Forfar since 2015 and they will be up against a side in impressive form since the arrival of Ray McKinnon.

Grant made his debut in the first league meeting in Angus this campaign and said: “Getting a win on an away day makes the journey that bit better.

“Away, or at home, coming back back up the road after a win is always good.

“It is a good laugh and the atmosphere is always bouncing.

“It does make your weekend better.”

Last meeting

Stranraer 1-0 Forfar Athletic

James Hilton scored the winner in the Blues’ last meeting with Forfar

A season-ending injury for Paul Woods marred Stranraer’s 1-0 win over Forfar earlier in the campaign.

The only goal came from barely a yard out as Marc McCallum failed to deal with a Salim Kouider-Aissa header. James Hilton was lurking and had the easiest of tasks of tapping the ball into the empty net.

Woods had already been denied by McCallum before the injury just before the half time whistle. There was a lengthy stoppage as the midfielder was given treatment before being stretchered off.

Forfar were improved after the break and Nathan Flanagan called Luke Scullion into action before the visitors almost levelled in bizarre circumstances. Scott Robertson’s header looped over Scullion and came back off the crossbar, but Kyle Girvan was perfectly placed to deny Stefan McCluskey an equaliser.

Stranraer: Scullion, Robertson, Girvan, McIntosh, Hilton, Gallagher (Brady 67), Woods (Ellis 46), Hawkshaw (Walker 81), Forrest, Grant (Watt 81), Kouider-Aissa.
Not used: McLean, Eze and O’Connor.

Forfar Athletic: McCallum, Nditi, Docherty, Munro, Dailly, Hutton, Moore (Harkins 67), Jack (Hanratty 80), Aitken, McCluskey, Ferguson (Flanagan 56).
Not used: Abed, Irvine and Kennedy.

Last five meetings

  • Stranraer 1 Forfar Athletic 0 (Hilton) at Stair Park on October 29, 2022
  • Forfar Athletic 2 Stranraer 0 (Slater and Munro) at Station Park on August 6, 2022
  • Forfar Athletic 2 Stranraer 2 (Forfar Athletic win 5-3 on penalties before tie is awarded to Forfar Athletic due to ineligible player) (Own goal and Jack; Hilton and McLean (Pen)) at Station Park on July 19, 2022
  • Stranraer 0 Forfar Athletic 2 (Slater and McCluskey) at Stair Park on April 2, 2022
  • Forfar Athletic 3 Stranraer 2 (Shepherd (Pen x2) and Anderson; Walker and Muir) at Station Park on January 8, 2022

Last five games

Hilton came closest to equalising at Forthbank last weekend

Stranraer

  • LOSS v Stirling Albion (A): 1-0
  • WIN v East Fife (A): 1-3 (Walker (Pen), Hilton and Brown)
  • LOSS v Albion Rovers (H): 0-4
  • LOSS v Stenhousemuir (A): 2-1 (Walker)
  • LOSS v Bonnyrigg Rose (A): 3-2 (Walker and Watt)

Forfar Athletic

  • WIN v Albion Rovers (A): 0-1 (Robson)
  • WIN v Dumbarton (H): 2-1 (Armour x2 (Pen x1))
  • WIN v Annan Athletic (A): 0-2 (McCluskey and Docherty)
  • LOSS v Elgin City (H): 0-1
  • WIN v Stenhousemuir (A): 1-2 (McCluskey and Armour)

Last time out

Finn Ecrepont made his Blues debut last time out

Stranraer

Lineup v Stirling Albion: O’Connor, Girvan, Ross, Ecrepont, McIntosh, Brady, Hilton, Walker, Forrest (Robertson 89), Brown (Gallagher 65), Duffy (Malcolm 65).
Not used: Ellis, Dunn, Eze and Connelly.

Forfar Athletic

Lineup v Albion Rovers: McCallum, Nditi (Moore 81), Docherty, Munro, Hutchinson, Hutton, Thomson (Aitken 68), Ross, Robson, Armour (Gillies 77), Flanagan (Watson 78).
Not used: Brindley, Jack and Kennedy.

Five facts

Happy birthday to former Blues winger Mark Lamont, along with centre back Mark Campbell

1. At least two former Stranraer players are toasting birthdays as Stranraer take on Forfar Athletic. Celebrating his birthday is central defender Mark Campbell, who joined the club from Maybole. He would go on to play for Ayr United, Falkirk, St Johnstone, Raith Rovers and Queen of the South before moving to Irvine Meadow. Campbell turns 45 on Saturday. Finally, Mark Lamont turns 30. The former East Fife and Stirling Albion midfielder made 29 appearances for Stranraer finding the net in a 3-0 win over Brechin City. Ali McCann and Cameron Elliott also scored that day.

2. Stranraer have not won on their last 11 visits to Station Park. The last win came in September 2015 under Brian Reid. Mark McGuigan scored in the first half before Chris Aitken netted from the penalty spot. Mark Travis pulled one back for the home team. The Stranraer team that day was: McGurn, Pettigrew, Bell, Mair, Rumsby (Aitken 44), Keenan, Cairney (Turner 81), Stirling, McGill, Thomson, McGuigan (Longworth 87). Not used: McCloskey, Malcolm, Samson and Currie.

3. Among the players to have played for both sides is goalkeeper Colin Meldrum, who made fewer than 10 appearances for the two sides combined. He made seven appearances for Stranraer during a loan spell in 1998-99 and made two starts for the Angus side in August 2005.

4. Ray McKinnon’s men have won five out of their last six games having won one of their previous six matches.

5. Twenty years ago, Stranraer and Forfar faced each other six times in the space of little over six months. In September at Stair Park, the Blues won 2-0 thanks to goals from Lee Sharp and Ian Harty. A Scottish Cup tie in January 2003 finished 2-2 at Station Park as Kevin Byers and Paul Tosh scored for the hosts and Paul Kerr and Allan Jenkins scored for Stranraer. The home side won for a second time at Stair Park as Kerr, Jenkins and Kevin Finlayson scored – Kevin Milne and Kevin Byers scoring for the visitors – before the cup replay. Ian Harty scored the only goal then but Forfar would win at Station Park the following month. An own goal and a Paul Tosh penalty came either side of a Michael Moore effort. Finally, the Angus side wrapped up the meetings in style with a 4-0 triumph as Barry Sellars, Stewart Greacen, Scott McCulloch and Martin Bavidge scored.

Photos: Bill McCandlish