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Forfar Athletic preview

Home advantage could be crucial as Stranraer look to pull away from the bottom of League Two.

The Blues welcome Forfar Athletic on Saturday, before a quickfire Tuesday night rematch with Dumbarton (who won 2-1 last weekend) at Stair Park.

Kyle Girvan will hope to be involved in both games and is targeting positive results.

Now, in the face of back-to-back defeats, he is calling for a united front both on and off the park.

He said: “We need to collect points at home.

“We expect to be winning our games at home.

“We have got the fans there and we need all the fans to stick together and back us to the death.

“I think we have got 11 games now and we expect to take the majority of points at home.

“We should be winning these games and I think we will.”

An early goal from Craig Ross had given Stranraer the perfect platform to go on and get a positive result at Dumbarton last weekend.

Instead, the lead lasted just three minutes before Michael Ruth equalised and Tony Wallace scored the winner at the midway point of the half.

Despite pressure after the break, Stranraer could not find another goal to ensure at least a point returned south.

Girvan said: “The first half, we were not at it.

Girvan has been an important figure at the heart of the Blues defence

“You could see that but in the second half I thought we deserved something and were a lot better.

“We showed that out on the park.

“We had a few chances where the goalkeeper has made some good saves and we were unfortunate not to come away with at least a point.”

Tomorrow’s game brings Stranraer’s first home game since going down 2-1 to Spartans.

A Tom Orr goal before the break again had the hosts in front but former Blue Ayrton Sonkur scored twice in stoppage time to leave Stranraer heartbroken.

Girvan described the feeling as “gutting” at the full-time whistle.

He said: “It was sitting there in silence.

“Everybody was devastated, everybody was gutted.

“We have just worked for 91 minutes, we had played really well, and for that to happen to us, maybe for a few minutes we were switched off, and that has happened.

“The dressing room it is very hard, especially the bus journey home.

“But, after the next training session, you have just got to look forward.

“You cannot look back on it.

“It has happened, it is finished now, and you have got to be positive and look to the next game.”

Last meeting

Forfar and Stranraer battled out a draw at a frosty Station Park in December

A Forfar corner led to a straight-forward opening goal for the hosts at Station Park in December.

The ball was whipped into the near post, where it was flicked on by Andy Munro and Matty Allan was all on his own a couple of yards out to nod home.

Both teams huffed and puffed, with Seb Ross heading straight at Lewis Budinauckas from about six yards out as Forfar forced a number of corners.

It was the second half before Stranraer levelled things. Olly McDonald’s free-kick was on target but took a sizeable deflection and looped over Marc McCallum.

The hosts had chances to restore their lead and win the game but Josh Skelly’s header landed on the roof of the net.

Forfar Athletic: McCallum, Brindlay, Allan, Munro, Nditi, Morrison, Moore (Ferguson 85), Skelly (Inglis 75), Whatley (Mutale 75), Robson, S Ross (Paterson 89).
Not used: Watson and Paris.

Stranraer: Budinauckas, Williamson, Girvan, C Ross, Robertson, Hawkshaw, Forrest, Fleming, Grant (Dolan 75), McDonald (Walker 89), Lang.
Not used: Sneddon, Strachan and Downie.

Last five meetings

  • Forfar Athletic 1 Stranraer 1 (Allan; McDonald) at Station Park on December 2, 2023
  • Stranraer 0 Forfar Athletic 2 (Paterson and Skelly) at Stair Park on September 23, 2023
  • Stranraer 0 Forfar Athletic 0 at Stair Park on April 8, 2023
  • Forfar Athletic 2 Stranraer 1 (Ross and McCluskey; Malcolm) at Station Park on February 4, 2023
  • Stranraer 1 Forfar Athletic 0 (Hilton) at Stair Park on October 29, 2022

Last five games

The Blues’ last win came against Clyde in February

Stranraer

  • LOSS v Dumbarton (A): 2-1 (Ross)
  • LOSS v Spartans (H): 1-2 (Orr)
  • WIN v Clyde (H): 2-0 (Fleming and Ecrepont)
  • DRAW v Bonnyrigg Rose (A): 0-0
  • LOSS v East Fife (H): 0-1

Forfar Athletic

  • DRAW v East Fife (A): 1-1 (Allan)
  • DRAW v Peterhead (H): 3-3 (McLean x2 and Morrison)
  • DRAW v Dumbarton (A): 2-2 (Morrison and Mohammed)
  • WIN v Spartans (H): 1-0 (Brindley)
  • DRAW v Bonnyrigg Rose (H): 0-0

Last time out

Craig Ross opened the scoring last weekend

Stranraer

Lineup v Dumbarton: Budinauckas, Girvan, C Ross, McQueen, Ecrepont, Dolan, Forrest, Fleming, Grant, Orr (Johnston 46), Lang (Armour 73).
Not used: Williamson and Downie.

Forfar Athletic

Lineup v East Fife: McCallum, Allan, Hutchinson, Munro, Brindley, Whatley, Morrison, Allan (S Ross 70), Scally (Thomson 70), Skelly (Mohammed 82), McLean.
Not used: Nditi, Moore, Inglis, Mykyta, Lobban and Paris.

Five facts

Stranraer picked up a point against Raith Rovers on 2 March 2019

1. Midfielder Andy Gibson celebrates his 42nd birthday tomorrow (Saturday). The Glasgow-born footballer had four spells at Stirling Albion. He started his career at Partick Thistle before two loan spells at Forthbank. A brief spell at Stenhousemuir was followed by a stint back at Stirling. Then, it was two years at Stranraer, where he clocked up more than 75 appearances. After leaving the Blues, he joined… Stirling Albion before dropping into the Juniors with Glasgow Perthshire. His final game in a Stranraer shirt was a 1-0 loss to East Fife at the end of the 2008/09 season. The home team that day was: Crossthwaite, Noble, Wilson, Kane, McBride, Mitchell, Gibson, Whorlow (Murdoch 78), Frizzell, Jones (Paisley 63), McConalogue. Not used: Aitken, Watt and Miller.

2. The last time Stranraer played on March 2 was five years ago. Then, they led 2-0 against Raith Rovers through first half strikes from future Kirkcaldy players Kyle Turner and Joao Victoria. The game finished level though as Craig McGuffie and Kevin Nisbet found the net before the hour mark.

3. Much is often made of Stranraer’s record at Station Park and the fact they have not picked up three points at Forfar since September 2015. Since then, Forfar have won four times at Stair Park, including earlier this season.

4. The first goal is often vital in football and that is highlighted in Stranraer’s games with Forfar. The team that has scored first in the last eight meetings has gone on to take at least a point. The last time Stranraer scored first and failed to take the win was January 2022. Scott Shepherd scored two penalties while Grant Anderson found the net after cancelling out Josh Walker’s opener at Station Park. Tommy Muir pulled one back but it was not enough. The last time Stranraer came from a goal down to win against Forfar was May 2014. Gavin Swankie opened the scoring before Sean Winter, Scott Rumsby and Frank McKeown found the net.

5. Stranraer and Forfar Athletic have been very regular foes over the years. Tomorrow’s clash will be the 70th meeting since the turn of the millennium. The final meeting of the 1990s saw Stranraer win 4-0. Tom Black scored the only goal of the first half before a double from Paul McIntyre sandwiched a Graeme Ferguson own goal.

Admission

Admission at Stair Park is on a ‘pay at the gate’ basis, with pricing as follows:

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

Stranraer FC merchandise is available, and the Pavilion Bar at the ground is open from 1pm for pre and post-match refreshments.

You can also support the club by picking up a 50/50 draw ticket along with your teamsheet at the turnstile.

Coverage

Blues supporters far and wide can now access a variety of extra coverage and content via our Club 1870 subscription service

Follow live matchday updates on X (formerly Twitter) throughout the afternoon.

The manager’s interview will be available on YouTube during the evening, and Club 1870 subscribers can watch the goals before midnight and an exclusive post-match player interview.

Extended highlights will follow on Sunday morning, with full match footage available via Club 1870 on Sunday afternoon.

Photos: Bill McCandlish