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Playoff first leg preview

Goal hero Ryan Edgar has called on the Stranraer faithful to keep backing the club ahead of two massive games.

A bumper crowd cheered the Blues to victory against League Two champions Stenhousemuir last weekend.

Edgar’s second half strike came after James Dolan had broken the deadlock against the Warriors.

Now, Scott Agnew’s side travel to East Kilbride tomorrow (Saturday) for the first leg of the play-offs as they look to preserve their League Two status.

Edgar said: “The fans are going to be massive over the next two games.

“Honestly, having the backing of the fans, especially at the weekend, I think it was the record attendance for the season, it was magnificent.

“Having the fans behind you, they want to win as much as you do.

“They are going to give their all in support of you and as long as you are doing your best they are behind you 110 per cent – all the way.”

The teenager’s journey to the first team has now come full circle.

Edgar (centre) started out at local youth club Millennium FC

Beginning his career at hometown team Millennium, he headed north to Ayr to play for Valspar.

From there, it was on to Kilwinning Rangers and Auchinleck Talbot before returning south to Stranraer.

Thirty-two goals for Allan Jenkins’ South of Scotland Football League side brought Edgar to Agnew’s attention.

The striker said: “I got the opportunity about six weeks ago to go up and start training with the first team.

“To begin with, it was just once a week while we still had games to play with the reserves.

“I got on pretty decently at training according to Allan when he was speaking to the manager and he was wanting to get me up a bit more regularly.

“I started going up twice a week and eventually he brought me into the squad against Dumbarton and the following few games afterwards.”

The 19-year-old then made his debut more than 180 miles away from Stair Park when he came off the bench against Forfar Athletic.

His dad, James, was on hand to see him replace Deryn Lang for the final 22 minutes.

The youngster stepped the bench to grab the second goal of the game at Stair Park

Seven days later and there was a home debut and a goal against Gary Naysmith’s Stenhousemuir.

The game at Stair Park, Edgar’s first time playing on the pitch, was attended by more than 700 fans – many of whom cheering on Edgar.

The frontman described it as “a really proud moment” and marked the occasion by scoring the second goal of the afternoon.

That set up the important play-off fixtures with the Scottish Lowland Football League champions.

Edgar said: “The players and the management, we all know, how a big moment this is for Stranraer and for the club.

“We are the third oldest club in Scotland – it is not something we ever want to happen to us.”

Last meeting

Matty Yates fired the Blues to victory in only their second competitive meeting with East Kilbride

Jamie Hamill’s home debut as manager brought Stranraer and East Kilbride together less than three years ago.

The Blues saw plenty of the ball over the 90 minutes and the only goal of the game came after 26 minutes. Grant Gallagher’s through ball opened up the defence and Matty Yates kept his cool to slot beyond former Stranraer goalkeeper Conor Brennan.

The visitors came within a whisker of levelling when Neil McLaughlin was allowed to run through but his low shot came back off the post and Stranraer survived.

The woodwork again came to Stranraer’s rescue when Steven Old rose highest but his header clipped the crossbar.

Curtis Lyle denied Joao Victoria after the break while Stranraer came close through Tommy Muir.

Goalkeeper Lyle also denied Craig Malcolm late on as the hosts clung on for the win.

Stranraer: Lyle, Robertson, Burns, Muir (Hawkshaw 57), Ross, McIntosh, Millar (Langan 71), Gallagher, Moore (Woods 71), Walker (Rennie 56), Yates.
Not used: Sonkur, Irving and Lyle.

East Kilbride: Brennan, Stevenson, Kenny, Old, Brady, Rodgers (Erskine 63), Stewart, McLaughlin, Elliott, Malcolm, Victoria (McAninch 80).
Not used: Richardson, McNee, Connor and Kean.

Previous meetings

Sean Winter scored for Kilby in the first ever meeting between the sides
  • Stranraer 1 East Kilbride 0 (Yates) at Stair Park on July 17, 2021
  • Stranraer 2 East Kilbride 1 (Gibson (Pen) and own goal; Winter) at Stair Park on December 3, 2016

Last five games

James Dolan scored the opening goal against champions Stenhousemuir

Stranraer

  • WIN v Stenhousemuir (H): 2-0 (Dolan and Edgar)
  • LOSS v Forfar Athletic (A): 0-2
  • DRAW v Dumbarton (H): 0-0
  • DRAW v The Spartans (A): 0-0
  • LOSS v Clyde (A): 1-0

East Kilbride

  • WIN v Tranent (A): 0-3 (Daramola x2 and Ferguson)
  • LOSS v Civil Service Strollers (A): 2-1 (Ferguson)
  • WIN v Albion Rovers (A): 0-2 (Thomson and Montagu)
  • WIN v Berwick Rangers (H): 1-0 (Robertson (Pen))
  • LOSS v Tranent (N): 2-2 (Tranent win 5-4 on penalties) (Balde and Lockie)

Last time out

Dylan Forrest made a welcome return from suspension last weekend

Stranraer

Lineup v Stenhousemuir: Budinauckas, Ross, McQueen, Gallagher, Orr (Edgar 57), Dolan, Hawkshaw (Grant 57), Forrest, Fleming (Lang 46), Ecrepont, McIntosh.
Not used: Williamson, Gilmartin and Downie.

East Kilbride

Lineup v Tranent: Avci, Ferguson, Lockie, Fagan (McDonald 35), Balde, Montagu (McGrory 21), MacDonald (Arnott 8), Robertson (Daramola 8), Spence, Thomson, Stirling.
Not used: McGowan and Brown.

Five facts

Former Blues favourite Andy Stirling could feature for the hosts

1. Dean Hawkshaw will make his 50th start for Stranraer, if selected for tomorrow’s trip to K-Park. The midfielder is in his second spell with the Blues and has also clocked up 30 substitute appearances. His debut came at home to East Fife in February 2018.

2. Tomorrow’s trip to K-Park is Stranraer’s first competitive visit to the ground. It marks the second time this season that the Blues have played at a new ground. They defeated Civil Service Strollers 3-0 at Christie Gillies Park, thanks to goals from the defensive trio of Kyle Girvan, Craig Ross and Scott Robertson.

3. There will be a few familiar faces to Stranraer fans among the East Kilbride squad. Lyle Avci, Chris McGowan, Andy McDonald, Andy Stirling and Keir Samson were all part of Stranraer squads in the past. Between them, they made more than 200 appearances for the club.

4. Today (Friday) is a day of birthdays for Stranraer goalkeepers. Current shotstopper George O’Connor and former Blues Mark McGeown and Daniel Tobin will all be tucking into some birthday cake. O’Connor, who is on loan at Chris Aitken’s Kilwinning Rangers, made two appearances earlier this season against Kelty Hearts and Stenhousemuir. Meanwhile, McGeown made more than 100 appearances between the sticks at the turn of the millennium. Tobin was with the club during the 2014/15 season and was a capable understudy to David Mitchell following Chris Fahey’s departure.

5. Scott Agnew will become the third different Stranraer manager to face East Kilbride in the three competitive meetings. Brian Reid was at the helm for the first meeting in 2016 before Jamie Hamill took charge in 2021. Agnew actually played in the first meeting and the Stranraer team that day was: Belford, Robertson, Dick, Barron, Bell, Gibson, Turner, Thomson, Malcolm (Morena 89), Nuttall, McGuigan (Agnew 38). Not used: Watt, Sherry, Maley and Currie.

Admission

K-Park Academy is the venue for the opening leg

Saturday’s opening leg is all-ticket, with tickets almost sold out at time of writing.

Due to a limited capacity at K-Park, East Kilbride have given us an allocation of 150 away tickets for Saturday’s game, which went on sale to Stranraer supporters on Thursday and Friday.

If any tickets remain from this allocation, they will be taken up to East Kilbride and will be on sale before kickoff at K-Park between 1.45pm and 2.15pm.

If you can’t get to K-Park this weekend, we hope to welcome you to Stair Park next Saturday.

Coverage

Our media team will be in attendance at K-Park

We plan to bring you the usual highlights and interviews on YouTube this weekend, along with bonus coverage via Club 1870.

We have requested details from the home club in terms of media coverage for this weekend, but have yet to receive any confirmation on arrangements for filming.

You can follow live matchday updates on X (formerly Twitter) for the latest news throughout the afternoon.

Photos: Bill McCandlish