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Stranraer 2-0 East Fife

  • Post published:25 February 2023

Scorers: Stranraer – Grant (12) and Hilton (49)

A Hollywood script writer could scarcely have written it better for James Hilton.

His 100th appearance for his hometown club, a goal, a win and a clean sheet made for a memorable day for the Blues.

Jamie Hamill’s men came into the game on the back of a much-needed three points at Elgin City a week earlier.

However, the manager was forced into a double change as Finn Ecrepont missed out through injury and Kyle Girvan was sidelined through illness.

That meant a reshuffled defence as Luke Watt and Anton Brady came into the back four.

Hamill’s men had enjoyed early success in the wide areas and found their breakthrough before the quarter hour mark.

Matty Grant nodded the Blues in front after 13 minutes

Brady found a little bit of space on the left and whipped in a teasing ball.

Goalkeeper Allan Fleming and his defence failed to deal with it and Matty Grant was lurking at the back post to force the ball home.

That advantage was almost doubled within just two minutes.

A fine, flowing team move saw the ball come to Aaron Brown who powered into empty space outside the box.

His shot had Fleming beaten but flew just inches over the crossbar as he sought his first goal at Stair Park.

The visitors offered little in the opening period and quickly found themselves 2-0 down within the first five minutes of the second half.

Again, it was an impressive team move that started with Grant Gallagher winning the ball in midfield.

He found Jonathan Ngandu, who cleverly turned his man before slotting the ball through the defence for Brown.

The on-loan Kilmarnock teenager picked the right option in squaring the ball to Hilton, who beat Fleming to put the Blues firmly in control.

Jonny Ngandu produced a clever turn and incisive pass for the second goal

It was now up to the visitors to try to dictate the game and force their way back into the tie.

In truth, Stranraer soaked up the pressure reasonably comfortably with the Fifers only creating two real chances.

The first saw goalkeeper Matty Connelly quickly off his line to prevent Jack Healy from racing onto a through ball.

Then, as the game entered the final 10 minutes, the goalkeeper emerged victorious again.

This time, he denied substitute Scott Shepherd, who cut in from the right but placed his shot too close to the goalkeeper, who blocked with his leg.

A true team performance from the Blues, who, for large chunks of the game, held the upper hand and kept their opponents at a distance.

Stranraer: Connelly, Robertson, Watt, Ross, Hilton (Duffy 88), Gallagher, Ngandu, Brown (Walker 84), Brady, McIntosh, Grant.
Not used: Malcolm and O’Connor.

East Fife: Fleming, Steele, Millar (McManus 58), Denham, Healy (Walls 69), Page, Trouten, Schiavone (Steven 77), Denholm (Shepherd 58), Newton, Ferguson.
Not used: Omar, Mansouri, Murdoch, Agnew, Steven and Beveridge.

Referee: Barry Cook
Attendance: 425
HT: 1-0

Photos: Bill McCandlish