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Stranraer 1-1 East Fife

  • Post published:12 August 2023

Scorers: Stranraer – Orr (54); East Fife – Page (86)

Battling Stranraer picked up a valuable point against promotion contenders East Fife, despite playing more than 80 minutes with ten men.

An entertaining contest saw Craig Ross sent off early doors for the home side, who then took a deserved lead through Tom Orr.

Allan Fleming saved a Ben Armour spot kick and repeated the trick when the referee ordered it was retaken.

The hosts were, unfortunately, made to pay late on as Jonathan Page capitalised on a rare Martin McDonald error to salvage a draw.

As expected, Scott Agnew stuck with the same starting line-up that had defeated Elgin City on the opening day of the campaign.

The only alteration came on the bench as new signing Olly McDonald joined Scott Robertson, Josh Walker, Ben Hughes and George O’Connor.

Ryan Lee made his SPFL refereeing debut at Stair Park

The main talking point of the first half came after just nine minutes.

Prolific striker Nathan Austin tried to get away from Ross and Kyle Girvan and was sent sprawling to the turf fully 40 yards from goal.

Referee Ryan Lee deemed Ross had not only fouled the frontman but also denied a goalscoring opportunity and showed a straight red card.

On first viewing, it looked on the harsh side but, nevertheless, the hosts had to fight on for fully 81 minutes plus stoppage time.

It was a dismissal that East Fife failed to truly capitalise on over the remaining 35 minutes of the opening period.

Austin stung the palms of McDonald in the home goal while Stranraer’s defence stood firm.

Then, nine minutes into the second half, Stranraer struck an unexpected opener.

Orr still had plenty to do when he received James Dolan’s pass in the East Fife half.

Tom Orr struck a sensational second half opener for Stranraer

The striker did brilliantly though to cut in from the left and then fire beyond the reach of Fleming to get the home support off of their seats.

Now, East Fife had to gamble that little bit more and they should have worked McDonald just after the halfway point of the second half.

Austin turned provider and floated a ball in for Page, who could only guide a volley over the crossbar.

Four minutes later and it seemed as if all three points were within reach for the hosts.

Former Blue Connor McManus brought down Dolan in trying to clear the ball and the referee pointed to the penalty spot.

Fleming did well to save Armour’s spot kick but the Blues were given a second chance when the man in the middle deemed the goalkeeper had strayed from his line.

Again, the experienced number one proved up to the task as he guessed right for a second time to deny Armour.

Then, with time running out, came the suckerpunch.

New signing Olly McDonald played the final half hour

Jack Healy’s cross looked fairly straightforward but McDonald spilled under pressure and Page smashed home an equaliser.

To Stranraer’s credit, they held firm over the remaining five minutes plus stoppage time and ensured they left with at least a point ahead of a cup clash at Annan Athletic.

Stranraer: M McDonald, Williamson, Girvan, Ross, Gallagher (Robertson 47), Dolan (Walker 89), Forrest, Fleming, McIntosh, Armour, Orr (O McDonald 59).
Not used: Hughes and O’Connor.

East Fife: Fleming, Murdoch, Newton (Docherty 69), Page, Easton, Millar (McManus 69), Trouten, Nicol (Healy 53), Walls, Shepherd, Austin.
Not used: Philp, Comerford, Schiavone, Hambrook and Beveridge.

Referee: Ryan Lee
Attendance: 372
HT: 0-0

Photos: Bill McCandlish