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Stranraer 0-3 Stenhousemuir

Stretched Stranraer went down to a home defeat against new league leaders Stenhousemuir.

Scott Agnew was missing four central midfielders in Grant Gallagher, Kyle Fleming, Scott Robertson and Dylan Forrest.

And the absence of Tom Orr added to his selection woes with the striker possibly to miss the rest of the year through a broken bone in his foot.

It meant starts for Blair Sneddon and Mackenzie Strachan as the Blues looked to continue their fine home form against the Warriors.

Despite those absences, Stranraer started on the front foot and James Dolan forced goalkeeper Darren Jamieson into action after just eight minutes.

James Dolan came close for Stranraer in the early going

The experienced goalkeeper pushed Dolan’s rising effort over the crossbar at the expense of a corner.

The visitors managed to scramble the ball clear from the resultant set piece but the bad news for Stranraer continued as Ben Armour was injured in trying to reach the ball.

The striker was stretchered off and taken to hospital with Deryn Lang brought into the game after just 11 minutes.

Worse was to follow for the Blues who found themselves behind on 15 minutes in controversial circumstances.

Adam Brown swung a free-kick into the box and goalkeeper Lewis Budinauckas and defender Craig Ross collided with the ball trickling over the line.

Lewis Budinauckas was bundled over after catching the ball

Matty Aitken wheeled away in celebration, despite protests from the home side that Ross had been pushed into his team-mate.

There was little between the two sides for much of the first half and Stranraer had the ball in the net on 33 minutes.

Dolan robbed Gregor Buchanan of the ball and exchanged passes with Lang, who tucked the ball home, only for the offside flag to be up against Dolan in the build up.

As the half time whistle approached, Stenhousemuir doubled their advantage.

The home defence failed to clear a long throw on the left and it fell to former Blue Matty Yates, whose volley into the ground crossed the line, despite the efforts of Cammy Williamson on the line.

Stranraer were winning a number of corners but, despite some good deliveries, they failed to work Jamieson in the visiting goal.

Stranraer were unable to mount a comeback

Instead, the match-clinching goal would come for Stenhousemuir 11 minutes after the restart.

Yates turned provider as he cut in from the left and found Ewan O’Reilly on the left.

Stenhousemuir had the numerical advantage but O’Reilly went it alone and fired across Budinauckas from the edge of the box.

There was no lack of effort from Stranraer over the closing stages but the only real effort on goal came from Sneddon.

The ball broke to the on loan Berwick Rangers man on the edge of the box and his crisp shot was touched over the bar by Jamieson.

In the end, it was reasonably comfortable for Stenhousemuir, who are looking for a season to remember.

Stranraer now turn their attention to a visit from Airdrie in the Scottish Cup as they look to cause a cup upset.

Stranraer: Budinauckas, Williamson, Girvan, Ross, McIntosh, Dolan, Hawkshaw (Walker 61), Strachan (McDonald 71), Grant, Armour (Lang 11), Sneddon.
Not used: Agnew and Downie.

Stenhousemuir: D Jamieson, Buchanan, N Jamieson, Bilham (Sweenie-Rowe 71), Lynch, Wedderburn (Meechan 82), Yates (Berry 76), Brown (McKay 82), O’Reilly (Taylor 71), Anderson, Aitken.
Not used: Lyle.

Referee: Ryan Lee
Attendance: 409
HT: 0-2

Photos: Bill McCandlish