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The Spartans preview

Captain Dylan Forrest has challenged his team-mates to go out and land the perfect early Christmas present.

Stranraer travel to The Spartans looking to make it four games undefeated after an impressive victory against Bonnyrigg Rose last weekend.

The Blues would move to within three points of the capital club with a victory and could edge into fifth place in the table.

Speaking minutes after the full time whistle following last weekend’s 3-1 win, Forrest said: “We were unbeaten in the last two but obviously it was just two points from the last two games.

“The gaffer said if we won then we were turning a corner and looking up the way instead of down.

“That’s us tied with Bonnyrigg in fifth so hopefully we can get a good result next week and keep looking up the way instead of down.

Manager Scott Agnew is urging his side to look up the table after Saturday’s win

“It was only a good point last week against Clyde if we got three against Bonnyrigg.

“If we had got none then it would not have been a good point.

“Next week is the same, it is only a good three points if you back it up the next week.”

Lee Currie’s own goal to give Stranraer the lead last weekend brought to an end an unwanted habit.

The Blues had conceded the first goal in each of the five games prior to Bonnyrigg’s visit with a Forrest penalty against Elgin City the last time they had broken the deadlock.

Forrest stressed the importance of getting on the scoresheet first in a game.

He said: “The first goal was massive today.

Paddy Martin stood no chance as Lee Currie’s attempted clearance looped into his own net

“It was a bit of a fluke with the boy scuffing it into his own net but that comes from us putting pressure on them.

“Although you can say it is lucky, it comes from us keeping them contained, putting pressure on them and balls into the box.

“That was massive because the last few games we have not started the best.”

Second half strikes from Matty Grant and Craig Ross put Stranraer firmly in the driving seat and a stoppage time consolation from Bradley Barrett took little of the shine off the fine result.

The Blues had found the New Dundas Park side a tough nut to crack last term, picking up just one point from a possible 12.

Now, after two meetings, Scott Agnew’s men have four points from a possible six.

Midfielder Forrest said: “We have been struggling a wee bit with Bonnyrigg.

“We had not beaten last season and this season we got a point up there earlier on.

“It was good to actually get three points against them; they were a bit of a bogey team against us.

Forrest led the team out in recent weeks

“It is good to get the monkey off our back.

“We played them four times last season and once this season and had not beaten them.

“We knew we felt confident coming into the game.

“I thought we did alright against Forfar and Clyde and played well in spells.

“Today, we started better and kept it going for the 90 minutes.”

Forrest, who made his 50th start for Stranraer last weekend, has been wearing the captain’s armband in the absence of Grant Gallagher and Sean McIntosh.

The stand-in skipper joked: “I’m like vice, vice, vice captain!

“It has been good.

“The gaffer says to just play my natural game and I am not going to act any different just because I am captain.

“It is just an armband at the end of the day so I will keep playing the way I do and hopefully the players can buzz off of that.”

Last meeting

It would be fair to say the first league encounter between Stranraer and The Spartans proved an eventful one back in October.

James Craigen had already hit the post for the visitors before Tom Orr slid home from close range after James Dolan’s drive across the box.

The Spartans launched a comeback though and turned the game on its head. First, Craigen’s free-kick flew beyond Lewis Budinauckas. Then, right on half time, the visitors countered and Rhys Armstrong rolled the ball under the goalkeeper.

Jordan Tapping made it 3-1 from close range but Stranraer then launched a comeback of their own. James Dolan’s speculative effort from the left flew into the net and then substitute Deryn Lang levelled when he coolly finished under Jacques Herraghty.

However, there would be one last twist when Bradley Whyte squared the ball to Blair Henderson to fire home.

Stranraer: Budinauckas, Robertson, Williamson (Lang 59), Ross, McIntosh, Dolan (O McDonald 81), Forrest, Fleming, Armour, Orr, Sneddon.
Not used: Walker, Strachan, Agnew and M McDonald.

The Spartans: Herraghty, Watson (Allan 60), Waugh, Tapping (Morrison 69), Sonkur, Denholm (Dishington 69), Armstrong (Jones 89), Craigen, Whyte, Henderson, Russell.
Not used: Newman, Brown and Meek.

All meetings

  • Stranraer 3 The Spartans 4 (Orr, Dolan and Lang; Craigen, Armstrong, Tapping and Henderson) at Stair Park on October 7, 2023
  • Stranraer 5 The Spartans 0 (Duffy, Paton, Cummins and Yates x2) at Stair Park on December 26, 2020
  • Stranraer 7 The Spartans 1 (Malcolm x4, McGuigan (Pen), Gibson and Turner; Malone) at Stair Park on August 16, 2016

Last five games

Both sides are undefeated in their last three games


  • WIN v Bonnyrigg Rose (H): 3-1 (Own goal, Grant and Ross)
  • DRAW v Clyde (A): 2-2 (Ross and Dolan)
  • DRAW v Forfar Athletic (A): 1-1 (McDonald)
  • LOSS v Airdrieonians (H): 0-1
  • LOSS v Stenhousemuir (H): 0-3

The Spartans

  • WIN v Elgin City (A): 0-4 (Henderson x3 (Pen x1) and Russell)
  • WIN v Forfar Athletic (H): 1-0 (Henderson)
  • WIN v Arbroath (H): 2-1 (Craigen and Dishington)
  • LOSS v Peterhead (H): 1-2 (Russell)
  • LOSS v Stenhousemuir (A): 3-2 (Whyte and Henderson)

Last time out

The Blues got back to winning ways last weekend


Lineup v Bonnyrigg Rose: Budinauckas, Robertson, Williamson, Girvan, Ross, Dolan (Sneddon 83), Hawkshaw (Strachan 87), Forrest, Fleming, Grant (Walker 87), Lang (McDonald 79).
Not used: Downie.

The Spartans

Lineup v Elgin City: Carswell (Herraghty 73), Watson, Waugh, Tapping, Sonkur, Dishington, Armstrong (Denholm 60), Craigen (Jones 73), Whyte, Henderson (Brown 81), Russell (Newman 81).
Not used: Morrison and Mwangi.

Five facts

Popular former Blues defender Ayrton Sonkur now turns out for The Spartans

1. The three meetings of Stranraer and The Spartans – all at Stair Park – have generated a minimum of five goals.

2. Former Stranraer defender Ayrton Sonkur could line up at the heart of the Edinburgh club’s defence. Sonkur, who joined from Annan Athletic, played 57 times for the Blues before joining Albion Rovers. He also scored four goals for Stranraer.

3. Another man who played for both Stranraer and Albion Rovers was Tommy Walker. The frontman, who also played for Ayr United and Dumbarton, turns 59 tomorrow (Saturday) and scored more than dozen goals for the Blues between 1993 and 1996.

4. Tomorrow marks the first time Stranraer have played The Spartans away from home but not the first time they have played at Ainslie Park. The Blues played Edinburgh City at the ground on four occasions, with two wins and two defeats. The last meeting was March 18 last year when the Blues won 2-1 thanks to goals from Craig Ross and Sean Burns. Anthony McDonald pulled one back for the hosts. Stranraer lined up: Scullion, Burns, Sonkur, Ross, McIntosh, Brady, Gallagher, Woods (Hilton 85), Hawkshaw (Walker 80), Muir (Mullen 89), Watson (Yates 80). Not used: Robertson, Ellis, Smith and Baker.

5. Twelve months ago to the day, Stranraer travelled to Bonnyrigg for a Friday night contest. An eventful game saw the Midlothian men win 3-2, thanks to goals from Ross Gray, Kieran Mitchell and a Neil Martyniuk penalty. The spot kick came after Luke Scullion was stretchered off and saw George O’Connor come on. Josh Walker and Luke Watt scored for Stranraer on the night.

Photos: Bill McCandlish