Annan Athletic’s first competitive encounter on the newly
formed synthetic pitch at Galabank turned out to be a successful experience for the new look team that manager
Harry Cairney has pulled together in an effort to make a challenge for the Irn
Bru Third Division Title. There were no fewer than 8 new Annan players on show who
participated in a match where they had to dig deep to overcome the challenge of
Livingston, who despite having the lions
share of play could not penetrate a resolute Annan defence . It took a special
goal to decide the tie and it came in the 75th minute. The build up
to the goal was patient and when the ball broke to Graeme Bell 20 yards out the
Annan striker hit a screamer low and into the corner of the net past the
outstretched arm of Andrew McNeil.
Both teams settled early but it was Livingston who looked the
team most likely to break the stalemate, with 20 minutes on the clock Annan had
keeper Alex Mitchell to thanks for a brilliant double save when he denied Bobby
Barr and Marc McNulty. Livingston pressed hard for the breakthrough and
substitute Iain Russell who was introduced for the injured Keagan Jacobs after
only 24th minutes was only on the field for minutes when he was
denied a certain goal by a superb challenge from Jonny Blake who managed to
avert a potentially dangerous situation when Kevin McCann whipped in a low
cross to the back post.
Athletic to their credit continued to play some good football
and Graham Ramage delivered an inviting 28th minute corner which was scrambled
clear for another corner and minutes later Ramage struck a free kick to he
heart of Livingston defence and Swinglehust who had drifted in behind everybody
only just failed to connect.
Jordyn Morton headed over in the 38th minute and
as half time approached Annan had Jordyn McKechnie and Jonny Blake booked as
the home team stuck to their task of containing Livingston.
Livingston soon settled down at the start of the second half
but once again the Annan defence were proving impregnable and shots from Bobby
Barr and Jordan Morton sailed over the bar. Mitchell then pulled off a point blank save to
deny Marc McNulty in the 64th minute. Jordyn Morton received a
yellow for an off the ball infringement in the 67th minute.
The defining goal arrived in the 75th minute and
it was a well worked goal culminating in a stunning 20 yard strike from striker
Graeme Bell who once again delivered when it mattered to repay the faith that
manager Harry Cairney has for the player.
Livingston pushed hard for an equaliser and with only minutes
remaining Iain Russell had a chance to square the game when he just failed to
connect with a Kevin McCann cross.
Annan boss Harry Cairney said, “it was great that we won in
our first game on the new pitch with so many new players, it will help them
settle in. Livi had a lot of possession but didn’t hurt us too much. The 14
players involved today deserve massive credit. We’ve got the makings of a very
good team here and to achieve victory over a first division side was a credit
to the players”.
Livi boss John Hughes who handed competitive debuts to ex
Hearts player Jordan Morton and French midfielder Tony Andreu said, “We created
enough chances but didn’t play great, Annan
were organised, resolute and worked hard”.B