Annan Athletic v Stirling Albion
Annan Athletic and Stirling Albion had to be content with a share of the points in a no scoring draw at a sun drenched Galabank last Saturday.
Annan returned to the action following their mauling at the hands of Edinburgh City the previous week. Annan boss Peter Murphy’s selection was hampered by injuries to Ayrton Sonkur and Steven Swinglehurst and with Christian Nade unavailable up front it was a much changed team which started against Stirling Albion who have not made the best of starts to the season but they were fresh off the back of a fine victory against Elgin City last week and Manager Kevin Rutchiewicz for once had a full strength team to pick from.
Both teams put a lot of effort into the game but unfortunately for the spectators there were no goals to cheer, plenty of effort but little sparkle up front. Annan started promisingly and in the opening minutes Blair Curries two footed challenge on Tommy Muir could have been costly for the visitors.
Dylan Bikey made a dangerous run into the penalty box in the 12th minute but instead of squaring the ball Bikey shot from an impossible angle into the side netting. It was however Bikey who secured the first real opening of the match in the 24th minute when he lured Kyle Bradley into a rash challenge on the bye line and the referee had no option but to award a penalty to Stirling. Fortunately for Annan, Stirling’s Dylan Mackin’s poor effort from the spot was dragged wide of the target. It was an opportunity lost for the visitors.
At the other end Annan won a free kick when Tommy Muir was fouled 24 yards out but Scott McLean’s free kick was brilliantly tipped round the post by Blair Currie. Annan were enjoying their best period in the match and Scott McLean tried his luck with a well struck shot in the 37th minute which was brilliantly blocked .
Annan had a real let off at the start of the second half when their trialist Goalkeeper failed to deal with a cross ball with Darryl Duffy blasting over the bar. Stirlings promising start to the half continued when Cameron Thomson ended a promising move down the left but his final hit the side netting.
It was a special moment for Annan youngster Harry Emmerson who made his debut for the Galabankies replacing Broque Watson in the 57th minute. In the 65th minute Bikey and Walker clashed in front of the dug out with Walker receiving a yellow card for the challenge.
Bikey looked lively all afternoon but the Stirling wide man was booked in the 72nd minute for a rash challenge on Walker who was replaced by Ballantyne a minute later. Emerson sent in an inviting cross in the 80th minute. Darren Barr’s header almost broke the deadlock in the 86th minute with the effort going narrowly past the upright.
Then at the other end Kyle Bradley put his body on the line to block Max Wrights net bound shot. Stirling were pressing hard in the final minutes with shots form Paul McLean and substitute Lewis Hawk’s effort being confidently saved by the trialist keeper.
Annan boss Peter Murphy commented “ Stirling missed a penalty and they’ll probably think they should have won. They had a chance near the end where Kyle Bradley threw his body on the line which I thought was great defending. We need to get through this tough period of matches and come out the other end stronger. We had two 18 year old lads who came off the bench today, I’m delighted for them and pleased to get a result. “
ANNAN ATHLETIC – Trialist, Matty Douglas, Jamie Walker (Jamie Ballantyne 70 min ) Kyle Bradley, Darren Barr, Jordan Holt, Scott McLean, Kyle Wilkie, Tommy Muir (Russell Currie 83 min), Lewis McLear , Broque Watson ( Harry Emerson 56 min ) , Subs not used – Aaron Taylor, Euan Grifiths, .
STIRLING ALBION – Blair Currie, Paul McLean, James Creaney, Dylan Nguene Bikey, Ross McGeachie, Jordan McGregor, Danny Jardine, Cameron Thomson, Darryl Duffie ( Max Wright 80 min ), David Wilson ( Kevin Nicoll 84 min ), Dylan Mackin ( Lewis Hawke 59 min ). Subs not used Craig Truesdale, Jordan Lowdan, Domnic Docherty, Cameron Binnie GK.
Referee. Chris Graham, Assistants – Ivan Stankovic and Paul Timmons.
Cove Rangers are still unbeaten following a 2-0 victory over Elgin goals in the 3rd and 87th minutes secured the points for the title favourites, Edinburgh City maintained their push at the top with a 3-1 victory over Albion Rovers. Cowdenbeath maintained their position in 3rd place with a convincing 3-0 victory over Queens Park at Hamden. Finally Brechin City lost to a 68th minute goal when David Hopkirk secured the points for Stenhousemuir. Next Saturday Annan face the long trip to Aberdeen to play Cove Rangers.