Annan Athletic v Stirling Albion
Match report by David Hastie
Annan Athletic continued their miserable home form, going down 2-1 to playoff hopefuls Stirling Albion. The hosts madetwo changes from their midweek foray to the Capital, with Iain Anderson and Nathan Flanagan being replaced by Max Wright and Pollock loanee Darren Christie, who impressed as subs on Tuesday.
Following a minute silence in respect for the passing of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, Stirling kicked us off, and it was the Galabankies who started the brighter of the two teams, with Owen Moxon driving into the Binos box, with his efforts being rewarded by a corner. Wallace whipped the corner right across the front of goal, but there was no one there to knock the ball home.
The visitors drove back however, with Ross McGeachie latching on to a poor pass by Annan’s Christie. He found Dylan Mackin, whose cross was deflected back to the Stirling captain, who subsequently passed inside to Andy Ryan, but his blocked shot was no trouble for Alex Mitchell.
But the Bino’s kept on working, and were rewarded on 18 minutes, when Andy Ryan found himself in possession on the left-hand side of the box. Cutting inside, he fired low, with the ball squirming under keeper Mitchell, with Dylan Mackin on hand for a classic poacher’s effort from 1 yard out.
The goal seemed to shake the Black and Golds, and Stirling Albion very quickly took to dominating the ball, with littleaction taking place in their half. There was a scare mid-way through the half when Matthew Douglas headed the ball back to Mitchell, however he misjudged the pace and had the keeper scrambling to see it wide of the right post for an Albion corner.
Stirling were piling on the pressure and would find themselves wondering how they never doubled their lead, with Kurtis Roberts linking well with McGeachie, who’s low driven cross was begging to be tapped home, however it managed to evade everyone and out for a goal-kick.
The home side did start to grow into the match, however failed to seize their chances in what appears to be the story of the season for the Galabankies. Tony Wallace managed to intercept a stray Stirling path in midfield and driving forward and with the luck of the bounce, found himself one on one with former Annan man Blair Currie. It was the keeper who was to come out on top, making a nice save to deny the midfielder making it two goals in two games.
Wonderful link up play between Jordan Lowden and Aidan Smith on the left-hand side then found Darren Christie in the box, but his shot did not trouble Currie.
Tony Wallace, who was showing great influence in the middle of the park, turned creator, getting the ball on the right wing, stepping inside before launching the ball into the box, but it was just inches away from the rushing Owen Moxon who could not get his head on it.
Half Time – Annan Athletic 0-1 Stirling Albion
Annan came out flying for the second half and were unlucky within one minute of the whistle not to have a chance to level the scoring. A trademark Lewis Hunter long throw fell to Aidan Smith after an aerial battle in the box, and just as Smith pulled his leg back to shoot, the referee blew his whistle for a head knock to Jordan McGregor. There was then confusion, as the referee decided to give the ball to Bino’s keeper Blair Currie, despite Annan being in possession when the whistle was blown.
The visitors started pushing on, with Scott Roberts capitalising on a poor Ryan Sinnamon header, however his cross was headed clear by Hunter.
Stirling’s persistence paid off on 55 minutes, with Dylan Mackin knocking down a lofted ball to Kurtis Roberts. His clever back heel found Andy Ryan, whose quick feet drew Owen Moxon into a foul, and the referee had no choice but to point to the penalty spot. It was Ryan himself who stepped up, confidently stroking the ball into the bottom right-handcorner, leaving Mitchell with no chance.
Annan upped the pressure and would pull one back on the hour mark. Owen Moxon’s lofted corner found Max Wright at the back post, who took two bites of the apple to finally nod the ball home to half the deficit.
The Bino’s heeded the warnings and started to slow the game down, frustrating the hosts. In a bid to get the leveller, Annan manager Peter Murphy looked to his bench, bringing on Nathan Flanagan for Darren Christie, hoping to be the drive and pace down the right the team were lacking.
But it was Stirling who almost put the game out of sight, with a lovely one-two in the middle of the park between Jack Leitch and Andy Ryan teeing up the latter to smash a 35-yardeffort narrowly wide to the right of a relieved Mitchell.
Flanagan was to have an impact, receiving the ball in the centre of the Stirling half, driving forward against the Bino’s defence, but there were no takers for his cross, which flashed dangerously across the face of the goal.
Despite the foot being taken off the pedal, the away side were still dangerous on the counterattack, with Dylan Mackin in particular proving to be a real handful for the defenders andfinding himself unmarked and no pressure on the ball time and time again. He managed to find the feet of Jordan Allan, whose driven pass inside appeared to be cleared away from the waiting Andy Ryan, but the referee pointed for a goal kick, much to the bewilderment of the away bench.
The Black and Golds were becoming increasingly frustrated with Albion’s tactics to see out the game, with Tony Wallace picking up a yellow card for dissent 2 minutes before time. The visitors were persistently time wasting, taking the ball to the corner, much to the dismay of Annan.
And it was to go from bad to worse in bizarre circumstances for the hosts two minutes into extra time. After being awarded a free kick, Tony Wallace attempted the quick free kick, however was blocked by a Stirling player as he went to kick the ball. This resulted in Wallace kicking the player, picking up a second yellow card and seeing red, in what was to be one of the final actions of the game, proving to be the cherry on top of a miserable day for the Galabankies.
Annan Athletic – A. Mitchell, R. Sinnamon, C. Clark, O. Moxon, M. Douglas (M. Docherty 83), L. Hunter, T. Wallace, J. Lowden, A. Smith, M. Wright (I. Anderson 83), D. Christie (N. Flanagan 64)
Subs not used – B. Kinnear, R. Love, K. Fleming, D. Watson, A. McCaw, R. Currie
Stirling Albion – B. Currie, R. McGeachie, C. Eadie, K. Banner, J. McGregor, K. Roberts (J. Kirkpatrick 86), A. Ryan, D. Wilson, D. Mackin (D. Byrne 86), J. Leitch (J. Allan 75), S. Roberts (C. Hamilton 75)
Subs not used – D. Docherty, D. Bikey, C. Binnie, K. Moore, S. Heaver