Annan FC vs Stirling Albion
Stirling Albion kept their play off hopes alive with an important victory over in form Annan Athletic in a match that was made all the more difficult by a strong wind and it was the visitors who adapted to the conditions far better than Annan.
Playing with the wind in their favour in the first half it was Striling’s David Weatherston who netted the only goal of the half in the 36th minute when he connected with Phil Johnston’s low cross . It was the only bright spot in an otherwise dull half when Stirling did most of the pressing but they struggled to find a way past Annan’s resolute defence.
Annan started the second half with Scott Davidson being introduced for the injured Kenny MacKay and playing with the wind in their favour there was an expectation that Annans advantage would pay off. They came close to scoring in the 63rd minute when Swinglehurst’s effort hit the cross bar but almost immediately Stirling broke swiftly down the right and like the opening goal the creator was Phil Johnston who broke down the right and with the Annan defence caught in no mans land it was David Weatherston who had the simple task of slotting the ball past the stranded Kenny Arthur in the Annan goal to give Stirling a two goal cushion.
Annan’s efforts to trouble David Crawford were few and far between as they continually failed to cope with the strong wind but in the 72nd minute Martin McNiff came close with a shot from the edge of the box which flashed just over the bar. Annan boss Jim Chapman pushed on David Hopkirk and Kieran Brannon in the 75th minute and within a minute they were presented with a lifeline when they were awarded a penalty kick after David McClure was adjudged to have handled the ball . Blair Henderson dispatched the spot kick to give Annan a glimmer of hope of salvaging something from the game.
It took a superb tackle by Swinglehurst to deny Weatherston his hat trick in the 88th minute as the Stirling striker homed in on goal . Annan pushed forward as the game entered the final minutes but they failed to find a way past a resolute Stirling defence.
Greig McDonald the Stirling boss commented, “We dominated the first half and we knew what to expect in the second half, Annan threw everything at us but defensively we were superb dealing with Annan’s threat and we knew that there would be opportunities to catch Annan on the break and we caught them with a goal of superb quality, the goal created by Phil Johnstone and finshed by Peter Weatherston. We have been in this position for most of the season and we absolutely intend on staying here and if they keep playing like that there is no reason why we should not have another four games in the play off.
Annan boss Jim Chapman was bitterly disappointed that his team failed to secure the victory which would have seen them secure a play off place. “We fell well below the standards we have set this season , we need to regroup and respond again, we have been in this position before . We just did not play today ,we forced things too much and the key word today was responsibility , there was not enough players out there who took responsibility but it just shows how eager the players are to do well and unfortunately sometimes you need a cool head and a wee bit of experience to calm things down when it’s not working and we did not have that today.
Annan Athletic: K Arthur, I Chisholm, M McNiff, P Watson, S Swinglehurst, S Black, J Todd , A Mitchell ( K Brannon 75 min) , K MacKay (S Davidson 45 min) , B Henderson, , A Love ( D Hopkirk 75 min).
Subs (not used): P Bradley, J Moffat, A Mitchell, S Sloan.
Stirling Albion: D Crawford, M O’Byrne (R McGeachie 23 min),C Smith, D McClure, J Bishop,C Comrie, P Johnston , G Weir 67 ( R Forsyth 88 min), J White, D Weatherston ( K McAnespie 90 min), L Hamilton.
Subs (not used): M Ferry, D Fulton, C Redford, D Ashe.
Referee: G Ross Assistants: F Andrews and D Williams Crowd: 479