Annan Athletic vs Stirling Albion
Galabank enjoys an action packed 8 goal thriller
This top of the table clash did not disappoint as it was a match that had the fans on their seats deep into injury time and the eight goal thriller for sheer entertainment and excitement was not to be missed. Stirling Albion went behind three times but they displayed great resilience to take the lead in the 72nd minute for the first time only for the three points to be diluted to one point when Annan struck at the death to convert a penalty in the third minute of added time.
Annan got off to a flier when Scott Davidson’s second minute low angular shot from 15 yards beat Callum Reidfield at the near post. Dale Fulton tested Alex Mitchell in the 8th minute when Mitchell turned the ball round the post for a corner. Stirling equalised in the 11th minute when Danny Ashe cut in from the left but a rash challenge on the edge of the box by Todd resulted in a free kick. Kieran McAnespie took the free kick and his shot went straight into the corner of the net past the Annan wall and keeper Mitchell. Moments later Annan lost David Hopkirk when a cynical challenge by David McClunie earned him a yellow card but Annan lost the services of the influential Hopkirk with a suspected broken bone in his foot. Stirling started to get a foothold in the game and Sandy Cunningham came close with an effort in the 18th minute. Andrew Mitchells 27th minute free kick was tipped over the bar and from the resulting corner the Stirling goal survived a scare when Sloan’s header was cleared off the line followed by a block on Davidson’s net-bound shot. Josh Todd squandered an inviting opportunity when he shot over from a Kenny MacKay cut back but Annan’s pressure eventually paid dividends in the 37th minute with a well constructed move down the left ending when Davidson rolling the ball into the path of Andrew Mitchell and his low shot found the corner of the net wrong footing the Stirling keeper.
Albion made a change at the start of the second half bringing on Weatherston for the out of touch Mark Ferry and within 7 minutes the visitors squared the game when Cunningham was released down the right and he made use of the space by homing in on the goal and finishing with delightfully past the advancing Alex Mitchell. Todd’s 64th minute effort tested Reidfield. Annan went ahead in the 65th minute when Scott Davidson was brought down on the edge of the box by Forsyth and Andrew Mitchell’s well struck free kick was parried by the keeper but Kenny MacKay following up was at hand to knock the rebound into the empty net. Annan’s lead lasted all of 5 minutes when Jordan White connected with a near post McAnespie corner to head the ball into the net from close range. Moments later and Annan went behind for the first time in the match when following an almost identical corner Ross Forsyth’s near post header found the corner of the net. The game not surprisingly had one final twist when deep into injury time substitute Graham Weir’s challenge on Watson was deemed to be dangerous play and Annan were awarded a penalty kick. Ally Love had the pressure of taking the spot kick but he showed good nerve and composure to slot the ball into the net to earn Annan a draw in a fascinating encounter between two teams who appear to be mounting a challenge at the top of the most competitive league in the country.
Annan boss Jim Chapman commented, “ We take the lead 3 times and you end up fighting to get a point. That sums up Annan, we score four goals at home and don’t win the game. We lost 3 goals at set pieces, don’t do our jobs right defensively and we get punished. It’s a learning curve but we need to learn quicker, I am repeating myself here almost weekly and it is leading to frustrations but we must take the positives out of the game, we got off the canvas at the end of the game and we fully deserved a point. “
Bino’s Boss Greig McDonald commented “ We should be talking about a great game here , my team comes back three times the free kick. For the 3rd goal, Ross Forsyth clearly wins the ball the decision and at the end when we should have a free kick before it after the boy jumps into Ross Forsyth, Graham Weir clears his lines the boy sticks his head down. I don’t think that decision would be given in the middle of the park let alone to give it in the last minute, let alone to give it in the box it is very difficult to take. We need to take the positives out of the game we were behind three times and had the character to go in front I was delighted for my players magnificent effort. it was a great spectacle for the fans,four all and defensives on top. If the players keep showing that level of effort and determination I am sure we will have more 3 points as a point.”
Annan Athletic: A Mitchell, S Sloan, M McNiff, A Mitchell ,P Watson, S Sloan, S Swinglehurst, J Todd (K Brannon 76 min), C Jardine (M Flynn 69 min), S Davidson, D Hopkirk(K MacKay 12 min), A Love.
Subs (not used): G Anderson ,S Black, P Bradley, G Black (GK)
Stirling Albion: C Reidfield, D McClune, D Ashe, R Forsyth, J Bishop, K McAnespie , P Johnston , D Fulton (G Weir 67 min), J White, S Cunningham (B Coyne 89 min), M Ferry (D Weatherston 45 min).
Subs (not used): R McGeachie, J Clark, S Day, D Crawford (GK).
Referee: G Duncan. Assistants J Dawson and C Smith