Annan vs Stirling Albion
Annan Athletic trailing 3-1 from the first leg failed to overturn the deficit in the second play off match at Galabank on Saturday afternoon. Annan needing to score the first goal to have any chance of winning the tie found themselves a goal down in 9 min and from here on in they were always up against it.
Annan started superbly and in the opening 5 minutes both Hopkirk and MacKay were presented with scoring opportunities. Annan had strong claims for a penalty kick dismissed in the 7th minute all before Stirling scored in their real first attack when Phil Johnston managed to make the space wide on the right to send in a low cross to the heart of the Annan defence who failed to deal with the cross and the ball fell kindly for David McClune who slotted the ball into the goal from 6 yards for a simple goal.
Annan responded in the 18th minute when Ally Love sent in an inviting ball from the left but MacKay’s shot did not test Crawford in the Stirling goal. With 20 minutes on the clock Annan created a good opportunity with Todd and Love combining with Love’s shot flying past the upright. Albion then struck again in the 22nd minute when once again Johnston was the tormentor when he made space down the right and his low inviting cross was prodded into the goal by Jordan White. It was a cruel blow to Annan, but they continued to take the game to Stirling and when MacKay’s 29th minute effort struck the cross bar it appeared that it just was not to be Annan’s day. As the match edged towards half time Annan at last got the goal that their play merited but it was a rather soft goal when Mitchell’s free kick was headed into the net by Martin McNiff with Keeper Crawford somehow failing to save the header but the goal gave Annan hope for the second half.
Annan started the second half once again taking the game to Stirling and in the 50th minute they got their first real break in the match when the referee failed to pick up a hand ball from Mackay and Ally Love gave the expectant Annan crowd hope when he collected Kenny MacKay’s through ball to finish with a low shot from 12 yards to square the game. Then within a minute Annan’s hopes were dealt a severe blow when Martin McNiff was sent off for a second yellow card and within 5 minutes Stirling were back in front when Craig Comrie was quick to react to prod the ball into the corner of the net after Arthur pulled off an instinctive save to deny Jordan White’s net bound shot.
It proved to be a crucial goal and Annan boss Jim Chapman sensing the game was beyond the reach of his team sent on all his substitutes in an effort to give Annan a lift but his 10 man team found it difficult to contain the confident Stirling side and with 79 minutes on the clock Stirling struck again when Jordan White’s well struck shot from the edge of the box nestled in the corner of the net and 3 minutes later the Stirling striker secured his hat trick when he nipped in at the back post to slide the ball into the net.
As the game entered injury time Scott Davidson scored a consolation goal for Annan when he finished clinically .
Stirling Albion’s prize is now a place in the final against East Fife who secured their place in the final courtesy of a Penalty shoot out against Clyde.
Annan Athletic – K Arthur, I Chisholm, M McNiff , S Swinglehurts, P Watson (C Jardine 68 min), S Sloan (S Davidson 72 min), J Todd ( B Henderson 72 min), A Mitchell, K MacKay , D Hopkirk , A Love . Substitutes Not used S Black, K Brannan, D Orsi, A Mitchell
Annan goals – M McNiff 40 min, A Love 50 min, S Davidson 90 min.
Stirling Albion: D Crawford, L Hamilton ,R Forsyth,, D McClune, C Smith, D Smith , P Johnston ( R McGeachie 36 min) ,C Comrie (D Fulton 70 min), J White, G Weir , D Weatherston (M Ferry 80 min).
Subs not used: S Cunningham, J Bishop, D Ashe, C Redford.
Stirling goals –D McClune 9 min, J White 22min, 79min,82 min, C Comrie 56 min.
Referee: George Salmond . Assistants : John McCrossan and Stuart MacMillan Crowd: 912