Stenhousemuir FC vs Annan Athletic FC
Kieran Brannan was the toast of the black and gold army when he scored a dramatic late equaliser to earn Annan a well deserved replay in the William Hill Scottish Cup. Annan were only minutes away from exiting the Cup when manager Jim Chapman went for broke bringing on Brannan and Scott Davidson and the bold move aimed at all out attack reaped dividends for him when Brannan nipped in to connect with David Hopkirk’s inviting cross to earn Annan a replay at Galabank on Tuesday 12th November.
The hosts started on the front foot with a couple of shots in the first ten minutes but without really troubling Kenny Arthur in goal. Annan carved an opening in the 11th minute Annan when David Hopkirk slipped the ball into the path of Kenny MacKay and it took an important save from Chris Smith to avert a potentially dangerous situation. McNiff tried his luck with an effort from the edge of the box in the 13th minute but the shot was easily saved by Smith. It was a promising start for Annan and Andrew Mitchell’s 17th minute free kick was perfectly flighted into the path of Peter Watson but his headed effort went high and wide. Annan’s persistence paid dividends in the 25th minute when they went ahead after Hopkirk’s initial shot was saved by Chris Smith but Martin McNiff following up drove the ball home with a crisp left footed shot. After a subdued start Stenhousemuir started to give their fans something to shout about forcing a couple of corner kicks and in the 30th minute Annan conceded a free kick on the edge of the D and from the resulting free kick Eddie Malone’s effort cannoned off the base of the post. As the game edged towards half time Annan were forced to defend deep but they looked comfortable. Arthur pulled off an important save in the 38th minute to deny Douglas.
After a disappointing first half the home side started the second half in a more positive and determined fashion and in the 50th minute they were rewarded. It was a simple goal in the making when the ball got played out wide to left and Darren Smith cut in leaving Watson in his wake ending with a pass to Errol Douglas who scored with a low shot into the corner of the net. It was just the tonic that the home team needed and in the 58th minute Annan found themselves behind for the first time. John Gemmell picked the ball up in the middle of the Annan half and he finished a short run with an unstoppable 20 yarder into the top corner of the net to give Arthur absolutely no chance. Stenhousemuir were very much on the ascendancy at this stage of the match but Annan defended resolutely. Gemmell who had been relatively quiet all afternoon apart from his glorious strike set up Douglas in the 68th minute but the shot failed to hit the target. In an effort to turn around Annan’s fortunes Josh Todd was introduced in the 69th minute as Annan placed more emphasis on attack and gradually Annan started to get a foothold back in the game and in the 77th minute Annan carved open a good chance when Kenny MacKay made a great run along the bye line finishing with an inviting ball across the face of the goal where Martin McNiff was denied by a superb interception by McMillan. Todd set up Love with a chance in the 81st minute. Weatherson was pushed into attack as Annan went for broke. Love’s effort went close and Swinglehurst’s header from a Love free- kick went narrowly past. Davidson and Brannan were introduced in a last desperate effort and as the game entered the dying minutes Annan struck gold. Annan continued to turn the screw and Hopkirk a constant threat all afternoon was at the heart of the move which paid dividends when he finished a superb run down the left picking out Brannan with an inviting cross and Brannan didn’t disappoint prodding the ball over the line to square the game. The goal gave Annan the initiative and playing with 2 at the back they went for broke but had to be content with a replay.
Warriors boss Martyn Corrigan commented. “We didn’t create a lot of chances particularly in the first half. Annan made it difficult for us sitting in and we could not break them down. I was pleased for Errol Douglas he has bided his time, it was his first start for us this season and he scored a good goal. He will go from strength to strength. It is a trip down to Annan for us in the replay. It’s a good surface and we will plan ahead for the match”.
Annan boss Jim Chapman was once again very critical of his teams defending. “We are so naive at times, the players must understand there are times when to play football, times when to keep the ball, times to turn things and times to be ugly by just clearing the ball. We almost threw it away today, that is the way I saw it. We got punished through slack naive defending and if we go on defending like that it will be a long tough season, I won’t put up with it for much longer”.
Annan’s goal scorer Kieran Brannan praised the Manager. “The gaffer went for it, he would rather lose 3-1 than 2-1 so full marks to him, I was just glad to come on and keep the boys in the cup. We can give it a good go at home we know what to expect, this is a great bunch of lads. I played with the gaffer at Dumbarton and he gave me a second chance at senior level, my confidence was boosted after my performance at Raith Rovers and just hope my performances catches the eye of the manager”.
Stenhousemuir – C Smith, N Devlin, K McKinlay, E Malone, R McMillan, S Lynch, S Dickson, B Ferguson, J Gemmell, E Douglas (J Watt 72 min), D Smith, Substitutes not used R McNeil, R Smith, R Brash.
Annan Athletic – K Arthur, S Sloan ( J Todd 69 min) , M McNiff , A Mitchell, P Watson, S Swinglehurst, K MacKay ,C Jardine (S Davidson 86 min), P Weatherson, D Hopkirk, A Love ( K Brannan 86 min). Substitutes not used G Anderson, P Bradley, M Flynn, A Mitchell.
Referee – G Aitken. Assistants – A Ross and A Macfadyen. Crowd 338