Stirling Albion FC vs Annan Athletic FC
Annan Athletic’s chances of making the play offs were dealt a severe blow at Forthbank on Saturday after fellow play off candidates Stirling Albion inflicted a convincing three goal victory on Annan courtesy of 3 second half goals.
Annan manager Peter Murphy had a full sqaud at his disposal with Ryan Sinnamon, Owen Moxon returning back from injury and Rabin Omar and Blair Henderson back from their one match suspension so it was more or less the strongest Annan team which was presented with the opportunity of winning this match. Stirling Albion were unchanged following their previous victory at Cowdenbeath with Steven Noble and Sean Dickson returning to their squad.
Stirling however bossed the match with Ex Clyde forward Peter MacDonald scoring twice for the second game in a row for the Binos as they cruised to victory against Annan to stay third in Ladbrokes League 2 and still in with a good chance of making the play offs. Defender Ross McGeachie was also on target for the home team as they opened up a gap of five points over fifth-placed Elgin City with their fourth victory on the trot. This was a dominant display by the home team and the emphatic margin of victory was justified against an Annan side who have now lost on their last seven visits to Forthbank.
Albion forced much of the play in the first half but they couldn’t make the breakthrough. MacDonald came close in the 27th minute when his 25-yard free-kick cannoned off the bar and on-loan St Johnstone midfielder Danny Jardine was denied by a brave Alex Mitchell save after Jardine was put through on goal. As the match approached the interval Willie Robertson’s shot from the edge of the box rifled over the bar.
It was a different story in the second period the home team had keeper Cammy Binnie to thank when he made an important save to deny Scott Robers. Stirling went ahead when Ross McGeachie headed home Macdonalds corner kick in the 56th minute despite an attempt by Scott Hooper to stop the ball crossing the line. Peter MacDonald then grabbed the second goal midway through the second half from the penalty spot after indecision between Hooper and Mitchell allowed Ross Kavanagh to gain an advantage forcing Hooper to make a last ditch challenge forcing the referee to award a penalty. Maccdonald’s spot-kick was saved by Alex Mitchell but the Stirling striker following up slammed the rebound high into the net. The third goal in the 78th minute was as good a goal as you would see anywhere when Darren Smith was sent clear on the right and his low cross was perfectly placed for MacDonald who’s first-time shot flew into the bottom corner for his ninth goal of the season.
Annan almost got one back late on but sub Ben Armour fired over from close range as their disappointing recent run was extended to one win in seven matches.
Dave Mackay the Stirling boss said: “We’re on a good little run. There were a lot of pleasing things about the performance – there are still a few bits and pieces we can tidy up but that will come. We didn’t do things quickly enough in the first half but the second half was much better.
“That’s four wins in a row now which is pleasing because that was a real problem for us earlier in the season. It’s a tough game next week against Clyde, who are also flying, so we are looking forward to that one.”
Annan manager Peter Murphy said: “Stirling put us under pressure and asked questions of us but we have contributed to our own downfall with some of our defending. Stirling played well, but we allowed them to play well and that’s the disappointing thing.
“We’ve had a few injuries recently and we have brought players in so there has been a bit of disruption to a settled team but we have to turn it round quickly because we have games coming up against Peterhead, Stenny and Montrose.”
STIRLING ALBION – Cameron Binnie (GK), Ross McGeachie, Lee Hamilton, Ewan McNeil, Darren Barr, Kevin Moon ( Andrew Black 77 min), Daniel Jardine, Peter MacDonald, Darren Smith, Ross Kavanagh ( Neil McLauchlin 73 min), Willie Robertson. SUBS NOT USED- Kyle Banner, Ross Smith , Steven Noble, Liam Caddis , Sean Dickson.
ANNAN ATHLETIC- Alex Mitchell (GK), Scott Hooper, Jack Brannan, Jamie Henry, Peter Watson, Steven Swinglehurst, Rabin Omar ( Owen Moxon 77 min), Ryan Sinnamon (Evan Horne 77 min), Aidan Smith, Blair Henderson, Scott Roberts (Ben Armour 64 min). SUBS NOT USED- Ayrton Sonkur, James Creaniw, Cameron Salkeld, Conor O’Keefe
Referee- Kevin Graham , Assistants – Gavin Harris and Blair Fraser
Attendance – 648
It was a day when there was no change at the top of the table with Montrose coming back twice to earn a 2-2 draw against Elgin City. Peterhead had to rely on a Rory McCallister penalty to earn a point against Berwick Rangers. Stenhousemuir maintained their challenge for one of the play off places with a single goal victory over Edinburgh City. A double from David Goodwillie earned Clyde their 5th win in a row when they defeated Cowdenbeath 2-0 .
Annan play Title contenders Peterhead at Galabank on Tuesday 20th ko 7-45pm in a match that is important to both teams for different reasons, Peterhead are stuttering at the moment and need to secure the victory which can get their title challenge back on track and for Annan they must put a halt to their recent slump.