Stirling Albion v Annan Athletic
Stirling lifted all the points to push them right back in contention for the play offs in a match which never reached any great heights for the expectant home crowd and although there were three goals scored they were all the result of poor defending.
Annan boss Peter Murphy went with the same team which defeated Elgin City the previous week so there was no starting positions for Aidan McAdams and Lewis Strapp, Annan’s most recent loanees. It also meant that Chris Johnston and Tony Wallace were also on the bench as the Annan manager stuck by the team selection from the previous week. Stirling Boss Kevin Rutkiewicz included his recent signings Jordan McGregor and Max Ashmore on the bench with Ashmore making his debut from the bench in the 70th minute.
Annan started brightly and won a free kick in the 6th minute 22 yards out after Muir was upended but David Wilson’s effort never tested keeper Callum Ferrie with the ball going high and wide. Stirling won the first corner of the match in the 10th minute with Mitchell punching the cross clear. The Annan keeper was then quick off his line to deprive Peter MacDonald a scoring opportunity.
The prolific scorer however opened the account in the 20th minute when Danny Jardine’s low cross to the centre of the Annan defence found MacDonald surrounded by a host of Annan defenders but it was the striker who managed to get his shot away from 12 yards into the centre of the net.
MacDonald then almost doubled his account in the 30th minute when his header from a Hughes free kick crashed off the top of the cross bar. It was a lucky escape for Annan but minutes later Macdonald was given a yellow card before Annan equalised.
It was indeed a fortunate goal for Annan after Aidan Smith stole the ball from Jordan Whyte to finish with a right footed effort which was saved by Callum Ferrie only for the ball to fall invitingly for Tommy Muir who slotted the ball into the centre of the empty net.
Annan finished the half on the attack forcing a Ryan Sinnamon free kick which was defended, this was immediately followed up with a corner after David Wilson’s effort was deflected.
The second half started with neither keeper being seriously tested . Annan boss Peter Murphy substituted Ross Ferguson with Chris Johnston in the 60th minute in an effort to give Annan more attacking oprtions, this was followed by a Moxon effort which was blocked.
Johnston’s introduction gave Annan the impact they were looking for and minutes later Stirling were dealt a blow when Dominic Docherty was given a straight red for an attempted head but on Scott Hooper.
Stirling substitutes Max Ahmore and Dylan Mackin were introduced in the 71st minute and this had a positive impact on the home team. Stirling keeper Callum Ferrie pulled off a routine save from Chris Johnston in the 75th minute.
The winning goal came a minute later after Annan conceded a free kick and the long cross appeared to catch the Annan defence out and the ball fell to Dylan Mackin who headed the ball back into the path of MacDonald who’s left footed shot from close range found the corner of the net.
Moxon was replaced as Annan went out to try and salvage something from the match but it was Stirling who were then deprived by the cross bar in the 87th minute after Dylan Mackin’s effort from the edge of the box went close.
Annan had an opportunity as the match went into injury time when Tommy Muir was one on one with the keeper but the Annan striker failed to hit the target and the opportunity was lost.
Full marks to the Binos for grinding out the victory and overcoming the sending off of Docherty against an Annan team who were disappointing and rarely threated the Stirling goal. The only positive that Annan could take out of results on the day was the fact that they are still in the play off zone but on the evidence of this performance they must improve against Edinburgh City and Peterhead in the next 2 matches.
Annan Athletic – Alex Mitchell, Scott Hooper, James Creaney , David Wilson, Kyle Bradley, Steven Swinglehurst, Owen Moxon ( Tony Wallace 78 min ), Ryan Sinnamon, Aidan Smith, Tommy Muir, Ross Ferguson ( Chris Johnston 60 min). Subs not used Aiden McCadams, Peter Watson , Ayrton Sonkur, Lewis Strapp.
Stirling Albion – Callum Ferrie, Ross McGeachie, Jordan Allan, Ronan Hughes, Evan Horne , Kyle Banner, Daniel Jardine, Dominic Docherty, Peter MacDonald ( Neil McLaughlin 89 min), Darren Smith (Dylan Mackin 70 min), Cammy Thomson ( Max Ashmore 70 min) . Subs not used Callum Binnie GK , Jason Marr, Jordan McGregor, Reg McLaren
Referee – Colin Steven . Crowd 617
The battle for the title now appears to be three horse race with Peterhead, Edinburgh City and Clyde all getting back in the winning mode. Peterhead collected the points with a 2-0 victory over Albion Rovers , Edinburgh City recorded a 4-0 victory at Hampden against Queens Park who are on a bad run at present. Clyde collected all the points at Shielfield with a 3-0 victory over Berwick Rangers who appear to be battling against Albion Rovers for the bottom position. Cowdenbeath had the result of the day defeating Elgin City 4-1 at Borough Briggs to push themselves into contention for the play offs.