Stirling Albion v Annan Athletic
Annan’s momentum from last weeks victory over Elgin City continued to blossom at a Foggy Forthbank on Saturday with a superb victory over closest rivals and manager-less Stirling Albion. Make no mistake Annan fully deserved to lift the points at a venue not known for Annan victories but the manner in which Annan lost a late goal took the gloss off a dominant all round performance.
However the early warning signs once again re-appeared for the second successive week as the unchanged Annan team once again had to come from behind after they lost an early goal in the 7th minute, the Binos latched on to an error in the Annan midfield when Dylan Mackin picked the ball up to set up Daniel Scalley who’s low drive ripped into the net past the outstretched arm of the diving Greg Fleming. Could Stirling’s miserable 4 match beaten run be coming to an end?
It was certainly not the start Annan were looking for but gradually Annan took command to take the game to Stirling, Chris Johnston was a prominent player throughout the match and in the 15th minute Johnston set up an opportunity for Lewis Hunter who’s effort went narrowly past the upright.
It was Chris Johnston who struck the leveller for Annan in the 30th minute when he picked the ball up wide on the right before cutting inside to finish with a low shot into the bottom right hand corner of the net which beat Blair Currie. This goal certainly gave Annan the impetus and within a couple of minutes Johnston was once again probing for an opening when his effort was blocked.
Annan’s purple patch continued when they took the lead in the 34th minute the goal was created down the right, once again Johnston was instrumental in combining with DomnickDocherty who released the ball to Tommy Goss who made no mistake tucking the ball into the corner of the net past Blair Currie.
It was all Annan as Stirling struggled to contain Annan’s momentum as attempts from Domnick Docherty, Cameron Clark and Aidan Smith all added to Stirling’s woes. As the half headed for half time it was the home team who started to put the Annan defence under pressure and it was ex Annan player Nathan Flanagan who came close with a good effort in the 45th minute which was confidently saved by Fleming.
Stirling started the second half well and Jack Leitch tested Greg Fleming with a shot from the edge of the box, in the 53rd minute Stirling made a double substitution with striker Dylan Bikey and Carrick replacing Mackin and Roberts but minutes later their chances took a dive when Jack Leitch was sent off for a reckless challenge on Chris Johnston and the incident led to yellow cards being dished out to Lewis Hunter and Kyle Banner.
Annan continued to take the game to Stirling, Aidan Smith set up Steven Swinglehurst with an opportunity in the 59th minute, Rob McCartney was introduced at the expense of Tommy Goss in the 64th minute. Annan continued to exert pressure on the home defence forcing a series of corner kicks. McCartney then increased Annan’s lead in the 76th minute but the goal was created superbly by Owen Moxon who won the ball wide on the right before cutting across the field to release McCartney in on goal and the Annan substitute finished with a clinical shot past Currie and into the bottom left hand corner of the net.
Heaver and Moore replaced Flanagan and McGeachie for the home team in the 81st minute as stand in manager James Creanie attempted to break Annan’s hold on the match. Annan’s man of the match Chris Johnston was replaced by Michael Garrity in the 90th minute and almost immediately Stirling pulled a goal back when Keiran Moore’s cross from the right found Daniel Scally at the back post and his header gave Stirling hope of getting something out of the match.
Annan however were in no mood to give up the advantage that they had worked hard to achieve and in the end Annan saw out the 4 minutes of additional time to lift the points to maintain their position in the top four.