Stirling Albion FC vs Annan Athletic FC
Stirling Albion grabbed a late, late equaliser in controversial circumstances after Annan’s Peter Watson was sent off for a tackle on Sandy Cunningham and from the resulting free kick Jordan White headed home to cancel out Scott Davidson’s 14th minute opener. It was cruel injustice on Annan who will no doubt look back on the game and feel that they did more than enough to win the match against a Stirling Team who showed no real cutting edge up front to suggest that they would penetrate a resolute Annan defence.
The match survived two pitch inspections with the heavy rain putting the game in doubt but the rain relented and the game went ahead. Annan started brightly and for the opening spell the home team were pinned back, so it came as no real surprise when Annan opened the account in the 14th minute. It was a simple goal in the making when Martin McNiffs free kick was only half cleared by Danny Ashe and the ball fell invitingly for Scott Davidson who finished clinically with a superb shot into the top corner of the net over the head of keeper David Crawford from 15 yards.
Annan carved open another excellent opportunity minutes later when Peter Bradley picked out Josh Todd and it took an inspired save from keeper Crawford who tipped Todd’s net bound header round the post for a corner kick. Cunningham worked his way into a promising position in the 26th minute but the shot was disappointing failing to hit the target. Andrew Mitchell came close in the 29th minute and a minute later Scott Davidson elected to shoot when there was more lucrative options available. Annan were controlling the flow of the game and in the 30th minute Watson prodded wide from a Brannan corner kick. Stirling Albions best and only chance in a disappointing first half fell to Graham Weir in the 42nd minute when the striker was put through on goal but the shot failed to hit the target.
After a lack luster first half from the home team they started the second half with more purpose but without really threatening the Annan goal. Andrew Mitchell and Keiran Brannan had efforts which failed to test Crawford in the Stirling goal. Weatherston and Comrie were introduced in the 63rd minute at the expense of Munn and Fulton. Danny Ashe came close minutes later when his well intended free kick went narrowly past the post. Keiran Brannan made a great penetrating run to the heart of the Stirling defence in the 72nd minute only to be stopped in his tracks 25 yards out but Mitchells free kick went narrowly past the post. Mark Ferry was introduced in the 76th minute at the expense of Weir in an effort to grab something from the match and following 2 corner kicks Ferry came close when Martin McNiff scrambled Ferry’s effort off the goal line . As the game entered the final 10 minutes Annan introduced a trialist and Jordan Moffat at the expense of Brannon and Davidson and Moffat almost sealed the game for Annan when his shot went narrowly past in the 90th minute. With the game deep into injury time Peter Watson was given a straight red card for a tackle on Sandy Cunningham and from the resulting free kick Jordan White rose unchallenged to head Danny Ashe’s free kick into the net to give Stirling a share of the points in a game which looked to have bye-passed them.
Annan boss Jim Chapman could not hide his disappointment, “Sometimes you get frustrated, was it a foul, yes yellow card. It is the interpretation of what the foul was and if Peter Watson gets a red card for a strong challenge I have a problem, professional fouls are deemed all right strong challenges are deemed red cards. We committed the foul and we did not defend it but the boy scores and the guy who would have been marking him is off the pitch. Naivety killed the game for us, It was devastating for the players and I was gutted for them. We get ourselves in a good position and it is taken away from you, sometimes you need to control your emotions and I would start with myself but we care and we are passionate about the game, games. Points, careers rely on decisions being correct and whether its right or wrong is debatable, we have our views which may be blinkered and Stirling will have their views, the referee calls it the way he sees it and we don’t defend it and all our hard work is destroyed. This league will go right to the end every team is capable of beating each other and that what makes it frustrating we are on the brink of winning the game and it is taken away from you at the end”.
Stirling Albion: D Crawford, D McClune, D Ashe, B Munn ( C Comrie 63 min), J Bishop, M O’Byrne, P Johnston, D Fulton (D Weatherston 63 min), J White, S Cunningham, G Weir (M Ferry 74 min) .Subs (not used): R McGeachie, L Hamilton, R Boyle, C Redford.
Annan Athletic: K Arthur, S Sloan, M McNiff, P Watson, S Swinglehurst, M Flynn, S Davidson ( J Moffat ), K Brannon ( Trialist 81 min), A Mitchell, J Todd, P Bradley. Subs (not used): S Black, I Chisholm, C Jardine, D Wood, A Mitchell.
Referee: N Walsh. Assistants G Chambers and Scott Love
Scott Davidson got on the score sheet agianst his former club