Stirling Albion vs Annan Athletic FC
Annan followed up their Ramsdens Cup victory over Formartine with a comfortable victory over Stirling Albion at Forthbank. The home side were forced to play second fiddle for long spells to an Annan side who never really looked like conceding a goal all afternoon in a fine polished team performance.
Annan Boss Jim Chapman included in the team on loan signing Andy Mitchell on the right hand side of midfield and the Rangers Northern Irish Under 21 player who has joined the Galabankies on a 90 day loan from made an impressive debut in a match that Annan always looked dangerous going forward.
Annan got off to a flier and after just five minutes at Forthbank, David Hopkirk took advantage of some poor defending and drove into the box from the right flank and picked out Ally Love who lashed the ball into the net from six yards. Stirling were fortunate not to fall further behind in the 24th minute when David Crawford saved the day for the home team when he blocked Kenny MacKay’s net-bound effort with his leg after Hopkirk had set up the Annan striker. Hopkirk let fly from 30 yards in the 30th minute as Annan looked to add to their earlier advantage. The nearest Stirling came to scoring in a what was a disappointing first half for them arrived in the 35th minute when Stephen Day finished a penetrating run with a shot into the midrift of Kenny Arthur. Ally Love then tested David Crawford with a low shot. As the match approached half time Kenny MacKay had a glorious opportunity to double Annan’s advantage when he broke clear to test the keeper.
Annan doubled their advantage in the 52nd minute when Kieran McAnespie’s quickly-taken free-kick cannoned off Ally Love and the ball fell invitingly into the path of David Hopkirk who beat Crawford with a clinical finish from 16 yards. Hopkirk and MacKay missed chances to add to Stirling’s misery. Stephen Day and David Weatherston had sights of goal but their efforts lacked conviction and were easily saved by Kenny Arthur and at the death substitute Bradley Coyne headed straight at veteran keeper Kenny Arthur in an afternoon that will be best forgotten by Stirling Albion.
Annan boss Jim Chapman was full of praise for the way the players went about their business, “they thoroughly deserved their victory today, it probably could have been a lot more. We have brought new players into the squad and have asked the players to raise their standards. We know there is more to come from the group, yes it was a fantastic 3 points and to keep a blank sheet is another plus for us. The experience of Peter Weatherson and Kenny Arthur is helping develop us defensively. We cannot take anything for granted, the game is over so we need to get back to the hard work in training and prepare for next weeks game against Clyde.
Stirling Albion: D Crawford, R McGeachie, R Forsyth,D Fulton (B Coyne 64), K McAnespie (P Johnston 56), C Smith, G Weir, M Ferry, J White, D Weatherston (S Cunningham 72), S Day.
Subs (not used): D Ashe, J Clark, M McCulloch, S Robertson (GK).
Annan Athletic: K Arthur, I Chisholm, P Bradley, A Mitchell (K Brannan 86),P Watson, S Sloan, K MacKay (S Davidson 79), M Flynn (M McNiff 74), P Weatherson, D Hopkirk, A Love.
Subs (not used): G Anderson, S Logan, J Todd, G Black GK).
Referee: Kevin Graham. Assistants M Banks and R Strain