Stranraer 2, East Fife 0
Stranraer secured their first league victory of the season with a comfortable win against fellow strugglers East Fife and sent them to the foot of the table.
Although a touch early in the season to be such a thing, the game had been billed as a six-pointer and it was Stephen Aitken’s Blues who finally turned some of their promise into a tangible reward.
The Blues looked the more dangerous side and it only took 22 minutes to prove it. A delightful chip from Andy Stirling unlocked the visiting defence and, while he missed his first attempt and caused keeper Greg Paterson to collide with Gary Naysmith, the second attempt from Martin Grehan was rifled low into the back of the net for his fourth goal in four consecutive matches.
Frank McKeown made a superb pass to find the ever willing David McKenna in space and with his cross bound for either Winter or Chris Aitken, it needed a deft flick away from Steven Campbell to clear the danger.
Within a few minutes of the restart, the pattern of the game resumed with the Blues dominating and Grant Gallagher created a chance for Grehan with a neat flick but the striker turned and shot straight at Paterson.
Injury and illness forced Winter and Grehan off but able replacements in Ryan Borris and Jamie Longworth arrived and with the advent of a visit to Easter Road and the Hibernian game looming, the management were not taking any chances.
The substitutions proved to be successful with a second goal that always looked like it would be enough to kill off East Fife. Andy Stirling, chris Aitken and McKenna all linked up in the quick counter-attack and although McKenna was halted just inside the box he did enough to get the loose ball to Aitken. He looked to his left and found Longworth, who calmly stroked the ball past the helpless Paterson.
The final 25 minutes were largely uneventful and that suited Stranraer. A goalmouth scramble that Stranraer eventually cleared resulted in a free kick at the other end which McKeown struck low from almost 30 yards and his effort hit the outside of the post but there were few other chances at either end as Stranraer showed the merit of being able to defend in numbers across the field and ensure the lead would not be lost, clearly learning the lessons from previous weeks which the manager commented upon afterwards that he was pleased with.
East Fife sent on a couple of replacement strikers as they tried to salvage something but Stranraer were determined to claim their first clean sheet of the season and, more importantly, take a vital three points.
A delighted Stephen Aitken was pleased with the result and the effort that his team had put into the game. He felt that they “had played better but the important thing today was to win the game and keep a clean sheet which were both achieved and Stranraer could take confidence from both and we could now look forward to taking on Hibernian on Tuesday night without any pressure on us at all”.
Stranraer: David Mitchell, Scott Rumsby, Scott Robertson, Chris Aitken, Frank McKeown, Grant Gallagher, Sean Winter (Ryan Borris 51), Andy Stirling, Martin Grehan (Jamie Longworth 57), David McKenna, Mark Corcoran (Lloyd Kinnaird 64). Subs not used: David MacGregor, Mark Docherty, Adam Forde, Chris Fahey
Booked: Gallagher, Borris
Goals: Grehan 22, Longworth 61
East Fife: Greg Paterson, Robbie Neilson, Gary Naysmith (Cedric Tuta 78), Gary Thom, Steven Campbell, Johnny Stewart (Ross Brown 64), Paul Willis, Craig Johnstone, Liam Buchanan, Pat Clarke (Nathan Austin 69), Scott McBride. Subs not used: Joe Mbu, Scott Durie, Cyrus Moosavi, Michael Andrews.
Booked: Johnstone, Stewart, Willis
Referee: D Somers