Heartache for the Blues

Stranraer celebrate Jamie Longworth's goal
Stranraer celebrate Jamie Longworth's goal
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Stranraer 1, Stenhousemuir 1

Stranraer suffered heartache when Stenhousemuir equalised in the fourth and final minute of stoppage time.

The goal denied the Blues a morale-boosting and deserved victory, though Warriors fans may not agree as they had bombarded the Blues goal in the final minutes.

Nevertheless Stranraer showed a return to form and the point they earned was one gained given other results and pushed them closer to a promotion play-off place.

Stranraer got off to a dream start by scoring from the first corner of the game in the seventh minute. When Andy Stirling’s delivery was headed to far post it reached Grant Gallagher and he fired a shot back into the danger zone where top scorer Jamie Longworth got the vital touch to knock the ball into the net.

Another corner from Stranraer saw Scott Rumsby head goalwards and as the ball was cleared it fell to Stephen Stirling who drilled a shot high over the top.

Stenhousemuir showed some purpose in attack with Smith the creator again and his low cross forced some brave goalkeeping from David Mitchell.

A long clearance from defence by Stranraer wasn’t dealt with by David Rowson who headed straight up in the air and allowed Gallagher to chest the ball down and fire a stinging volley at goal. Unfortunately it was just too close to Chris Smith who flung himself full length to his right to beat the ball away.

The Warriors almost drew level with a great run from Devlin, who was dispossessed by a great challenge from Frank McKeown but as the loose ball fell to Higgins his shot flicked the post.

The home support appealed for a penalty as Stewart Greacen caught Longworth with a flailing arm and then Smith saved from Andy Stirling as he cut inside and fizzed a shot towards goal. Both the Stirlings then combined to set up Gallagher for another shot but a lunge by Sean Lynch was good enough to block the midfielder’s effort.

The second half began slowly but the game was suddenly re-ignited within eight minutes as Stranraer were reduced to 10 men. Stephen Stirling slid in to challenge Ross McMillan in midfield but the Warriors defender got to the ball first. With studs being shown, the Blues midfielder was sent packing.

That removed the momentum from the Blues and presented it to the Warriors. They introduced John Gemmell and stated their intention to use the aerial assault route.

Stranraer were still keen to counter-attack and after good work by Gallagher and Grehan, Longworth had a chance that was deflected wide for a corner.

Warriors replacement Kevin McKinlay almost caught out Mitchell with a misplaced cross and forced the Blues keeper to look lively and tip it over the bar. At the other end Greacen denied Grehan but it was a rare foray as the visitors applied the pressure.

The home side defended magnificently, throwing themselves in front of everything the Warriors created and coming out unscathed after a succession of goalmouth melées.

It looked as if the Blues would hold on for the victory until the final attack. A corner was cleared again by the Blues and it fell to David Rowson at the edge of the box. He struck the volley sweetly and crisply into the bottom corner.

Stephen Aitken couldn’t criticise his players and praised their efforts throughout the game which had been tremendous and it was unfortunate they couldn’t quite hold on when the performance deserved a bit more than they got on the day.

Stranraer: David Mitchell, Scott Robertson, Mark Docherty, Scott Rumsby, Frank McKeown, Stephen Stirling, Sean Winter, Grant Gallagher, Martin Grehan (David McKenna 84), Jamie Longworth (Ryan Borris 67), Andy Stirling (David MacGregor 89). Subs not used: Lloyd Kinnaird, Adam Forde, Chris Fahey

Booked: Gallagher

Sent off: S Stirling

Goal: Longworth 7

Stenhousemuir: Chris Smith, Nicky Devlin, Stewart Greacen, Ross McMillan, Eddie Malone (Kevin McKinlay 64), Sean Lynch (John Gemmell 59), Sean Dickson, David Rowson, Sean Higgins, Darren Smith, Josh Watt (Ross McNeil 75).

Booked: Lynch, Rowson

Goal: Rowson 90+4

Attendance: 403

Referee: A Muir