It was by no means a classic display of football on Saturday, but Dick Campbell was just delighted to see his Loons pick up the three points again.
Danny Denholm’s sixth goal of the season gave Forfar Athletic a 1-0 win over Stenhousemuir, ending a run of three games without victory, and helped the team close the gap on leaders Stranraer to three points.
It has been a tough run for the Station Park outfit, with losss to Brechin City and Stranraer threatening to derail their title campaign, but the defeat of the Warriors and results elsewhere go to show how tight the championship run-in will be.
Dick said: “We have been going through a sticky spell, as everybody says. And again it wasn’t anything like the fluent stuff we’ve been playing. But I’ve been trying to get through to everybody and saying look, we have earned that right for people to come and respect us. The opposition are making things really difficult for us.
“It’s a great goal, but I don’t think it was a great game. The goalkeepers haven’t had a save to make. It’s a great three points for us, a great result. I’m very happy.
“You’ve got to consider as well that Baxter and Templeman are injured, that’s the first game back for Fotheringham and Derek Young. Husband and Smith have been going through a sticky spell so we took them out, put them on the bench. I thought we did well. Yano did well at left back.”
Midfielder Derek Young appeared for the first time in four months after injury as one of five changes, with Martyn Fotheringham, Gavin Malin and Omar Kader starting alongside Iain Campbell, who returned to the club on a short loan from Cowdenbeath on Friday.
Stephen Husband, Mikey Dunlop and Scott Smith dropped to the bench while Mark Baxter and Chris Templeman were out with injuries.
The Loons were dealt a massive blow less than five minutes into the game when Dale Hilson went down holding his hamstring and after attempting to play on following treatment, he was replaced by winger Denholm.
Stenhousemuir had the first shot on goal in the 21st minute as Bryan Hodge’s free kick took a slight deflection on its way over the crossbar.
Josh Watt also saw his shot diverted wide by a Forfar defender.
Forfar went even closer in the closing stages of the first half as Malin’s through ball was met by Denholm who saw his shot turned wide before Michael Travis’ back post header from Fotheringham’s corner was pushed away by Greg Fleming.
Denholm then nodded past the post from Iain Campbell’s corner seconds before the half time whistle.
The second half looked to be slightly more entertaining than the first, with a few chances in the first 10 minutes, Hodge blasting over from the edge of the box for the visitors before Denholm went closest to scoring.
Gavin Swankie gave Kader the ball on the right, he sent a ball into the box but Denholm’s header was stopped on the line by Ross Meechan.
A minute after Denholm’s chance, he set up Martyn Fotheringham but his shot trickled past Fleming’s post with the keeper beaten.
The game endured a bleak period void of chances until James Dale and Fotheringham had efforts blocked in a crowded penalty area.
But Denholm finally sealed the points with his first goal since September, back-heeling Swankie’s superb cross from the left wing, giving Fleming no chance.
The victory means Forfar move into second in League One following Greenock Morton’s 1-1 draw with Ayr United.
Stephen Aitken’s Blues were beaten 2-0 by 13-game unbeaten Brechin City, meaning the Loons are now just three points behind the league leaders with a game in hand, against Peterhead at Balmoor Stadium.
forfar athletic (4-4-2): Douglas; Travis, Dods, Malcolm, Campbell; Kader, Malin (Dale, 56), Young, Swankie; Fotheringham (Husband, 81), Hilson (Denholm, 8)
Subs not used: Salmon, Dunlop, James, Smith
stenhousemuir (4-2-3-1): Fleming; Meechan, Lithgow, McMillan, Summers; Millar, Hodge; Dickson (Trialist, 62), Eddington (Faulds, 71), Watt (Grehan, 86); McMenamin
Subs not used: Smith, Duncan, Fotheringham, Gallacher