INJURY-HIT Forfar Athletic enjoyed a four-one derby romp at home to near-neighbours Brechin City on Saturday, considerably easing their relegation fears.
The result, coming hard on the heels of a creditable away point at Stirling Albion in midweek, took the Loons four points clear of bottom side Albion Rovers and three in front of the Binos.
But there is still much hard work to be done in the remaining eight fixtures of the campaign if Forfar are to remain a Scottish second division side next season.
More repeats of the standard of play served up at Station Park on Saturday would certainly help the cause.
The performance certainly delighted manager Dick Campbell.
“I was very close to signing a player on Saturday morning, but it didn’t happen, so I was down to 14 fit players for the game,” he commented.
“My team was more or less picked for me so I’m thinking, let’s throw caution to the wind and give the supporters something to shout about.
“I can’t believe how well we played out there.”
Forfar were three up and cruising at the end of the first period, but Campbell warned his players that it wasn’t done and dusted at that stage.
“I warned them that the Brechin manager had to change things and Jim Weir did. Within two minutes they were back in the game, big Scott Buist scoring a great goal.
“That’s when the character came in and we gave Brechin a real battering thereafter. Some of the stuff we played throughout the game was exciting and we scored excellent goals.”
It was a much changed side that took to the field for the latest local derby, Forfar without half a dozen regulars, including top goal-scorer Chris Templeman.
But the fringe players rose to the challenge, although the first quarter of an hour wasn’t anything to write home about.
Just when it looked as if it would turn out to be a bit of derby yawn, Forfar burst into life.
Man-of-the-match Nicky Low provided the initial spark, teasing his marker before sending in a great cross from the left, allowing Martyn Fotheringham to rise and head-flick the ball wide of Craig Nelson into the corner of the net.
That was in 20 minutes and, 12 minutes later it was two, Low catching Nelson out with a shot on goal from a free-kick wide right, when the keeper was, like everyone else, waiting for a cross into the box.
Forfar’s third was a real cracker, Kevin Byers lobbing his marker and fizzing a great shot high past Nelson from just inside the area.
The game looked to be done and dusted at this stage, but Brechin weren’t for lying down and accepting the situation.
Weir brought Jim Lister on for David McKenna at the start of the second period and, in the 47th minute, centre-back Scott Buist threw his side a life-line when he rose to head home a free-kick from the right.
But that was the only blip on a great Forfar performance, the home side sealing all three points with a goal from the penalty spot in the 67th minute.
Low was again the architect, tricking his way into the area before being upended, Martyn Fotheringham sending the goalkeeper the wrong way from the penalty spot.
The previous Tuesday, the Loons were unlucky not to return from Stirling Albion with a precious away victory.
They bounced back from going a goal down to take the lead, only to lose Chris Hegarty to a red card before conceding three minutes from time and having to settle for a two-two share. Stirling Albion, desperate for survival points, took the lead in 18 minutes, Kelbie making ground down the right and sweeping the ball into the penalty box for Mark Ferry to curl the ball home.
But, on a rain-soaked surface, Forfar got to grips with play, Chris Templeman coming close with a headed effort from a Fotheringham free-kick.
The Loons continued their search for the leveller and it came early in the second period. Hilson crossed into the area and the ball was only cleared as far as Stephen Tulloch, who celebrated his return from a loan spell at Berwick Rangers by heading over a ruck of players into the net.
Minutes later and Forfar were in front, a Fotheringham free-kick finding its way to Chris Templeman, who scored with a fine shot on the turn.
There was a blow for the Loons when Chris Hegarty was judged to have gone in far too hard on Reidford in a race for the ball, the referee deeming it to be a red card offence.
The incident left Forfar to try and negotiate the final 20 minutes with ten men, and they did quite well until the 87th minute when Stirling broke up a Forfar raid to burst clean through on goal, allowing McSorley to net the leveller.
It was a bit of a blow for the Loons in their bid to get away from the division two drop zone, but they more than made up for the late blip at the Forthbank Stadium with that fine performance and result against Brechin City.
Now the Loons must continue the good work when they travel to take on Airdie United this coming Saturday.