Derby victory followed by defeat at East Fife

IT was a week of mixed fortunes for the Loons as the games continue to come thick and fast.

Dick Campbell’s men did immensely well to grab victory from the jaws of defeat with a late surge against near-neighbours Brechin City last Tuesday evening but then crashed three-nil at East Fife on Saturday.

And, while a promotion play-off spot remains very much within the grasp of Forfar, more worrying over the course of the past week is a mounting injury list coupled with suspensions kicking in.

At the time of going to press on Tuesday (yesterday), the Loons were preparing to host Stenhousemuir, with Martyn Fothringham and Iain Campbell struggling through injury and Jamie Bishop missing through suspension following his rather harsh red card in the early stages of the game at the New Bayview on Saturday.

Next up for Forfar will be a home match against runaway title favourites Livingston on Saturday, followed by a trip to Ayr United, another team in the promotion play-off melting pot on Wednesday evening of next week.

With Livy looking odds on certainties to lift a second successive title, the Loons’ aim in the coming two months will be to remain in the top four

Certainly, the way they came roaring back in the final few minutes to clinch all three points at home to Brechin City last midweek would suggest that they are up for the battle.

There was little between the two sides in the first half, with chances few and far between.

And, the longer the game went the more likely it was that the team that grabbed the opening goal would go on and take all three points.

And these points looked to be heading east when the visitors took the lead in 64 minutes courtesy of a well-worked goal.

Jordan Kirkpatrick produced a cross from the right that every striker dreams of and Ewan Moyes was on hand to head-flick past the stranded Forfar goalkeeper into the corner of the net.

The strike looked as if it would separate the sides as Forfar struggled to get anywhere near the visitors goal.

But, in the closing ten minutes the Loons upped the ante and, a minute after Chris Templeman hit the woodwork with a headed effort, his next attempt, from an Iain Campbell cross, found the net for the leveller.

On the night a draw would have been a fair result, but Forfar were far from finished.

Templeman was again the thorn in the City flesh, working the ball to the by-line on the left and crossing for Sellars to see his close-range saved by the keeper. But the ball was only scrambled as far as the lurking Ross Campbell who prodded home the winner.

It was the second time in as many games that Campbell has struck deep into injury time.

The result delighted Loons assistant boss Ian Campbell.

“I don’t think there was much between the teams until the last 15 minutes but then we forced a series of corners.

“When you are playing in local derbies it’s all about getting the result. Nobody could deny us scoring in the 93rd minute and all credit to the boys for that.”

It was then on to East Fife on Saturday, with Forfar hoping to put a bit more daylight between themselves and the improving Fifers.

But they were to be dealt a blow early in the game when they were rather harshly reduced to ten men - and from then on it was always going to be an uphill struggle to get a result at a place that hasn’t been too good to the Loons in recent years.

The game was only 13 minutes old when the Loons lost the services of defender Jamie Bishop - the referee deeming the defender’s late tackle on Steve Hislop worthy of more than yellow.

That would have been ok if consistency kicked in. But Matthew Park escaped with only a yellow for an equally late tackle on Iain Campbell, which ended the visiting defender’s participation in the game!

It was a case of digging in for the Loons thereafter, but East Fife eventually unlocked the Loons defence in 33 minutes, Marc McCulloch setting up Steve Hislop to side-foot past Scott Gallacher.

That’s how things stood at the break, but with East Fife in control it was no surprise when they added a second goal in 74 minutes through Jonathan Smart.

The game was ended as a contest two minutes from time when Bobby Linn added a third.

It was a disappointing result, and assistant boss Ian Campbell was left fuming at what he deemed were two crucial refereeing decisions.

“The game had some horrendous decisions - it’s as simple as that.”

However, Forfar have proved in the past that they can bounce back from a reverse, and there was further good news to report on Monday, when it was announced that the squad had been strengthened courtesy of an emergency temporary transfer.

Forfar Athletic have signed Dundee United striker Ryan Dow until the end of the season.

Nineteen-year-old Ryan is a Dundonian who made his first team debut for United against Rangers towards the end of last season.