Forfar Athletic 1-2 Stranraer: Loons lose ground on leaders after Blues defeat

Photo: Chris Coutts
Photo: Chris Coutts

In his programme notes ahead of Forfar Athletic’s game at Station Park on Saturday, manager Dick Campbell said that the ultimate power of any boss is team selection.

Campbell wielded that power as he tinkered with his side that faced Stranraer after a poor showing against Cowdenbeath seven days previously.

But the hoped for response never materialised and it was an extremely flat Loons side who slumped to their third defeat in their last four league outings.

Forfar trailed 2-0 until the game entered the last quarter of an hour but even after Michael Travis grabbed a lifeline, they still never really sparked into life or looked like taking anything from the match.

The lack of chances and sloppy defending angered and disappointed Campbell in equal measure.

“That isn’t the standards we have set about the place and I am very disappointed as you can tell. And my players will be disappointed as well, but I don’t have any complaints.”

He continued: “It is a strange game, football. The first goal was poorly, poorly defended. We have been doing really well this year but we didn’t defend two balls over the top of us.

“The first one should have been a really easy ball to defend and (Michael) Travis will not be happy about that. The second one was the same, it was a stupid push to concede the penalty.

“I didn’t see Stranraer causing us any problems at all. But if you defend like that and lose goals like that you will not win games.”

Campbell admitted his side hadn’t deserved to take anything from the match.

“At the same time, I didn’t see us creating anything in the second half and Stranraer deserved to win the game. We didn’t seem to get the impetus to win the game even after we scored.

“Silly defensive errors cost us. That was the same against Cowdenbeath and now Stranraer. We have taken just three points in the last nine.”

While he acknowledged things might have been different if one or two of the efforts that hit the woodwork had gone in, the Forfar manager admitted Forfar just hadn’t done enough.

“We didn’t make enough chances, not playing at home. I could accept that away sometimes, but not at home.

“I made one or two changes today and both centre halfs gave the goals away. So I didn’t get that right today! But I will.”

After controlling the early play, those two efforts that came off the woodwork proved to be Forfar’s undoing and best chances.

Bryan Hodge somehow scooped his close range shot high up and back off the crossbar before Michael Dunlop was similarly denied, his header from a Swankie cross hitting the bar.

The visitors played their way back into the game and Craig Pertigrew went close before Mark McGuigan made the breakthrough in the 20th minute.

He showed great strength to hold off Michael Travis and force his way into the box, bulleting a shot beyond Scott Gallacher.

The second half started in identikit fashion, with Forfar pressing but again Stranraer stunned them. A long ball over the top found McGuigan and he was brought down by a careless challenge by Thomas O’Brien. It looked soft but there were few protests and Chris Aitken didn’t care as he sent the keeper the wrong way from the penalty spot.

Forfar were forced to up their game and they pushed Stranraer back for long periods. Their pressure finally paid off in the 76th minute when Travis atoned for his earlier error by stabbing a Dunlop cut back home from inside the six yard box.

Despite pressing hard for the equaliser Stranraer held on for the full points.

Forfar now face a tricky trip north to face Peterhead next Saturday and get their league campaign back on track.