Forfar move into pole position after thrashing Stenhousemuir

Photo - Chris Coutts.
Photo - Chris Coutts.

A blistering first half display gave Forfar Athletic a 4-1 win over Stenhousemuir on Saturday.

Danny Denholm scored a brace with Kerr Hay and Michael Travis also on the scoresheet for the Loons.

Dick Campbell will be concerned with the dwindling size of his playing pool after having to make all three substitutions before half-time due to injuries to Gavin Swankie, Tam O’Brien and Mark Baxter.

Hibs striker Lewis Allan made his debut for Forfar in place of Chris Templeman while livewire Hay came in for Martyn Fotheringham - Templeman and Fotheringham both making the bench.

It was a display that smacked of the type of relentless attacking football from this time last season when teams visiting Station Park were blown away by Denholm, Swankie, Dale Hilson and Omar Kader running roughshod over the defences in front of them.

The inclusion of Hay on the opposite flank to Denholm certainly helped increase the pace going forward and Templeman was simply unplayable for 40 minutes after replacing the injured skipper with just five minutes played.

Stenny bounced back after the break and while they had more of the ball than a tired Forfar team, they never troubled the Loons who had to rejig their back-line four times during the game.

It was the hosts who started better but the Warriors looked sharp on the counter.

Neither side had a clear-cut chance before the opening goal inside 15 minutes through Denholm.

Hay - a constant thorn in Stenny’s side - burst into the box after cutting across full-back Jamie McCormack; he drilled a low shot at goal but it hit off a wall of watching bodies before falling to Denholm right in front of the keeper, and the winger had plenty of time to score.

Jamie Barclay denied Templeman a superb headed goal with his legs following a Bryan Hodge cross before Denholm added the second.

Templeman - outstanding since coming on - cut it back to the winger who lifted it into the roof of the net.

It was three soon after when Hay hammered the ball home after Allan’s great work following a corner.

Stenny got back into the game with a clever finish from Robertson but the arrears were restored seconds later when sub Travis leapt highest at a corner to power a header past Barclay for 4-1.

Jon McShane and Alan Smith forced saves out of Rab Douglas as the visitors enjoyed a good spell of possession.

Alan Cook had Stenny’s best chance of a second at the end of another great spell for the Warriors but his low effort from 20 yards was inches wide of the post.

The game petered out to a quiet finish and manager Dick Campbell was much the happier at full-time.

He said: “The goals Danny scored were great opportunist goals. Kerr’s goal was a great goal as well.

“We had to make all three subs in the first half and it’s rare you see that. I thought we went about our job well. At 4-1 Brown has his team set out to come back into it, they did well and we weathered that. We still could have done better. I’ve seen it so many times, players just settle on a lead like that.

“We’re top of the league and we’ve no complaints about the score. We’ve got complaints with injuries now. The three that came off will struggle, absolutely. We’ve got a strong enough squad, we won’t take any chances.

“I think Lewis’ debut was an able one. Young Kerr scored again, he’s scored three goals now.

“That’s the second time Baxter has came off in two games so it might be that he needs a rest, or at least an investigation into it.

“Some of the first half football was fantastic, lovely to watch. We’re delighted with how we’ve started the season.

“We’ve lost one goal in three games in the league. It’s a fair foundation to start with.”

Warriors boss Brown Ferguson was content with his side’s response in the second half but said the damage was already done.

Ferguson said: “We’re bitterly disappointed with the outcome of the game as well as the result. Second half was a bit better performance, we got some respectability back from that because we never showed up first half.

“If you don’t turn up you get turned over quite quickly and we did.

“As a team we just weren’t there.”