Foxy strikes back to help Forfar make a quick return to the top of League One

Pic credit Christopher Coutts.
Pic credit Christopher Coutts.

Dale Hilson, Gavin Swankie and Martyn Fotheringham were on the scoresheet as Forfar Athletic swept Stenhousemuir aside 3-0 on Saturday.

The victory returned the Loons to the summit of League One after Dunfermline had overtaken them with their 1-0 win over Ayr United on Friday evening, leaving Dick Campbell’s side top after the first quarter of the season.

Icon Fotheringham admitted it’s tough to be starting games on the bench but he stressed the most important thing is for the side to be winning games and playing well.

He said: “I’ve been in the game long enough to know when the team’s winning and I’m not playing, you’re either waiting on an injury or a suspension to try and get in and I expect the gaffer will go with the same team again next week. It’s a nightmare for myself but you’ve got to be happy as well because we’re sitting top of the league. It keeps everyone on their toes to keep their performances high.”

There’s a balance to the Forfar team that perhaps hasn’t been there in recent years - the experienced defence has the second best record in the league while the explosive forwards have fired the club to the top of the scoring charts - and this machine shows no signs of slowing down.

It was more of an efficient performance compared to the displays of liquid football against Peterhead and Dunfermline, with Foxy’s summation that the Loons were nowhere near their best an accurate one, but they still romped to a 3-0 victory that could, and should, have been by more.

There was almost a sense of inevitablity as the Stenny defence, already being battered relentlessly, caved in after less than five minutes to allow the on-fire Hilson to score his fifth league goal.

Hilson’s partner in crime Swankie grabbed a clever goal just after the break before Foxy hit the third with a trademark free kick, and Fotheringham revealed he had to ask fellow dead ball specialist Stephen Husband for a kick of the ball - because he hasn’t had that many this season.

Foxy continued: “Hubby was wanting to have a shot but I happened to say to him, ‘Stephen, can I play as well because I’ve not played all season, so can I get a kick?’ So he let me take it and we had a wee chuckle after I scored.

“I wouldn’t say we were at our best but we’ve still come away with a 3-0 win. Competition for places is always going to bring the best out of you and keep you at the right end of the table.”

It was an unchanged side for the Warriors’ visit as Dick Campbell confirmed Derek Young will be out for at least six weeks through injury.

There wasn’t long to wait for the opening goal, Hilson collecting Swankie’s pass with his back to goal before turning on a sixpence and firing low past Greg Fleming.

Gary Oliver almost levelled five minutes later when Rab Douglas fumbled his long range effort but the big stopper recovered well.

Hilson and Swankie traded excellent chances before Fleming pulled off a stunning save from Danny Denholm’s raking effort on the half hour mark.

Husband then hit a specialist effort from all of 35 yards, rattling the bar with Fleming floundering.

Jamie Reid nearly grabbed an equaliser just after the break before Swankie hit Forfar’s second - his fifth of the campaign - from a rehearsed short corner.

Ciaran Summers, booked for a challenge on Omar Kader in the first half, was shown a second yellow and a subsequent red for another foul on Kader.

Fotheringham made sure of the points with 13 minutes left, hitting a free kick into the top corner from the edge of the box.

Next up for the Loons is a visit to Dunfermline Athletic in what is a tantalising top of the table clash and Fotheringham said the players head to East End Park full of belief.

He added: “Going into the game next week, it’ll be a hard game at Dunfermline because they’re a good, full-time team. But we’ve shown over the last couple of years that we can compete with them.

“We’re full of confidence, it’s the first quarter of the season over with and we’re top of the league so there’s nothing to fear going there, especially with the players
we’ve got.”

Forfar Athletic: Douglas, Baxter, Paterson, Malcolm (Dunlop 74), Dods, Husband, Kader (Fotheringham 66), Dale (Malin 66), Hilson, Swankie, Denholm. Subs not used: Templeman, Keiller, McLellan, Salmon.

Stenhousemuir: Fleming, Meechan, Lithgow, McMillan, Summers, Miller, Reid (Grehan 58), Faulds (Fotheringham 58), McMenamin (Sludden 77), Dickson, Oliver. Subs not used: Duncan, Lawson, Miller, Shaw.