Huge win for Loons but gaffer expects response

Pic credit: Christopher Coutts.
Pic credit: Christopher Coutts.

What a fine victory it was for Forfar Athletic last night (Wednesday) as they romped to a deserved 3-0 victory over Stranraer in the Promotion Play-off semi-final first leg, thanks to goals from Omar Kader, Gavin Swankie and Kerr Hay.

And while the Loons were well worth the three-goal lead they’ll try to defend at Stair Park this weekend - arguably, it should have been a much bigger margin - Dick Campbell knows the job is only half done.

The boss also said he’s well aware that the BLues will be all over his side as they try to overturn the significant deficit.

Dick said: “I thought we were well worthy of winning the game 3-0.

“But it’s only half-time in the tie. Stranraer will be right at us from the start on Saturday.

“I’ve given a young lad his debut and he was excellent, I brought two other youngsters off the bench and one of them’s got a goal. That shows that I trust these boys.

It’s only half-time in the tie. Stranraer will be right at us from the start on Saturday.

Dick Campbell

“Not many teams go and beat Stranraer 3-0.”

Campbell made three changes to the side beaten 3-1 by Ayr United on Saturday as Kader replaced the injured Dale Hilson, fit-again Derek Young came in for Gavin Malin and teenage defender Michael Kennedy made his debut in place of the suspended Michael Dunlop.

The game started as it would go on - Forfar all over their opponents, penning them back into their own penalty area save for a handful of forays up the park.

Debutant Kennedy looked comfortable at left back as veteran Darren Dods talked him through the full 90 minutes while winger Danny Denholm enjoyed a return to his top form of the first half of the campaign.

Indeed the whole team’s performanced smacked of the Loons as they were in August and September; rampaging through their opponents with explosive pace, clever trickery and insightful passing.

The only thing they lacked for a long time was a goal as David Mitchell and his defence blocked everything that Gavin Swankie, Chris Templeman, Kader and Denholm threw their way.

The pick of Mitchell’s saves came right before half time when the goalie somehow denied Denholm from close range using just his leg.

Stephen Aitken’s Stranraer started the second period much improved but the hosts were resolute at the back, with Rab Douglas making a stupendous one-handed save from Jamie Longworth’s glancing header.

Forfar flew up the park after that and Swankie saw a lobbed effort come flying back off the bar; at this point, it felt like it just wasn’t the Loons’ day despite their dominance.

But they finally took the lead after 62 minutes when a gorgeous Swankie cross from the right hand side was headed at goal by the excellent Templeman; Mitchell denied the effort right on the line but Kader was on hand to smash the rebound over the line for 1-0.

Hay replaced Kader shortly after with Craig Smith replacing Templeman up front and he almost made it two when he was played through in behind the left back - who would have been hoping for a respite after being tortured by Kader for 72 minutes, but found none from the youngster - but the U20s’ Players’ Player of the Year saw his effort rattle off the far post.

That ended in a corner for Forfar and when the ball came to Swankie on the edge of the box, he sent in a stunning lobbed effort that Mitchell couldn’t prevent sailing into the net, despite getting a hand to it.

And it was 3-0 shortly after when Martyn Fotheringham squared for Hay to hammer it home from close range.

The second leg is this Saturday at Stair Park and Forfar are able to offer free coach travel to supporters thanks to an incredibly kind donation from a local businessman.