Playoffs elude Loons after last day defeat

Forfar 3
Forfar 3

Forfar Athletic brought the curtain down on a mixed season with a 3-1 defeat away to Stranraer, missing out on the promotion play-offs and ultimately finishing seventh in League One.

Gary Fusco and Dale Hilson were suspended so Gavin Swankie and Stuart Malcolm returned from their own suspensions in the only changes made by manager Dick Campbell.

The Loons went into the game with a slim chance of reaching the play-offs and gave those hopes a boost in the fourth minute when a long punt up the park by Darren Hill was flicked on by Chris Templeman - the ball was met by a Stranraer defender but his headed clearance cannoned off the home side’s captain Frank McKeown, letting Gavin Swankie clean through on goal to slot home past David Mitchell.

Two minutes later David McKenna hit a speculative effort from outside the box that bounced in front of Hill, coming off the post before bouncing across goal and out for a goal kick.

The Stair Park outfit then hit the bar in the 19th minute when an Andy Stirling corner was met by McKeown. His header was flicked by McKenna onto the bar before being cleared for a corner. That corner fell to Scott Rumsby and his shot inside the box was cleared off the line by Ross Campbell as Stranraer hunted for an equaliser.

Omar Kader then had 
three efforts in a row blocked by the Stranraer defence, the ball ending up with Gavin Swankie on the byline but his shot from a tight angle went over.

Stranraer’s Sean Winter fired wide and the Loons’ Marvin Andrews nodded past the post before the home side equalised in the 40th minute, Andy Stirling crossing for Ryan Borris who knocked the ball back for Winter to slam home.

HALF TIME: Stranraer 1 Forfar Athletic 1

Stranraer took the lead nine minutes into the second half as Stirling, who was putting in the type of performance that earned him plaudits from Dick Campbell as his League One player of the year before the game, whipped in a great free kick for Scott Rumsby to head into the net.

The Loons went close in the 57th minute, Swankie setting up Jamie McCluskey but his effort was well saved by David Mitchell. At the other end Darren Hill had to be sharp to push away a long range strike by Mark Docherty.

Stirling had his third assist of the game in the 72nd minute when Frank McKeown nodded the former’s corner home after the Forfar defence allowed him a free header inside the box.

The midfield dynamo almost had a fourth assist with 10 minutes left, setting up his namesake Stephen Stirling whose shot was pushed out for a corner by Hill.

Martyn Fotheringham headed past the post from a Stuart Malcolm cross in the 84th minute before Iain Campbell sent a low free kick into the keeper’s arms.

The final whistle then brought an end to a campaign that brought equal parts disappointment and joy, from missing out on the play-offs to beating Rangers in the League Cup and dismantling the 
likes of Brechin and 
Dunfermline.

Stranraer: David Mitchell, Scott Robertson, Mark Docherty, Scott Rumsby, Frank McKeown, Stephen Stirling, Sean Winter (Steven Bell 67), Ryan Borris, Martin Grehan (Jamie Longworth 46), David McKenna, Andy Stirling.

Subs not used: David MacGregor, Lloyd Kinnaird, Adam Forde, Chris Fahey (gk)

Forfar Athletic: Darren Hill, Stuart Malcolm, 
Iain Campbell, Marvin Andrews, Darren Dods, Jamie McCluskey (Martyn Fotheringham 60), Omar Kader, Gavin Malin (James Dale 60), Chris Templeman, Gavin Swankie (Liam Keiller 65), Ross Campbell.

Subs not used: Paul McLellan, Chris Duggan, Keith Gibson, Rab Douglas (gk)