Stranraer 3 Forfar Athletic 1
Winter 40 Swankie 4
Forfar Athletic brought the curtain down on a mixed 2013/2014 season with a poor 3-1 defeat away to Stranraer, missing out on the promotion play-offs, other results meaning they also dropped down to finish seventh in the League One table.
With Gary Fusco and Dale Hilson ruled out through suspension, Gavin Swankie and Stuart Malcolm returned from their own suspensions in the only changes from the previous week’s win.
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, 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 and he calmly slotted home past David Mitchell.
Two minutes later Stranraer hit the post, David McKenna hitting a speculative effort from outside the box that bounced in front of Hill and came off the post, bouncing across the goal and out for a goal kick.
The Stair Park outfit then hit the bar in the 19th minute, an Andy Stirling corner was met by McKeown, his header being flicked by McKenna onto the bar before being cleared for a corner. From that Scott Rumsby’s shot inside the box was cleared off the line by Ross Campbell as Stranraer hunted for an equaliser.
In the 22nd minute Omar Kader had three efforts in a row blocked by the Stranraer defence, the ball ending up with Gavin Swankie on the byline and 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, Andy Stirling, who was putting in the type of performance that earned him plaudits from Dick Campbell as his League One player of the year beforehand, 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 saved well by David Mitchell. At the other end Darren Hill had to be sharp to push away a long range strike by Mark Docherty.
Andy Stirling had his third assist of the game in the 72nd minute, his corner being nodded home by Frank McKeown, who was allowed a free header inside the box.
Stirling almost had a fourth assist with ten minutes left, setting up his namesake Stephen Stirling but his shot was pushed out for a corner by Hill, the effort looking to be going wide regardless.
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 brought the curtain down on the season for Forfar, despite the disappointment of missing out on the play-offs there has been highs such as the defeat of Rangers in the League Cup, dismantling teams like Dunfermline in October, Brechin in January and Stranraer at Stair Park in March and even outplaying Rangers in both home games in the league.
Ramblings of a Loon’s Player of the Match: Normally I pick a Forfar player, which is Omar Kader in this case, but for this game I’m picking Andy Stirling of Stranraer, caused bother for the Forfar defence the whole game and every attack had him at the forefront of it.
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)