Forfar Athletic 3 Cove Rangers 0 (Pre-Season Friendly) 14th July 2014

Forfar Athletic     3

Paul McLellan 11, Kieran Stewart 49, Danny Denholm 79

Cove Rangers       0


A mixture of experience, youth and trialists helped Forfar Athletic keep their unbeaten run in pre-season with a 3-0 win over Highland League outfit Cove Rangers.

There were seven changes from last Thursday’s draw with Livingston, Douglas, Keiller, Smith, Templeman, McLellan and trialists Kieran Stewart and Andrew Steeves replacing Salmon, Malin, Dale, Malcolm, Swankie, Hilson and Denholm.

Cove fielded a familiar name or two in the form of ex-Loons keeper Sandy Wood and former Aberdeen player Chris Clark. They had the first chance of the game in the opening minute, John Smith seeing his long range effort tipped over by Rab Douglas.

Youngster Paul McLellan had excellent vision to swing a ball from the middle of the park to the left wing for Omar Kader to run on to, Kader reaching the touchling before cutting the ball back for Craig Smith but he could only send his volley wide. A minute later Jamie McAllister knocked the ball wide from a Danny Park cross.

The Loons took the lead after eleven minutes, Kader sent a great through ball for McLellan to run onto before slotting home inside the box past Wood.

They had a chance to extend the lead eight minutes later, Kader sending Smith clear this time and as Smith advanced on goal, he tried to round Wood but was taken out by the keeper and referee Steven Traynor awarded a penalty. Chris Templeman stepped up but his shot was pushed away by the keeper.

McLellan went close to grabbing his second of the game in the 26th minute, stepping up to fire a 25 yard free kick over. Smith also fired wide as the youngsters looked to give Dick Campbell food for thought over the coming season.

Michael Dunlop had a massive run down the right wing on the stroke of half time, sending in a great ball to Chris Templeman, the ball unfortunately getting tangled in his feet before the Cove defender poorly cleared, McLellan fired wide from the poor defending.

HALF TIME: Forfar Athletic 1 Cove Rangers 0

Four minutes into the second half it was two-nil, sub Gavin Malin swinging in a great corner for trialist Kieran Stewart to bullet home a header.

Fellow trialist Aaron James made a good block to deny Jamie McAllister in the 52nd minute, before McAllister nodded wide minutes later from a Chris Clark free-kick.

On the hour mark Cove sub Michael Selfridge should have scored when he collected a cross in the box before rounding sub keeper Ross Salmon, his shot then being blocked by a pile of bodies, Connor Scully blasting the loose ball wide.

The game started to slow down as each side made mass changes, seven being made in the space of fifteen minutes.

The third Loons trialist Andrew Steeves and then Gavin Swankie went close in a matter of minutes as the Loons started to get back into their stride after making their subs.

Danny Denholm added a third in the 79th minute, Dunlop sending a great ball forward for Dale Hilson to collect before pinging a ball across the face of Sandy Wood’s goal, Denholm popping up at the back post to stab home.

The closest anyone came to scoring in the final ten minutes was in the dying seconds when Kader’s cross was met by the defending Darren Kelly, his header fortunately for them flying inches past the post for a corner.

Ramblings of a Loon’s Player of the Match: Paul McLellan

Forfar Athletic: Rab Douglas 6 (Ross Salmon 56, 6), Michael Dunlop 8, Andrew Steeves (t) 7, Darren Dods 6 (Stuart Malcolm 46, 6), Aaron James (t) 7, Liam Keiller 6 (Gavin Malin 42, 7), Craig Smith 7 (Danny Denholm 62, 6), Kieran Stewart (t) 6, Chris Templeman 6 (Gavin Swankie 62, 6), Paul McLellan 8 (Dale Hilson 62, 6), Omar Kader 8.

Sub not used: James Dale.

Cove Rangers: Sandy Wood, Chris Clark (Stuart Taylor 86), Alan Redford (Ryan Robertson 81), Darren Kelly, Eric Watson, Clark Bain (Ryan Stewart 70), Danny Park (Adam McMillan 85), Connor Scully (Blair Yule 86), Jamie McAllister (Eric Thomson 76), John Smith (Michael Selfridge 55), Jamie Lennox (Daryll Nicoll 59).

Subs not used: Barrie Stephen, Craig Reid.





Forfar Athletic 1 Livingston 1 (Pre-Season Friendly) 10th July 2014

Forfar Athletic   1

Dale Hilson 44

Livingston           1

Kyle Jacobs 53

In an enjoyable passing game, Forfar Athletic and Livingston drew 1-1 on a hot Thursday night at the Loons’ second Station Park pre-season friendly.

Dick Campbell made four changes from Tuesday’s 4-1 win over Inverurie Locos, with James Dale, Dale Hilson, Ross Salmon and Darren Dods coming in for two trialists, Darren Hill and Chris Templeman. The bench was again full of youth, Liam Keiller, Craig Smith, Paul McLellan and James Yates taking their place there again with Templeman, Douglas and the left back trialist from Tuesday the other substitutes.

The Loons were the much better side in the first half, tearing Livingston to bits with their slick passing time and time again and had almost every chance in the first 45 with Danny Denholm, Gavin Swankie, James Dale and Omar Kader all going very close in the first twenty minutes.

Swankie had three chances around the half hour mark to open the scoring but keeper Darren Jamieson was on hand to save each effort. Hilson and Swankie combined in the 35th minute for a great chance, Denholm passing to Hilson who in turn slid a through ball for Swankie, he backheeled the ball into the path of the oncoming Hilson but his shot was saved well by Jamieson.

The only non-Loons chance of the first half came in the 42nd minute, Burton O’Brien’s effort from far out not really troubling young Ross Salmon.

Forfar took a deserved lead into half time when they scored a minute before the break, a poor pass by a Livingston player in midfield was collected by Omar Kader, he drove forward before placing a through ball into the box, Gavin Swankie let it roll past him for Hilson to run in and slot home.

HALF TIME: Forfar Athletic 1 Livingston 0

The visitors made eight substitutes at half time, with only Jamieson, Jason Talbot and Bradley Donaldson staying on.

They equalised in the 53rd minute when Kyle Jacobs slotted home from a Danny Mullen through ball.

Despite several chances for the Almondvale side, who were the better side in the second half, the closest Livingston came to scoring again was in the 78th minute, new signing Gary Glen beating several defenders with a great run, before his shot beat sub Rab Douglas but the trialist sub cleared the ball off the line.

Danny Denholm was very close to scoring the winner against his former club in the 87th minute as he collected a through ball from Swankie, his shot beating Jamieson but coming back off the post before being cleared by a defender.

Forfar Athletic: Ross Salmon (Rab Douglas 73), Michael Dunlop, Aaron James (t), Stuart Malcolm (Andrew Steeves (t) 52), Darren Dods, James Dale (Craig Smith 66), Omar Kader (Paul McLellan 72), Gavin Malin (Liam Keiller 61), Dale Hilson (Chris Templeman 46), Gavin Swankie, Danny Denholm.

Sub not used: James Yates.

Livingston: Darren Jamieson, Bradley Donaldson, Jason Talbot (Darren Moffat 81), Declan Gallagher (Callum Fordyce 46), Craig Sives (Jack Beaumont 46), Nejc Praprotnik (Shaun Rutherford 46), Michael McKenna (Myles Hippolyte 46), Burton O’Brien (Danny Mullen 46), Jordan White (Rob Ogleby 46), David Robertson (Kyle Jacobs 46), Mark Burchill (Gary Glen 46).

Sub not used: Callum Antell (gk).

Forfar Athletic 4 Inverurie Loco Works 1 (Pre-Season Friendly) 8th July 2014

Forfar Athletic                  4

Gavin Swankie 12, Chris Templeman 31, 45, Craig Smith 90

Inverurie Loco Works     1

Neil Gauld 46

Forfar Athletic started their pre-season at Station Park with a 4-1 win over Highland League runners up Inverurie Locos on a sunny Tuesday evening in what was a good run out for the squad.

Dick Campbell fielded a mixture of last season’s side, new signings, youth players and trialists against Inverurie, with Dale Hilson and Danny Denholm making their Station Park returns after signing for the Loons while Michael Dunlop also returned, although it was from a season long loan at Berwick Rangers. Three trialists started, with one on the bench alongside five of last season’s under 19 squad.

Forfar started off playing good football, the first opportunity coming after just four minutes when Omar Kader swung in a corner that the trialist wearing the number 8 shirt met with his head but could only nod the ball wide of the far post.

The trialist caused bother for the Locos defence again in the twelfth minute, slotting a ball through for Gavin Swankie, whose first shot was parried by ex-Loon Andy Reid but his follow up header fell into an empty net to give the home side the lead.

Nine minutes later he set up another chance, this time cutting the ball in from the right wing for Chris Templeman who opted to shoot wide rather than pass to the waiting Swankie. He then had a long range effort blocked by a defender as the midfielder with no name looked to impress Dick Campbell.

On the half hour mark Omar Kader and Gavin Malin combined to set up Danny Denholm, his effort pushed away by Reid as Forfar looked increasingly like doubling their advantage. A minute later they did just that when a free kick was passed to Denholm and his low cross to the front post was flicked into the net by Templeman from a tight angle.

Ten minutes before half time, Inverurie had their first proper chance on goal, David Ross testing Darren Hill from the edge of the box, forcing a corner. From that corner Neil Gauld had a shot blocked by the trialist left back on the line before his follow up was deflected over.

In the 37th minute a defensive lapse allowed Ross to race clear but his shot was stopped by Hill while his second opportunity was cleared for a corner that came to nothing.

The Aberdeenshire outfit had their own defensive error on the stroke of half time, Reid’s poor pass to a defender allowing an alert Chris Templeman to intercept and cooly stroke past Reid for his second and Forfar’s third.

HALF TIME: Forfar Athletic 3 Inverurie Locos 0

Less than two minutes into the second half the away side had pulled a goal back, Neil McLean’s shot was turned round the post and from Mark Souter’s corner Neil Gauld bundled the ball home.

The trialist left back had his own chance in the 56th minute, collecting a Gavin Malin cut back inside the box but as he shaped up to shoot the ball was taken off his toes by a defender.

A minute later Malin created another chance, this time swinging in a corner for Darren Dods to blast a header towards goal, only for Ross Still to head off the line.

Gauld had a half volley pushed away by Hill just after the hour mark, at the other end sub Craig Smith set up Chris Templeman but Templeman curled his effort wide.

In the 77th minute the impressive James Yates, who had come on as a sub in the first half, went close to scoring from long range with a shot that swerved a lot as it headed towards goal, sub keeper Scott Mathieson caught the shot well though.

Sub and now permanent signing Dale Hilson raced clear of the Locos defence a minute later, attempting to lob Mathieson but the lob was too low and the keeper managed to tip the effort away.

The Loons put the final shine onto the scoreline in the final minute, Craig Smith latched onto a through ball before rounding Mathieson and slotting home from a tight angle to make it 4-1.

Ramblings of a Loon’s Player of the Match: The trialist at number three, who was ex St Johnstone left back Andrew Steeves, was up and down the left flank all night and looks like he would be a great signing.

Forfar Athletic: Darren Hill 6 (Ross Salmon 58, 6), Michael Dunlop 6 (James Yates 42, 8), Andrew Steeves (t) 8, Stuart Malcolm 6 (Darren Dods 46, 6), A Trialist 7, Gavin Malin 7 (James Dale 58, 6), Omar Kader 6 (Craig Smith 58, 7), B Trialist 7 (Liam Keiller 58, 6), Chris Templeman 7 (Paul McLellan 70, 5), Gavin Swankie 7 (Liam Campbell (t) 83, 4), Danny Denholm 7 (Dale Hilson 58, 6).

Inverurie Loco Works: Andy Reid (Scott Mathieson 46), Marc Young (Kieran Adams 46), Greg Mitchell (Ross Still 46), Scott Begg, Ross Anderson (Sam Pugh 73), Ryan Broadhurst, David Ross (Kyle Gordon 84), Mark Souter (Daniel Crisp 79), Neil Gauld, Neil McLean, Andy Hunter (Chris Hay 88).

Sub not used: Kenny Coull.

Interview with Forfar Farmington’s Nicola Davidson and Alana Bruce

On Tuesday night I interviewed Forfar Farmington’s captain Nicola Davidson and defender Alana Bruce on their thoughts on the season so far and other things such as how they had felt young players in the squad had adapted to playing in the Scottish Women’s Premier League having been forced to after almost every senior player left the club over the winter.

With the first half of the season over with, what are your thoughts on how it’s gone so far?

Alana Bruce: I didn’t take part until the later on in the season but as far as I’m concerned it’s been a difficult one. It’s a difficult one to comment on too considering we’ve had such success in the past couple of seasons, it’s difficult to hit the ground as hard as we have. As far as I’m concerned the youngsters have come on a lot from what I’ve watched in the earlier games and then playing with them, they’ve certainly grown into that player that they need to become to compete in the Premier League and hopefully keep us up.

Nicola Davidson: I think it’s just been a learning curve for the young ones, a big step for them to take, we had quite a hard start to the season but there’s not really much to comment on.

How do you feel the youngsters have adjusted to their first season at senior level?

Nicola Davidson: Some of them are still learning and they’ve still got a bit to go because it is a big step to take but some of them have taken to it like a duck to water, they’ve adjusted really well, haven’t been shy and have been quite confident, which is good.

Alana Bruce: It’s been difficult for them, obviously in the past they’ve had the luxury of being able to come into games later on, like subbed on in the 80th minute and it gives them a little feel for it but this season they’ve been thrown in at the deep end, they’ve floated for the most part and done well. They build their strength during team training and applying themselves at training to hopefully make themselves stand out more on the Sunday and be strong enough to take on the opposition of women that are twice their ages. I think they’ve done quite well to adapt to that under the circumstances that led to that happening.

Has the season’s split come at a bad time with the side coming into form in the past couple of games?

Nicola Davidson: Yes and no. I think no because it’s good to get the split, we can regroup, work on the things we need to work on and become stronger and better. Yes because I think we are just finding our way, maybe another couple of games we would have settled with, but it’s maybe a good chance to regroup I guess.

Alana Bruce: I used to think of the split in the season as, well, it was always such a positive thing for us to hope we would be in the top six and that it’d be a big game every week, that’s what you thrive on and it’s been the same this time, I’m so glad there has been a split because, like Nicola said, it gives us a chance to regroup and play teams that are in and around our calibre, teams that will give us the confidence like with Sunday’s game. That was a huge confidence boost for the girls, getting shots away, playing passing, the things we need to be developing within this close season in order to push on in the second half of the season and use that as a platform. Hopefully Sunday is the start of something good.

What are your hopes for the second half of the season?

Nicola Davidson: Train hard, play hard and finish as high as we can.

Alana Bruce: Obviously the start of the season wasn’t ideal and we found ourselves rock bottom, but to take from that win on Sunday the three points we need to get off the bottom, and that’ll be the last time we’re there. In the second half of the season we’re looking to push on, have a good couple of games against the likes of Hamilton Accies who took points off us. Hamilton were good but indeed have a couple of players from other clubs who are bolstering them at the moment. If we can knit ourselves together, push on and get as many points as we can out of the second half of the season then certainly three points every game is what we’re aiming for, that’s what we want.

After my questions Nicola and Alana had some more comments:

Alana Bruce: It’s difficult with regards to the coaching staff, Paul’s found himself on his own again and it will be difficult so let’s hope this second half sees us getting a bit more support coaching wise and Paul getting more support coaching wise as it will then hopefully help us on the pitch, it’s not easy doing everything by yourself.

Nicola Davidson: Let’s put this season down as a learning curve. It’s been an experience and an adventure for the younger ones.

Alana Bruce: It’s difficult to get players into the Premier League because players don’t want to be pushing themselves, they’re quite happy to play in the first division and second division and just scutter about, not push themselves to their full potential. There is plenty that could play in this league, they just don’t want to push themselves.

The SWPL side’s fixtures for the second half of the season are as follows:

27th July – Hamilton Accies (home)

10th August – Queen’s Park (away)

17th August – Spartans (home) in the Scottish Cup 3rd Round

24th August – Hutchison Vale (home)

31st August – Buchan (away)

7th September – Inverness City (home)

21st September – Hamilton Accies (away)

5th October – Queen’s Park (home)

12th October – Hutchison Vale (away)

26th October – Buchan (home)

2nd November – Inverness City (away)