Interview with Forfar Farmington defender Jade McLaren

Forfar Farmington defender Jade McLaren hopes the side can build on last season’s experience and become a potential banana skin for the likes of Rangers, Hibernian and Spartans in the upcoming Scottish Women’s Premier League season.jade mclaren

‘I’m really looking forward to the coming season for the new challenges and just to see how much as a team we have improved over the last year. I think this will be another difficult season because the majority of the team are still young and are still developing as footballers, as am I but I do think we will give some of the bigger teams a run for their money this season. It will also be good having the youths coming through and making their debuts this season to show the young talent Forfar has in their arsenal.’

‘Pre season has been brilliant so far and it’s good to be back with the team after the break. I’m really enjoying the training and the gym as well as the morning sessions with regionals as I’m not one who likes the December break due to the lack of training!

16 year old McLaren made her debut midway through the 2013 season and has played just over 30 games since then. Having experienced players around her has helped her improve her game, with the recently departed Alana Bruce being one of those. The departure of Alana is one I will be lost without especially on a game day as she was one of the players who was always beside me on the pitch and if I was to do something wrong, she was there to fix it so to speak! When I first started playing for the Premier League side she was the one who looked after me, both on the pitch and in the changing room beforehand, but I do wish her the best of luck at Aberdeen, they are lucky to have gained a great player like Alana.’

‘At the same time though Gemma Collier has returned which I am very excited about for this season as she was another one who welcomed me in when I joined the senior squad and she was the one I looked up to as a player!’

Last season McLaren was unlucky to miss out on a call up to the Scotland u17 set up, after putting in some good performances, although she wasn’t too disheartened and has set her sights on impressing the coaches this season.

‘I am looking forward to hopefully make it into Scotland training camps this year but I saw last year as more of a learning year. I took things that needed to be improved from the camp and have worked on it ever since.’

‘I feel as though I have improved since August and will be looking to try and impress the likes of Pauline Hamill and Pauline Macdonald throughout the coming year.’

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Stirling Albion 0 Forfar Athletic 1 (SPFL League One) 24th January 2015

Stirling Albion                   0

 

Forfar Athletic                  1

Gavin Malin 37

Gavin Malin’s second goal in three games ensured Forfar Athletic left with all three points on Saturday against strugglers Stirling Albion.

A fantastic passing move in eight minutes before half time ended with Malin sweeping the ball home and Albion weren’t helped by having skipper Chris Smith sent off for a last man foul on Martyn Fotheringham 43 seconds into the second half.

Just one change was made after last week’s win over Stenhousemuir, with the injured Dale Hilson replaced by Danny Denholm, who scored the winner in the aforementioned game.

The Loons started well and almost took the lead in the eighth minute when Iain Campbell’s free kick was knocked down by Michael Travis but skipper Gavin Swankie sent his volley inches over former Forfar keeper Greg Paterson’s bar.

In the twelfth minute Swankie sent a through ball to Denholm and his cross was cleared at the near post, if the defender hadn’t done so Omar Kader would have almost certainly netted.

It was the same less than a minute later, Denholm and Martyn Fotheringham combining before Campbell swung the ball into the box but Paterson held the ball with Fotheringham close.

Swankie rounded the keeper in the 16th minute after Fotheringham won the ball in a 50-50 challenge, unfortunately for Swankie, the ball hit Paterson and he was able to gather before Swankie slotted home.

Just before the half hour mark Campbell sent another cross into the box and Denholm managed to set up Fotheringham but Chris Smith got a foot in front of his effort and the ball was cleared.

The Loons took the lead in the 37th minute, some great passing on the left hand side carved a poor Albion defence apart and Gavin Swankie was able to make his way to the byline before cutting the ball back for Gavin Malin to fire home, scoring his second goal in the last three games.

Stirling had been struggling to get into the game and it was made even more difficult for the side bottom of the league just 43 seconds after half time, Fotheringham chased after a clearance and once he collected it on the edge of the Stirling box he was bundled over by defender Chris Smith. Referee Barry Cook opted to send Smith off, with the home support and management feeling it was a harsh decision.

Fotheringham took the free kick awarded after that foul but the set piece flew inches over the bar.

The popular midfielder then curled a shot past the post in the 54th minute and from the resulting goal kick, the ball was headed back towards the Stirling goal by Stuart Malcolm, Gavin Swankie passed to Denholm but he could only fire over.

Stirling had their first shot on goal in the 58th minute when Angus Beith sent a free kick into Rab Douglas’ arms.

In the 66th minute Fotheringham had a shot deflected wide as the Loons looked more likely to score the next goal, if there was to be one.

Craig Wedderburn sent a header wide from Beith’s corner with nineteen minutes left whilst at the other end Fotheringham, Swankie and Derek Young combined to allow Denholm a shot on goal, the winger saw his chance hit the sidenetting.

Gavin Malin went close again in the 83rd minute, sub Chris Templeman flicked a long ball into Gavin Swankie’s path and he cut the ball back for the midfielder who sent the ball just over the bar with Paterson beaten.

Rab Douglas did well to gather Beith’s effort in the last minute, the shot being Albion’s first shot on goal that wasn’t from a free kick.

The result means the Loons are now just a point off leaders Stranraer with a game in hand after the Stair Park men drew at Airdrieonians.

Ramblings of a Loon’s Player of the Match: Martyn Fotheringham

Stirling Albion: Greg Paterson, Ross McGeachie, Kevin McKinlay, Angus Beith, Craig Wedderburn, Chris Smith, Phil Johnston (Chris Paton 77), Craig Comrie, Scott Shepherd (Lee Hamilton 49), Gordon Smith, Sandy Cunningham.

Subs not used: Willie Robertson, Ross Forsyth, Jordan Herron, David McClune, Callum Reidford (GK).

Forfar Athletic: Rab Douglas, Michael Travis, Iain Campbell, Stuart Malcolm, Darren Dods, Derek Young (Stephen Husband 90), Omar Kader (Chris Templeman 70), Gavin Malin, Martyn Fotheringham (James Dale 78), Gavin Swankie, Danny Denholm

Subs not used: Michael Dunlop, Aaron James, Andrew Steeves, Ross Salmon (gk)

Forfar Athletic 1 Stenhousemuir 0 (SPFL League One) 17th January 2015

Forfar Athletic                  1

Danny Denholm 77

Stenhousemuir                                0

Forfar Athletic won for the first time in four games after a Danny Denholm goal was enough to see off Stenhousemuir in a scrappy match.

With thirteen minutes of the game left, Denholm backheeled Swankie’s cross past Greg Fleming, moving the Loons up to second in League One, three points behind leaders Stranraer with a game in hand.

Derek Young appeared for the first time in four months after injury as one of five changes, with Martyn Fotheringham, Gavin Malin and Omar Kader starting while Iain Campbell returned to the club on Friday for a month from Cowdenbeath. Stephen Husband, Scott Smith, Michael Dunlop dropped to the bench but Chris Templeman and Mark Baxter missed out through injury.

The Loons were dealt a massive blow less than five minutes into the game when Dale Hilson went down holding his hamstring and after attempting to play on after treatment, was forced off to be replaced by winger Danny Denholm.

In the eleventh minute Fotheringham, who was playing up front, sent a good cross into the box but the ball was cleared with Omar Kader waiting. The Warriors keeper Fleming also punched away Iain Campbell’s corner before anyone could get their head on it.

Stenhousemuir had the first shot on goal in the 21st minute, Bryan Hodge’s free kick took a slight deflection on its way over the crossbar. Josh Watt also saw his shot diverted wide by a Forfar defender.

Forfar went even closer than them in the closing stages of the first half, first Gavin Malin’s through ball was mat by Danny Denholm and he saw his shot turned wide before Michael Travis’ back post header from Fotheringham’s corner was pushed away by Fleming.

Denholm then nodded past the post from Iain Campbell’s corner seconds before the half time whistle.

The second half looked to be slightly more entertaining than the first, with a few chances in the first ten minutes, Hodge blasting over from the edge of the box for the visitors before Denholm went the closest anyone had, Gavin Swankie giving Omar Kader the ball on the right, he sent a ball into the box but Denholm’s header was stopped on the line by Ross Meechan.

A minute after Denholm’s chance, he set up Martyn Fotheringham but his shot trickled past Fleming’s post with the keeper beaten.

After a period where no chances were created, James Dale and Fotheringham saw shots blocked in a crowded penalty area, Iain Campbell’s cross causing problems for the Stenhousemuir defence, ending in Fotheringham’s shot being stopped by a defender but his attempted clearance was sliced and had to be headed over by his teammate.

Denholm grabbed all three points for the Loons with thirteen minutes left, Michael Travis’s cross found no one but Swankie picked the ball up on the left and put the ball back towards the near post and winger Denholm backheeled it through the keeper’s legs.

The goal moved the Loons up to second in the league with Greenock Morton struggling against Ayr, drawing one all and they are now only three points behind leaders Stranraer after they were defeated by the Loons’ local rivals Brechin, who are on a fantastic run of form.

Forfar Athletic: Rab Douglas, Michael Travis, Iain Campbell, Stuart Malcolm, Darren Dods, Derek Young, Omar Kader, Gavin Malin (James Dale 56), Martyn Fotheringham (Stephen Husband 81), Gavin Swankie, Dale Hilson (Danny Denholm 8)

Subs not used: Michael Dunlop, Aaron James, Scott Smith, Ross Salmon (gk)

Stenhousemuir: Greg Fleming, Ross Meechan, Alan Lithgow, Ross McMillan, Ciaran Summers, Keiran Millar, Sean Dickson (Jamie McCormack (t) 62), Bryan Hodge, Colin McMenamin, Josh Watt (Martin Grehan 86), Fraser Eddington (Kris Faulds 71)

Subs not used: Robbie Duncan, Gregor Fotheringham, Lee Gallacher, Chris Smith (gk)

Interview with Damon Neish, Forfar Farmington Head Coach

Forfar Farmington returned to training on Friday for the first pre-season session and Head Coach Damon Neish believes having a settled squad will be key to the upcoming season.

‘It’ll be good to have a year’s senior experience behind the majority of the squad, they’re a solid set of girls, we’ve got a good squad, this was the first session tonight (Friday) and there’s still four or five girls that couldn’t make tonight. We’ve got ourselves a fairly settled squad, still very young but Nivana Crighton’s come in tonight and done really well, once she’s got her legs underneath her, she’ll get even better. Gemma Collier is coming in as well so I’m looking forward to the new season.’

Neish is hopeful that Crighton and Collier will sign soon but has lost a player with 21 years at the club to league rivals Aberdeen. ‘Alana Bruce decided it was time to take up a new challenge, she’s given absolutely everything to this club, we relied really heavily on her last year and leaned on her a lot of the time and it’s time that some of the girls to learn to stand by themselves. Alana needed that challenge herself to reignite her passion for football so hopefully she gets that at Aberdeen.’

‘I’m still working on signings, Nivana is hopefully going to put pen to paper fairly soon as well as Gemma and that would give us a good size of squad. Hopefully over the course of pre-season we’ll add two more and then I’d be happy with that.’

‘You’ve got to also remember, we’ve got a lot of quality within the development team, Derrian Gollan has still to come in, Nikki Grant had a fantastic year last season, there’s cover in the goalkeeping position and lots of positions in the development team so I think we’re doing not bad.’

The side has four friendlies arranged for February, with games every Sunday against Aberdeen, Motherwell, Hibernian Development and St Andrews University. The first Sunday of March will see them entertain Hutchison Vale in the League Cup. ‘We never beat them last year so I’ve never had the satisfaction of a win over them so that’s obviously the aim for the first game of the season. We know how good they are, when we played them it was never an easy game, we never had an easy minute against them so it’ll be a tough fight. We’re looking forward to it though, the girls are excited.’

Midfielder Keira Johnstone will return this season after the 16 year old spent almost the whole of 2014 out after suffering a dislocated knee in March. ‘Having her back is like a new signing, a quality new signing at that. She’s really benefitting from the gym work that we’re doing in Dundee, the injury prevention stuff to stop her going through what she went through last year, I’m really looking forward to Keira getting started.’

‘I’m really excited about the new season now, I can’t wait. It feels like it’s been a long off season and everyone’s dying to get back into it so I’m really looking forward to it.’ 

Stranraer 4 Forfar Athletic 2 (SPFL League One) 10th January 2015

Stranraer                             4

Craig Malcolm 33, 70, Steven Bell 37, Jackson Longridge 90

Forfar Athletic                  2

Dale Hilson 46, Gavin Malin 90

Forfar Athletic fell to a 4-2 defeat away to League One leaders Stranraer on Saturday, and as well as dropping to third, are now six points behind the Stair Park men.

Despite pulling goals back through Dale Hilson and sub Gavin Malin, the Loons were unable to make the long journey home with any points.

After last week’s derby defeat, three changes were made, after Jim Paterson had now moved to Dunfermline, Omar Kader and Danny Denholm dropped to the bench with Michael Travis making his official debut, Stuart Malcolm returning to the heart of defence and Chris Templeman starting up front. Youth player Jason King was named as a trialist on the bench with Ross Salmon unavailable.

Sean Winter wasted Stranraer’s first chance in the third minute, firing past the post when one on one with Rab Douglas. Willie Gibson sent an effort at Douglas before Winter nodded over from the winger’s corner in the 7th minute.

Forfar struggled to get into the game and the closest they came to a chance was Chris Templeman’s weak shot from an angle at David Mitchell.

The home side took the lead in the 33rd minute after Craig Malcolm fooled Michael Dunlop into a tackle and he stepped past him before curling home. It was two nil four minutes later in bizarre fashion, Douglas tipped a Steven Bell shot onto the post but the ball came back and went in off the keeper’s back.

Chris Templeman saw a volley held by Mitchell as they went into half time trailing the league leaders.

Just over sixty seconds into the second half Forfar reduced the deficit, Dale Hilson weaving past players before firing home under Mitchell.

Scott Smith set up Templeman in the 50th minute but Mitchell was more than capable of holding the shot. Craig Pettigrew and Jamie Longworth wasted chances before Stranraer restored their two goal advantage with twenty minutes left, Gibson swinging a free kick in for Craig Malcolm to sweep home for his second of the match.

Bringing on subs Omar Kader and Gavin Malin seemed to galvanise the Loons in the final ten minutes, with Swankie setting up Malin for a shot that was pushed wide before the subs combined for Chris Templeman to volley over the bar.

Mark Baxter’s cross in the 86th minute found Templeman but his flick on was stabbed wide by Kader, captain Swankie sending an attempt at the keeper two minutes later from Michael Travis’ long ball.

Kader saw his follow up to Templeman’s saved effort cleared off the line before Malin slipped the ball past the keeper in the last minute to give the side and travelling support hope they could salvage something.

Those hopes were dashed almost straight away as left back Jackson Longridge made sure of the result with the first attack after kick off. Seconds before the final whistle Swankie sent a shot past the post with Mitchell beaten.

Stranraer: David Mitchell, Craig Pettigrew, Jackson Longridge, Scott Rumsby, Frank McKeown, Steven Bell, Sean Winter, Grant Gallagher, Craig Malcolm (Danny Storey 90), Jamie Longworth (Jon McShane 71), Willie Gibson (Barry Russell 84)

Subs not used: Chris Aitken, Stephen Stirling, Daniel Tobin (gk)

Forfar Athletic: Rab Douglas, Michael Dunlop (James Dale 66), Mark Baxter, Stuart Malcolm, Darren Dods, Scott Smith (Gavin Malin 71), Michael Travis, Stephen Husband (Omar Kader 71), Chris Templeman, Gavin Swankie, Dale Hilson.

Subs not used: Martyn Fotheringham, Danny Denholm, Aaron James, Trialist

Forfar Athletic 0 Brechin City 2 (SPFL League One) 3rd January 2015

Forfar Athletic                  0

 

Brechin City                       2

Jamie Masson 12, Alan Trouten 80

Forfar Athletic started their 2015 poorly after a 2-0 derby loss to Brechin City at Station Park.

Goals in each half from Jamie Masson and Alan Trouten ensured that the three points and derby bragging rights went back to Glebe Park.

This was the Loons first home loss in the league since April last year and meant the side fell three points behind leaders Stranraer, who they will face next week.

After their last game two weeks ago, Dick Campbell made just one change, Omar Kader in for Martyn Fotheringham, while Jim Paterson played his last game for the side, new signing Michael Travis had to settle for a place on the bench.

Gavin Swankie and Michael Dunlop saw chances go past the post early on before Swankie had the ball in the net but the whistle had already gone for an apparent foul by Michael Dunlop as he knocked the ball down.

City took the lead in the twelfth minute when Bobby Barr’s dangerous run down the left ended in the ball reaching midfielder Jamie Masson and he stabbed the ball past Rab Douglas in his last game for the Glebe Park side.

Alan Trouten almost doubled the lead four minutes later, Barr causing bother again on the left side before swinging a cross in for Trouten to fire wide.

Dunlop sent another header the wrong side of the post as the Loons struggled to create anything. Gary Fusco moved back to Brechin from Forfar in the summer and came close to scoring against his former employers, firing wide from outside the box.

Two minutes before half time Paul McLean saw his long range effort held by Douglas as City looked the more dangerous side at half time.

Five minutes into the second half Jim Paterson threatened after collecting a Mark Baxter ball but Graeme Smith held the long range effort comfortably.

Dunlop again headed wide before Gavin Swankie had a shot blocked in the 56th minute, Scott Smith wasting the follow up.

Brechin’s Andy Jackson and Craig Wighton forced Douglas into action in quick succession, while at the other end Darren Dods’ sent Smith’s corner over the bar.

Gavin Swankie and Dale Hilson tried to get an equaliser with time running out, Hilson setting up Swankie but his shot was deflected wide before Hilson sent his effort the same way from Paterson’s throw.

With ten minutes to go Trouten sealed all three points for City, slipping the ball under Douglas after Wighton did well to get the ball into the box.

The closest anyone came to scoring in the final moments was Gavin Malin’s 40 yard effort that went centimetres over the bar with Smith beaten.

Forfar Athletic: Rab Douglas, Mark Baxter, Jim Paterson, Michael Dunlop, Darren Dods, Scott Smith (Gavin Malin 76, Omar Kader (Chris Templeman 65), Stephen Husband, Dale Hilson (Martyn Fotheringham 79), Gavin Swankie, Danny Denholm.

Subs not used: Stuart Malcolm, James Dale, Michael Travis, Ross Salmon (gk)

Brechin City: Graeme Smith, Paul McLean, Colin Hamilton, Darren McCormack, Gerry McLauchlan, Gary Fusco, Alan Trouten (Ryan Ferguson 90), Jamie Masson (Craig Molloy 65), Andy Jackson, Craig Wighton (Robert Thomson 90), Bobby Barr

Subs not used: Ewan McNeill, Greg Cameron, Steven Jackson, Ben Tough (gk)