Forfar Athletic 3 Stranraer 0 (SPFL Championship Play-Off Semi Final First Leg) 6th May 2015

Forfar Athletic                    3

Omar Kader 60, Gavin Swankie 85, Kerr Hay 90

Stranraer                             0

Forfar Athletic have one foot in the Scottish Championship play-off final after a comfortable 3-0 win over Stranraer on Wednesday at Station Park.

After dominating the first hour with no goals to show for it, Omar Kader, Gavin Swankie and a first ever senior goal for Kerr Hay sealed the victory for the Loons.

With Michael Dunlop suspended and Dale Hilson injured, there were three changes from the defeat to Ayr at the weekend, with Gavin Malin also dropping to the bench. Omar Kader and Derek Young came in and there was a debut for 18 year old left back Michael Kennedy.

The Loons started off strongly with Gavin Swankie seeing his effort deflected wide before Stuart Malcolm’s header was cleared off the line within the first ninety seconds.

In the fourth minute Swankie volleyed over from Martyn Fotheringham’s corner as it seemed Forfar were going for the jugular straight from the beginning.

Omar Kader and Swankie had shots blocked in the 15th minute, with the captain firing into David Mitchell’s arms a minute later.

Kader and Swankie were involved yet again in the 23rd minute, Kader slipping a through ball for Danny Denholm, his chance wasn’t cleared properly, with Swankie seeing a half volley cleared off the line.

Stranraer had their first chance of the game after 26 minutes, Jamie Longworth giving the ball to Stephen Stirling but his effort was low and nowhere near troubling Rab Douglas as it rolled wide.

Michael Travis was the next to have a go at goal on the half hour mark, volleying a cross from Denholm into the grateful arms of Mitchell.

Six minutes before half time Denholm had a fantastic chance to put the Loons ahead, racing onto a Swankie flick on, although his shot was stopped by the boot of the keeper.

Stranraer went the closest they had all game four minutes into the second period, Douglas clawing away a goal bound header by Longworth.

In the 58th minute Gavin Swankie saw a lob come off the crossbar, with the rebound being blasted over by Kader.

Two minutes later Kader found the net, starting the move by threading a through ball for Swankie, his cross found Templeman but his diving header was saved on the line by Mitchell, Kader sweeping home the rebound for his fifth goal of the season.

He could have had a second a minute later but he sliced Swankie’s cross wide. Kader was to come off in the 71st minute for Kerr Hay making his second senior appearance, having played a quarter of an hour on Saturday.

In the 85th minute Hay almost had a big impact, hitting the post with Mitchell beaten before seeing his follow up effort knocked wide. From the resulting corner by Martyn Fotheringham, Swankie lobbed the keeper from eighteen yards, despite Mitchell getting his fingertips to it, he couldn’t get enough of a touch to palm it away.

It was three nil in injury time, fellow sub Craig Smith doing well on the left before giving the ball to Fotheringham and his low cross was hammered home by Hay, his first ever senior goal after just 37 minutes in total for the Loons.

The final whistle went and the Loons could be delighted with their performance, especially the three under 20’s players, Smith, Hay and Kennedy, who didn’t look out of place in the Forfar defence.

Thoughts now turn to Saturday’s long journey to Stranraer for the second leg and if they can play as well as they did on Wednesday, they will surely advance to the play off final to face Alloa Athletic or Brechin City, with the Wasps 2-0 ahead so far.

Forfar Athletic: Rab Douglas, Michael Travis (Gavin Malin 88), Michael Kennedy, Stuart Malcolm, Darren Dods, Derek Young, Omar Kader (Kerr Hay 71), Martyn Fotheringham, Chris Templeman (Craig Smith 73), Gavin Swankie, Danny Denholm.

Subs not used: James Dale, Cameron Clark, James Yates, Jason King (gk)

Stranraer: David Mitchell, Craig Pettigrew, Jackson Longridge, Scott Rumsby, Frank McKeown (Jon McShane 74), Steven Bell, Sean Winter, Scott Robertson, Stephen Stirling (Craig Malcolm 67), Jamie Longworth (Danny Stoney 67), Willie Gibson.

Subs not used: Barry Russell, Daniel Tobin (gk)

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