Stranraer 1 (1)
Chris Aitken pen 40
Forfar Athletic 1 (4)
Gavin Swankie pen 53
Derek Young reckons the side have what it takes to go on and defeat Alloa after Forfar Athletic advanced to the Championship Play Off Final with a draw against Stranraer.
A Gavin Swankie penalty in the second half countered Chris Aitken’s spot kick before half time and the Loons could have scored more had it not been for keeper David Mitchell.
Speaking after the game, Young said “I thought we did really well, in the first half we stifled them, don’t think Rab had a save to make and we had a couple of chances ourselves that we could have buried. Trav’s dived in at the penalty, he knows that himself, you can see his reaction and they’ve scored so that put a bit of pressure on but I think the way we came out for the second half and the way we played, we deserved to go through. It was good that we got the penalty, Gav’s stuck it away brilliantly, I think after that we were comfortable.”
“Dick wasn’t happy with Trav at half time, that’s for sure! It’s a team game though, everyone knew what we had to do today, we proved in the first half that we could stifle them, they were playing a lot of long balls, Dods and Michael Dunlop were dealing with them quite well. I thought we deserved to win the game today like we did during the week.”
Swankie’s goal made an uphill battle for Stranraer even steeper, with the side then needing at least three goals to take the game to extra time.
“That’s what we were looking for, if we could get a goal, that would more or less kill the game and that showed, we just had to control the game mentally, that’s what we did and we got the result we needed.”
“I think we can beat Alloa over the two legs, the way we played on Wednesday and in patches in the second half attacking wise, I think we’re a bit of a team when we pass the ball about and open teams up. We’ve got a solid enough defence so we’ve got a good enough team to beat anyone and I feel we can cause a wee upset.”
The Loons made two changes from the midweek win, with Stuart Malcolm suspended and Danny Denholm dropping to the bench, James Dale and Michael Dunlop came in, the latter returning from suspension himself.
Stranarer hunted for the first goal early on, hoping that if they had scored they could knock Forfar’s confidence and grab another couple but Willie Gibson fired a free kick three minutes in.
Martyn Fotheringham then went close for Forfar twice in the first quarter of an hour, both times sending a shot into Mitchell’s arms.
After 26 minutes Darren Dods went the closest any side had so far, taking down Fotheringham’s corner before turning and firing a half volley towards the top corner, Mitchell doing brilliantly to tip the effort over.
Ten minutes later Mitchell blocked another shot, this time a Swankie effort before Stranraer went ahead in the 40th minute. Willie Gibson was brought down by Michael Travis and Chris Aitken stepped up to send Rab Douglas the wrong way, bringing the aggregate score to 3-1, still in Forfar’s favour.
Two minutes after the Loons almost equalised, the ever influential Swankie seeing a 25 yard effort tipped over by Mitchell again.
HALF TIME: Stranraer 1 Forfar Athletic 0
In the 49th minute Mitchell was on hand again to deny Chris Templeman after the striker was laid off by sub Danny Denholm.
Just eight minutes into the second half, Forfar equalised through another penalty after Omar Kader was bundled over by Sean Winter, Swankie slotting home past Mitchell.
Winter almost made amends for his error minutes later with a close range volley but Travis made a fantastic last ditch stop almost on the line.
A quick Gavin Malin free kick caused bother in the 61st minute, Swankie seeing a shot blocked before the ball was knocked away off Denholm’s toes as he shaped up to shoot. From the corner Michael Travis saw his header cleared off the line, Forfar now starting to look the better side.
Swankie had yet another shot blocked a minute before Mitchell palmed away his effort, from this corner Gavin Malin volleyed wide.
In the 76th minute, unsurprisingly, Mitchell denied Swankie after being set up by Malin, with Dods nodding Denholm’s corner wide of the mark.
Winter forced a save from Douglas with nine minutes left as Stranraer hopes of taking the tie into extra time started to fade.
Sub Craig Smith looked decent when he came on and almost grabbed himself a goal in injury time, striking across goal with Mitchell beaten.
Derek Young praised youngster Michael Kennedy after the game, the 18 year old playing his second senior game while not looking out of place “He’s come in and he’s been fantastic, left back’s been a bit of a problem all season, with boys getting injured, Iain Campbell came in on loan for a bit, Jim Paterson came in for a bit. The wee lad’s come out of nowhere to be honest and he’s showed everyone what he’s made of. He’s going to make one or two mistakes but he recovers well, if he makes a mistake, he gets straight back in and sorts himself out so I’m really pleased for him, it helps him for next season getting this experience.”
The Loons will take on Alloa on Wednesday at Station Park before travelling to the Indodrill Stadium on Sunday, with both games live on BBC ALBA.
Stranraer: David Mitchell, Craig Pettigrew, Jackson Longridge, Scott Robertson, Frank McKeown, Chris Aitken (Danny Stoney 62), Sean Winter, Steven Bell, Craig Malcolm (Stephen Stirling 68), Jon McShane (Jamie Longworth 53), Willie Gibson.
Subs not used: Barry Russell, Scott Rumsby, Daniel Tobin (gk)
Forfar Athletic: Rab Douglas, Michael Travis, Michael Kennedy, Michael Dunlop, Darren Dods, Derek Young, Omar Kader, Martyn Fotheringham (Danny Denholm 46), Chris Templeman (Craig Smith 71), Gavin Swankie, James Dale (Gavin Malin 58)
Subs not used: Cameron Clark, Kerr Hay, James Yates, Jason King (gk)