East Fife 1 Forfar Athletic 1, 4-5 pens (League Cup Group B) 22nd July 2018

Forfar Athletic came away with a bonus point after a 5-4 penalty win over East Fife in the Betfred Cup with the sides unable to be separated after 90 minutes.

Anton Dowds gave the Fifers the lead early on but John Baird equalised with Chris Kane sent off for a high challenge on Dylan Easton midway through the first half.

Baird’s spot kick was saved by former Loons loanee Brett Long but Marc McCallum denied Ross Davidson and Daryll Meggatt allowing Thomas Reilly to earn the bonus point.

Two changes were made from the midweek defeat to Falkirk with John Kelly and Darren Whyte replaced by Gary Fraser and John Baird.

The first chance of the game fell to Dylan Easton in the fifth minute when he fired straight at Brett Long.

East Fife took the lead sixty seconds later; Kevin Smith saw his shot parried by McCallum, however Anton Dowds was able to force the loose ball over the line despite Jamie Bain’s attempts to clear.

Dale Hilson looked to level things just after the quarter hour mark with a low effort that creeped just past the post while at the other end Scott Agnew curled wide.

In the 27th minute the hosts were reduced to ten men with a chest high challenge on Easton by Chris Kane, giving referee Lloyd Wilson no choice but to show Kane a red card.

The disadvantage wasn’t to deter the Fifers however with Agnew hitting the post five minutes later before McBride saw his header pushed over the bar by McCallum.

Forfar equalised a minute before the break; Hilson’s run into the box ending in his shot deflecting into the path of John Baird to slot home for his first Loons goal.

The second half saw both sides come close to taking the lead with Agnew and Baird being denied by McCallum and Long respectively.

Murray Mackintosh saw his swirling 30 yard effort unorthodoxly saved by Long while Reilly blasted over in the 73rd minute when he was presented with a golden opportunity.

Baird failed to beat Long as the game edged to a close but the final chance fell to Pat Slattery and he could only drag his effort past the post.

Under the rules of the League Cup group stage, any draw after 90 minutes heads to a penalty shoot-out to determine who takes two points from the match, with the loser taking the standard one point for a draw.

The first three penalties were all netted with Craig Watson and Aaron Dunsmore scoring for East Fife while Andy Munro scored for the Loons.

John Baird was first to have his penalty saved and Slattery put East Fife 3-1 ahead. Dale Hilson reduced the deficit with Marc McCallum giving Forfar the chance to level things as he denied Ross Davidson.

Ross Meechan, Anton Dowds and Dylan Easton all converted their spot kicks to take it to sudden death.

East Fife’s Darryl Meggatt stepped up to take their sixth penalty but McCallum pulled off his second shoot-out save, allowing Thomas Reilly to net his penalty and give the Loons the bonus point.

East Fife: Long, Kane, Dunlop, Watson, Smith, Agnew (Thomson 65), McBride (Slattery 65), Dowds, Davidson, Meggatt, Bell (Dunsmore 29)

Subs not used: Court, Watt, Couser

Forfar Athletic: McCallum, Meechan, Bain, Munro, Travis (Kelly 76), Reilly, Fraser (Whyte 67), Mackintosh, Hilson, Easton, Baird

Subs not used: Malone, Coupe, Starkey, Clark, Muir

Forfar Athletic 0 Greenock Morton 0 (Pre-Season Friendly) 7th July 2018

Forfar Athletic continued their preparations for the competitive season with a goalless draw against Greenock Morton on Saturday.

Jim Weir’s side kept their second clean sheet in a row against a Championship side at a sunny Station Park but could have won as they had two goals ruled out for offside.

There was just one addition to the squad that faced Ayr last week as Dale Hilson returned while Eddie Malone and Dylan Easton dropped to the bench to make way for Hilson and Murray Mackintosh in the only two changes.

The game wasn’t entirely one that will stick in the memory of the 275 fans that attended, with chances few and far between for either side, but will work in favour of both squads in terms of match fitness.

Dale Hilson thought he had opened the scoring for the Loons after twelve minutes as he raced onto a long ball before lifting it over the head of keeper Ryan Scully and into the back of the net but assistant Willie Ferguson flagged for offside.

Two minutes later Ross Meechan’s cross almost found Hilson’s head, however Scully got his hands to the dangerous ball inches before the attacker could.

Marc McCallum was lucky not to concede shortly after when a low effort was fumbled by the goalkeeper but the ball slipped past the post.

Just before the half hour mark recent signing Gary Fraser had a low free kick held by Scully before the final chance of the half fell to John Baird, he met a Bain cross but could only divert it on to the roof of the net.

Morton’s first clear cut chance came two minutes into the second half; Chris Millar firing over from distance.

The flow of the game was disrupted with substitutions being made and water breaks as the next opportunity didn’t appear until the 72nd minute when Scully punched away a Fraser free kick.

Four minutes later Michael Travis had to clear a Michael Tidser cross with Gary Oliver lurking, meanwhile the Loons trialist sent a long range effort wide of the mark.

Forfar had the ball in the net for the second time with seven minutes remaining; sub Dylan Easton’s cross was hooked away by former Forfar trialist Jack Iredale but it cannoned off Jamie Bain and strolled across the line. Unfortunately for Bain, he was adjudged to have been offside.

The result will give Jim Weir and his squad confidence ahead of the final week of pre-season as they face Formartine United and Hearts on Tuesday and Saturday respectively.

Forfar Athletic: McCallum (Muir 46), Meechan, Whyte, Munro (Trialist 46), Travis, Reilly (Malone 65), Mackintosh (Easton 46), Fraser (Allan 85), Hilson, Baird (Starkey 72), Bain

Sub not used: Clark

Greenock Morton: Scully, Kilday, Strapp (Langan 64), Buchanan, Iredale, Telfer (A Trialist 58), Millar (Tidser 58), McAlister, McHugh (B Trialist 58), Oliver, MacLean

Subs not used: Waddell, Armour, Farrell

Interview with Forfar Athletic’s new signing Gary Fraser

Gary Fraser echoed his Forfar Athletic teammate Thomas Reilly’s ambitions this season and believes it’s vital to take a winning mentality into the new season.

The recent signing from Partick Thistle spoke of his delight at joining the Loons, feeling the squad are good enough to at least finish in the top half of League One.

Fraser, 24, spoke highly of his new manager Jim Weir, noting him as the main reason for moving to Station Park.

“I’m definitely delighted to join Forfar, I’ve really enjoyed it so far, it’s been good. I spoke to Jim Weir beforehand and he’s been brilliant, he’s the main reason why I’ve come here.”

Forfar kicked off their pre-season campaign with a 1-0 win at home to Ayr United and Fraser expressed his delight at getting started with a win; hoping they can take a winning mentality into the new season.

“It was a good game to kick off pre-season, it is always good to get off to winning ways in pre-season and get a winning mentality ahead of the competitive season hopefully. I really enjoyed getting started and it’s great to be here.”

The former Hamilton and Bolton midfielder has been impressed with his teammates so far and reckons they are good enough to at least finish in the top half of the league.

“The squad we have just now can 100% improve on last season, maybe one or two signings more but I think the squad we have at the moment can definitely finish in the top half.”

“Obviously we want to aim further than that, my aims are a bit high but I don’t want to give them away, I’ll keep them to myself and hopefully it happens.”

The Loons will face one of Fraser’s former sides Greenock Morton this Saturday and while he is looking forward to playing them, he is keen to focus on the future with Jim Weir’s side.

“I’m looking forward to playing against Morton but I’m just happy to be at Forfar, my main concern is this club and I feel we will do well.”

Interview with Forfar Athletic midfielder Thomas Reilly

Summer signing Thomas Reilly reckons it was a no brainer for him to link up with Jim Weir again at Forfar Athletic.

The former Elgin City midfielder worked with Weir at Borough Briggs and feels the squad Weir has built is impressive.

Reilly, 23, expressed his delight to move to Station Park and hopes they can carry their end of season form into the 2018-2019 season.

“I’m delighted to join the club, last season the club were up and down but finished the season well, so hopefully we can carry that for into the new season. We’ve added some good players like Gary Fraser and John Baird; you just need to say their name and everybody knows them, the fact everybody knows them proves that they’re a decent player and they could definitely play at a better level than League One. We’ve got no excuses to not be competing with every team in the league with the calibre of player we’ve got.”

Ex-St Mirren man Reilly, spent three seasons at Elgin, netting 11 goals in 119 appearances but explained it was an easy decision to ply his trade under Weir once again.

“I spoke to Jim about the possibility of moving to Forfar because he got me enjoying my football again after leaving St Mirren when he took me to Elgin, and with the players he was bringing in, it was an easy decision to make that I wanted to play my football here.”

Forfar opened their pre-season schedule with a 1-0 win over Championship side Ayr United as Jamie Bain’s lob was the difference between the sides and the midfielder praised his teammates’ performance against a tough side.

“It was a tough game, Ayr are a really good side, we knew it was going to be hard, but I thought we played well and grew into the game. The longer the game went on, I thought we looked more comfortable.”

“After the first water break, we got together and John and Barry changed a couple of things which helped improve the performance. Jamie scored a great goal, it was fit to win any game, whether it’s a friendly or not. We want to get that mentality in early doors and the earlier you get that the better.”

Reilly showed that he wants to take a winning mentality into the competitive season and hopes the side can show their potential in the Betfred Cup group fixtures against Falkirk, East Fife, Montrose and St Johnstone.

“The League Cup draw is tough, but we’ve got to go and try to win these games, we know they’re difficult games but Ayr are a tough side and we’ve just beat them, whether it’s a friendly or not.”

“We know they’ll be tough games but we can’t go into they’re just thinking ‘Oh we’ll just work on fitness’, because it’s not about that, myself and the boys in that dressing room want to go and win every game, but if you go into the cup not being bothered about winning the games, you’re going to go into the league the same way. We want to start the league the right way and if we start the cup that way, we’ll hopefully take that into the league.”