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

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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.”

Forfar Athletic 1 Ayr United 0 (Pre-Season Friendly) 30th June 2018

Forfar Athletic got their pre-season schedule off to the perfect start with a 1-0 win at home to last season’s League One winners Ayr United.

Jamie Bain’s smart lob midway through the second half was the difference between the sides in the opening fixture of their respective pre-season schedules.

Summer signings Gary Fraser, Thomas Reilly, Darren Whyte, John Baird and Ross Meechan all started, with Willie Muir making an appearance from the bench along with a trialist.

The first half saw both sides struggle to get into a rhythm and very little chances were carved out on a hot afternoon at Station Park.

The Honest Men had the first opportunities early on with Alan Forrest firing over from the edge of the box before Daniel Harvie struck low at Marc McCallum from the same distance.

Harvie forced another save from McCallum in the 20th minute as he connected with a Declan McDaid corner.

The game started to come to life in the last five minutes of the first half with Craig Moore striking an effort at McCallum, while at the other end Gary Fraser and John Baird combined for Darren Whyte to test Ellis Hare-Reid from 20 yards.

Baird saw a shot of his own blocked by a defender after Dylan Easton found the player/assistant manager with a low cross on the stroke of half time.

Ayr made four changes at half time as the Loons stuck with the same XI and it almost paid off shortly after the restart when Easton struck a long distance effort over the bar.

Last season’s League One Player of the Year Lawrence Shankland fired past the post in the 48th minute after coming on as a half time sub for the Honest Men.

Eight minutes later Easton couldn’t beat the wall with a 25 yard free kick and the follow up was sent low and just wide by Eddie Malone.

The deadlock was broken in the 64th minute with a long ball forward; Jamie Bain found himself racing clear and took the ball down with a deft touch before delicately lifting it over the advancing Hare-Reid and into the back of the net.

Baird came close with two efforts in quick succession following this as Forfar looked for a quick second.

Willie Muir was called into action for the first time in the 73rd minute when Shankland burst through the defence but the summer signing did well to turn his shot round the post.

Neither side really troubled the opposition keepers following this with Bain and Ayr’s James Hilton failing to find the target in the closing stages.

The result will give the Loons a boost ahead of their second pre-season fixture next Saturday when they host another Championship side in Greenock Morton.

Forfar Athletic: Marc McCallum (Willie Muir 58), Ross Meechan, Eddie Malone (Trialist 58), Andy Munro, Michael Travis (Sam Clark 80), Darren Whyte (Murray Mackintosh 58), Jamie Bain, Thomas Reilly, John Baird, Gary Fraser (Ben Starkey 85), Dylan Easton (Jack Allan 85)

Ayr United: Ellis Hare-Reid, Daniel Harvie, Michael Rose, Andy Geggan (Stuart Faulds 46), Michael Moffat (Lawrence Shankland 46), Robbie Crawford (Craig McGuffie 46), Craig Moore (Luke McCowan 46), Alan Forrest (James Hilton 70), Declan McDaid (Finn Ecrepont 70), A. Trialist, B. Trialist (Leon Murphy 70)

Interview with Forfar Athletic’s Russell Dingwall

Russell Dingwall was delighted to end his loan spell at Forfar Athletic with a win after Saturday’s 2-1 win at Airdrieonians.

The 20 year midfielder from Ross County played in all fourteen games after joining the Loons on deadline day in January and scored once in a 5-1 win over Stranraer.

Dingwall believes it was good to finish the season off with a win after a difficult season for everyone involved with the club.

“It’s good to get the win, it’s been a hard season for all of us but to finish off with a win is good, the boys deserved it after all the effort they put in.”

Despite the Loons having nothing to play for, Dingwall felt the game still meant a lot to the players but not as much as it would had if they were still involved in the relegation battle.

“We wanted to win today, it meant a lot to us but not as much as it would have if we were still in a scrap but I’m happy with how I played overall.”

Dingwall is out of contract with his parent club in the summer but hopes he has done enough to earn himself a new deal at Victoria Park under Stuart Kettlewell and Steven Ferguson.

“I’ve not heard anything from Ross County for next season yet so I just hope the gaffer will want to offer me a contract for next year.”

The midfielder admits he would be keen for a longer stay at the Loons if he was given the chance to do so.

“If I was to go part time I’d be happy to come back to Forfar, it’s a great club and they’ve been very good to me since I arrived so I would like to come back.”

During his time at the club, Dingwall played alongside experienced midfielder Mark Millar and the youngster has loved learning from the former Falkirk man.

“It’s been good playing alongside Mark, he’s obviously played at a higher level for a long time so he’s coached me through a few games and I’ve enjoyed playing alongside him.”

Interview with Forfar Athletic’s Marc McCallum

Marc McCallum was elated to pick up three awards in the Forfar Athletic end of season presentation on Saturday and admits it’s the first time he’s won anything.

The 25 year old goalkeeper was named the Supporters’ Player of the Year, Away Supporters’ Player of the Year as well as the Players’ Player of the Year following Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Queen’s Park.

McCallum couldn’t hide his delight after winning the awards and praised the side’s change in fortunes after the appointment of Jim Weir in October.

“I’m happy to pick up the awards, it was funny I was laughing with the boys at each of the awards, it’s been a change of fortunes since the new manager came in. Obviously we’ve picked up a few points and I’ve helped out where I can trying to keep the ball out of the net.”

“On a personal level it’s been a good season so it’s nice to win the awards, I’ve never won anything before and they’ve all come at once so I’m pretty chuffed to be fair.”

Forfar have gained just three points this season against Queen’s Park with three draws and a defeat and the keeper feels the side tired easily on Saturday, adding it’s been a regular occurrence against the Spiders this season.

“When we go 1-0 up, we look good, we played some good stuff and looked like we had no pressure on us because there is none. I think we tired really quickly, it’s been a thing against Queen’s Park this season, we’ve just not played that well against them at times.”

The season will end this Saturday with a trip to Airdrieonians; the Loons are currently on 35 points with manager Jim Weir setting a target of 37 previously. McCallum hopes they can end the season on a high for themselves and the supporters that will travel down to New Broomfield.

“The gaffer’s wanting 37 points, so a win to end the season would be great considering the position we were in and a win would give us a bit of momentum going into next season as well. It’s tough because there is nothing to play for but we will treat it like every other game and hope to end the season on a high.”

With League One potentially being an all part time league including all four Angus clubs, McCallum is eager to help the Loons get into the top half of the league.

“It’s going to be a very interesting league next year, you could potentially have twelve derbies so it will be so competitive next season and it will be good for the supporters. Obviously four teams in the one league hasn’t happened for years so it will be interesting.”

“It might be an all part time league so the opportunity is there to maybe win the league but we want to get ourselves up in the top half and enjoy the derbies and occasions.”

McCallum signed a deal until 2020 in October last year and he reckons it was a no brainer to extend his stay at his hometown club where he admits he is enjoying his football for the first time in a few years.

“When the gaffer asked the question, I spoke to my family and that, it’s the first time I’ve actually enjoyed my football for years. I thought why do a lot of players move and bounce around clubs and I don’t want to be like that just now.”

“They offered me a long term deal back in October and that doesn’t happen very often at part time level. When you know a club and a manager want you, you take it with both hands and it’s made me settle down, enjoy my football and concentrate on my job.”

Albion Rovers 0 Forfar Athletic 1 (League One) 7th April 2018

On a wet and dull afternoon in Coatbridge, Forfar Athletic gave themselves a great chance of survival in League One as a late winner gave them all three points against Albion Rovers.

The game was lacking a cutting edge until the 91st minute when sub Josh Peters netted from 15 yards out.

Jim Weir made just one change from the defeat to Stranraer seven days prior, Mark Millar returning to replace Kevin McNaughton.

Murray Mackintosh almost put the Loons ahead just 27 seconds in as he chased down an attempted clearance; he cut inside before curling the effort into the arms of Daniel Potts.

In the sixth minute Forfar came close again as Dylan Easton’s corner found the head of Eddie Malone but Matthew Aitken couldn’t fire the loose ball through the sea of yellow shirts.

Three minutes later Mackintosh cleared a Conor Scullion header off the line from a Scott McLean corner.

Mark Millar fires over from the edge of the box for Forfar before Michael Travis nodded high above the bar in the 13th minute.

Jim Weir was forced into an early sub as Malone limped off to be replaced by Andrew Munro.

Rovers’ Scott McLaughlin saw his weak free kick easily smothered by Marc McCallum while at the other end Easton and Dale Hilson both wasted good opportunities as they failed to find the target.

The Loons could have been ahead four minutes after the break when a low cross found Aitken but he sliced his effort before Mackintosh’s shot was held by Potts.

Shortly after the hour mark Easton tried to break the deadlock from 35 yards, sending his free kick agonisingly over the bar.

Easton had another chance in the 69th minute as the weather worsened, cutting inside from the left wing but he couldn’t beat the first man with his effort and the loose ball was eventually cleared.

With less than fifteen minutes remaining Jamie Bain sent a cross into the box and sub Greg Hurst connected with it only to see his shot blocked.

Hurst was denied again by Potts with a weak low effort as the game edged closed to the end.

With it looking like it would end goalless, Josh Peters popped up with another late winner after netting the fourth in a seven goal thriller at Cliftonhill in November.

A counter attack in the first minute of injury time saw Dale Hilson break with the ball; he played Peters in and after getting it under control he stroked the ball past Potts to the delight of the squad, board and travelling supporters.

The result pushes the Loons seven points clear of both Rovers and Queen’s Park with three games remaining and survival is definitely in their own hands.

Albion Rovers: Daniel Potts, Alan Reid, Scott McLaughlin, Jason Marr, Ross Perry, Graeme Holmes, Scott McLean, Craig McLeish (Michael McMullin 82), Sean Higgins (Ryan Watters 50), Conor Scullion (Mikey Hopkins 55), Joao Victoria

Subs not used: Daniel Baur, John Guthrie, Lloyd Fallon, Jamie Gallagher

Forfar Athletic: Marc McCallum, Jamie Bain, Darren Whyte, Eddie Malone (Andrew Munro 20), Michael Travis, Mark Millar, Murray Mackintosh, Russell Dingwall, Dale Hilson, Dylan Easton (Josh Peters 83), Matthew Aitken (Greg Hurst 65)

Subs not used: Ross MacIver, Kevin McNaughton, Dean Brotherston, Grant Adam