Livingston Colts A Forfar Athletic A (Irn Bru Cup First Round) 14th August 2018

The Irn Bru Cup got off to a fantastic start for Forfar Athletic this year with their first round tie at Livingston Colts being abandoned.

With Livingston leading 1-0 through Adam Watson, referee David Dickinson abandoned the game after 71 minutes after a power cut at the Tony Macaroni Arena prior to kick off meant visibility was very low in the second half.

Jim Weir made five changes for the tie as Gary Fraser, Andy Munro, Dylan Easton, John Kelly and Willie Muir came in, the suspended Marc McCallum and injured Dale Hilson among the absentees.

The game was very slow to get going and there was little to write about it the first half hour.

After quarter of an hour Forfar felt they had a penalty shout; Thomas Reilly’s cross finding Murray Mackintosh and as he headed over he looked to have been taken out by Livingston keeper Jordan Pettigrew but the referee awarded a goal kick.

The hosts’ Matthew Knox curled wide from the edge of the box in the 26th minute but three minutes later the Colts were ahead.

Winger Adam Watson ran at the Forfar defence before sending a low effort past Willie Muir from just outside the box to give Livingston the lead.

This seemed to waken the Loons up and they created chances of their own in the lead up to half time.

Dylan Easton and John Baird played a neat one two with each other and the former could only watch as his effort was tipped round the post by Pettigrew six minutes before the break.

Baird was next to have a go with a 25 hard effort creeping agonisingly over the bar while Gary Fraser blasted over from long range.

The players, staff, fans and almost everyone else inside the ground were astounded when the second half began; the light now fading fast inside the ground and it was beginning to get hard to tell who was who on the pitch from the stands.

Baird forced a save from Pettigrew in the 54th minute as the keeper pushed his strike onto the bar before Knox failed to find the target at the other end.

The hour mark came and Pettigrew denied Forfar again with a fingertip save from Easton.

Five minutes later Baird hit the sidenetting with players and the number on their shirts now unrecognisable from the stands, the striker standing out due to his bright boots.

The game still carried on with Baird firing over the bar before Connor Coupe replaced Thomas Reilly.

Just three minutes after Coupe came on and was looking to make an impact, the sensible decision to abandon the match was taken by David Dickinson after 71 minutes.

The game will be replayed from the start next Tuesday at the Tony Macaroni Arena with admission free of charge for the second attempt to conclude the game.

Jim Weir’s side will hope to improve ahead of the tie after a poor first half showing in which the Colts deservedly took the lead.

Livingston Colts: Pettigrew, Pignatiello, Clark, McMillan, Thomson, Jacobs, Blues, Rintoul, Hamilton, Knox, Watson

Subs not used: Kinvig, Forrest, Henderson, Vezza, Hay

Forfar Athletic: Muir, Meechan, Kelly, Munro, Travis, Reilly (Coupe 68), Bain, Mackintosh, Fraser, Baird, Easton

Subs not used: Whyte, Malone, Kennedy, Allan, Starkey

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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.”

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.”