L21 Forfar W

STEVIE Farrell has urged his team to keep it tight at the back tomorrow (Saturday), particularly in the early stages.

Early goals have been the Blues' Achilles heel as of late, with Airdrie and Montrose finding the net within the opening five minutes.

It has immediately left Stranraer playing catch up in a bid to get something from the game.

Farrell said they had been working in training to try to prevent history from repeating itself when they head to Forfar.

He added: “It is more about drilling it into the players and about being really tight and solid in the early part of the game.

stevie clyde

“It is about not being as expansive as the middle to late part of the game and getting them to understand that the first 15-20 minutes is as important as the last part.

“It is about getting them to understand that and it is all part of the learning curve and process.

“The players are great at this club.

“They take everything you say in and they are like sponges.”

Tomorrow’s visit to Forfar brings a much changed squad from the team that lined up against Montrose last Saturday afternoon.

Conor O’Keefe has joined the club, with PJ Crossan and Innes Cameron extending their loan deals, as well as Cameron Elliot returning from his own loan spell.

He said: “It is good to have Cameron back.

cameron elliott

“The reason we put him out on loan was to get him game time week in week out.

“He enjoyed it, played well and scored a few goals.

“It is good to get him back and he comes back a better player.”

In relation to Crossan and Cameron, the manager was pleased to see both men extend their loan deals and noted Cameron, who scored last time out against Montrose was getting better with each game.

The latest recruit, O’Keefe, joined the club last night (Thursday) after leaving St Mirren.

Farrell said: “I tried to get him in the summer but he got a deal to stay with St Mirren, which he took.

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“Then, we knew he became available and got him in for training.

“He can play wide or in the number 10 role and he is very, very quick.

“He has got the DNA and profile of what we are looking to build at the club.”

Of course, while players have come in, it has also seen Ciaran Diver, Luke Donnelly, Max Ashmore and Daniel Higgins leave.

Diver has returned to Celtic while Higgins has gone back to Kilmarnock, with the Rugby Park side keen to have a look at the midfielder.

A deal could yet see the former Airdrie man return to the club but the manager stressed, for now at least, he was with the Ayrshire side.

Ashmore has joined Stirling Albion, with Farrell wishing the midfielder the best of luck.

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He said: “Max and I have a great relationship.

“That tells you if you treat people as men before footballers and, if you do that, you give them that respect they respect you back.”

Perhaps the most surprising departure was that of Donnelly, who has linked up with Arbroath.

The manager added: “The club did not want to lose him and I did not want to lose him.

“Technically, Luke is as good a player as I have worked with.

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“He has played over 20 games for Stranraer this season and that tells you how important he is but the reality is that he is a hungry individual.

“I would like to think we gave him a chance coming here from Queen’s Park.

“It is a success story for Luke and I wish him all the best.

“He has an opportunity to win a championship and to go and play in the Championship.

“We were sad to see him go.”

Farrell stressed he was not expecting a turnover like this time last season, which saw a number of key players like Cameron Belford, Liam Dick, Steven Bell and Ryan Wallace depart.

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The reshuffling may not be finished yet though, with the manager confirming they were in talks with other players to join the club.

Just a matter of weeks ago, the Blues were being praised for their unbeaten run.

Now, Farrell is determined to ensure the team does not start an unwanted winless streak.

He said: “The unbeaten run is finished with.

“It was good while it lasted but now we have lost two.

“We need to win games to put that right and that is the way football is.

“You cannot rest on your laurels or get too despondent with negatives.

“Tomorrow is a new game, it is a new day, and we approach it as the next game of football, which means it is the most important one.”

Last meeting
Stranraer 2-1 Forfar Athletic
1 December 2018

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GOALS either side of the half time interval gave Stranraer all three points when Forfar made the trip south at the beginning of last month.

Luke Donnelly and Connor McManus were on target for the hosts, with John Baird ensuring a nervous finale after scoring from the penalty spot ten minutes from time.

The opening goal came three minutes before the interval courtesy of Donnelly, who had already clipped the crossbar with a curling effort. The frontman collected a cross, turned and fired across a helpless Marc McCallum to break the deadlock.

The goalscorer turned provider early in the second half when he picked out McManus on the edge of the box and the midfielder coolly slotted home his first for the club.

Still, there would be a few nervous moments after David Brownlie was punished for a spot of wrestling in the box. Experienced striker Baird did the job from 12 yards but Stranraer’s defence held firm.

Stranraer: Currie, McDonald, Brownlie, Hamill, Cummins, McManus, Turner, Donnelly (Higgins 89), Lamont (D Smith 67), I Smith (Anderson 81), Crossan.
Not used: McGowan, Cameron, Diver and Avci.

Forfar Athletic: McCallum, Bain, Meechan, Whyte, Travis, Reilly, Hill, Hilson (MacKintosh 74), Baird, Easton (Coupe 58), Moore (Cunningham 85).
Not used: Munro, Malone, Kennedy and Young.
 
Last five meetings

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Stranraer 2 Forfar Athletic 1 (Donnelly and McManus; Baird (P)) at Stair Park on December 1, 2018
Forfar Athletic 0 Stranraer 0 at Station Park on August 18, 2018
Stranraer 2 Forfar Athletic 0 (Agnew and Lyon) at Stair Park on March 31, 2018
Forfar Athletic 5 Stranraer 1 (Aitken x2, Dingwall, Hurst and Easton; Woods) at Station Park on February 17, 2018
Stranraer 3 Forfar Athletic 0 (Wallace (P) and Beith x2) at Stair Park on December 16, 2017

Last five games

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Stranraer

LOSS v Montrose (H): 1-2 (Cameron)
LOSS v Airdrie (A): 3-0
WIN v Dumbarton (A): 0-1 (Turner)
DRAW v East Fife (A): 3-3 (Cummins pen, Cameron and McGowan)
WIN v Forfar Athletic (H): 2-1 (Donnelly and McManus)

Forfar Athletic

WIN v Dumbarton (A): 2-3 (Hilson, Baird and Easton)
WIN v Brechin City (H): 2-0 (Baird and Hilson (P))
LOSS v East Fife (A): 1-0
WIN v Montrose (H): 2-1 (Hilson x2)
LOSS v Arbroath (H): 2-3 (Moore and Baird)

Last time out

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Stranraer lineup v Montrose: Currie, Brownlie, Smith, Hamill, Cummins, Higgins (Anderson 40), McManus, Lamont (Diver 86), Turner, Donnelly (Crossan 40), Cameron.
Not used: McGowan, McDonald and Avci.

Forfar Athletic lineup v Dumbarton: McCallum, Bain, Meechan, Whyte, Travis, Malone, Reilly, Hill, Hilson, Baird (MacKintosh 85), Easton (Coupe 85).
Not used: Munro, Kennedy, Cunningham, Aitken and Young.

Referee

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STRANRAER travelled to Stark’s Park on 20 October for a match with Raith Rovers.

Steven Kirkland was referee that day, with Luke Donnelly cancelling out Kevin Nisbet’s early opener. Nisbet scored again before Euan Murray was sent off before the break but Stranraer could not find a leveller.

Mr Kirkland also took charge of Falkirk v Forfar in July, with the Bairns winning 2-0 thanks to goals from Dennon Lewis and Deimantas Petravicius.

You need to go back to October 2017 for Mr Kirkland’s last visit to Station Park. That saw Ayr United win 5-0, with a Michael Moffat hat-trick added to by Lawrence Shankland and Craig Moore.
 
Photos: Stranraer FC, Bill McCandlish

We're back at Stair Park again on 26 January to face East Fife.

Normal league entry prices apply.

L22 East Fife W

SPFL 3L1 6474

POS
TEAM PLD
PTS
1 Arbroath 29 63
2 Forfar Athletic 29 50
3 Raith Rovers 29 48
4 East Fife 29 44
5 Montrose 28 35
6 Dumbarton 28 34
7 Airdrieonians 28 34
8 Stranraer 28 32
9 Brechin City 27 28
10 Stenhousemuir 29 28


Fixtures

2018/19 Squad

1 - Max Currie (GK)
3 - Chris McGowan (DEF)
4 - Andy McDonald (DEF)
5 - David Brownlie (DEF)
6 - Connor McManus (MID)
7 - Mark Lamont (MID)
8 - Kyle Turner (MID)
9 - Joao Victoria (STR)
10 - Ali McCann (MID)

11 - Grant Anderson (M/S)
12 - Ian Smith (MID)

13 - Lyle Avci (GK)
14 - Cameron Elliott (MID)
17 - David Smith (D/M)
18 - Innes Cameron (STR)
20 - PJ Crossan (STR)

22 - Jamie Hamill (DEF)
23 - Adam Cummins (DEF)
24 - Conor O'Keefe (MID)