Scorers: Forfar Athletic - Hilson (8), Baird (87); Stranraer - Cameron (25)

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VETERAN striker John Baird struck a cruel late blow to deny Stranraer a much-needed point at Station Park. 

The Blues came into the contest looking to bounce back from defeats to Airdrie and Montrose in recent weeks.

Injuries to Grant Anderson and Ian Smith - plus the departures of Ciaran Diver, Max Ashmore, Luke Donnelly and Daniel Higgins - meant Stevie Farrell could only name four substitutes.

The manager was, however, able to call upon attacking duo Conor O'Keefe and Cameron Elliott.

O'Keefe joined from St Mirren earlier in the week and played the full 90 minutes, with Elliott having to settle for a cameo appearance on his return from a loan spell at junior side Kilbirnie Ladeside.

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Farrell spoke ahead of the game about the need keep it tight in the early stages - words which soon turned out to be eerily prophetic.

The first chance of the game fell to Stranraer, as PJ Crossan controlled a cutback from O'Keefe and produced a improvised backheel which was hacked clear.

Forfar striker Dale Hilson, currently in his sixth spell with the League 1 side, made no mistake at the other end.

The former Queen of the South man met Ross Meechan's cross, tapping home from close range to put the hosts into an early lead.

With the manager's pre-match words likely ringing in their ears, Stranraer took the game by the scruff of the neck.

Defender Adam Cummins drove forward and smashed a low shot past the foot of Marc McCallum's post, before Mark Lamont and Kyle Turner also fired wide.

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The momentum would eventually turn into an equaliser for Stranraer.

Lamont sent in a fine low ball for Kilmarnock loanee Innes Cameron to tuck home his fourth goal of the season.

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Hilson had a big chance to double his and Forfar's tally as the hosts moved the ball in a sweeping move from right to left, but fired into the sponsor boards with only Max Currie to beat.

Stranraer could have gone into the interval with a one-goal lead as Cummins rose to meet a fine cross from Mark Lamont, but his powerful header came back off the post.

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With the bulk of possession and the better of the chances, the Blues picked up where they left off in the second half.

Crossan was looking increasingly lively, winning free kicks and troubling the home defence.

The on-loan Celtic striker fired narrowly wide, and was then denied by McCallum after receiving a glorious cross-field pass from Turner.

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At the other end, a number of defensive blocks and fine saves by Max Currie were frustrating the Forfar forwards, as a draw began to look increasingly likely.

But with just three minutes left to play, the home side sealed all three points.

Baird, who doubles as the Loons' assistant manager, swept home into the bottom corner to round off a rotten run of results for the Blues.

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Despite the scoreline, it was a much improved showing from Stevie Farrell's side, who will look to build on this performance in next weekend's Scottish Cup tie against Partick Thistle.

Forfar Athletic: McCallum, Meechan, Whyte, Travis, Eckersley, Easton (Aitken 78), Reilly, Malone (Mackintosh 81), Bain, Hilson (Coupe 85), Baird.
Not used: Kennedy, Munro, Hoban.

Stranraer: Currie, Hamill, Brownlie, Cummins, D Smith, Lamont (Elliott 85), McManus, Turner (McDonald 90+1), Crossan, O'Keefe, Cameron.
Not used: McGowan, Avci.

Photos: Stranraer FC

SPFL 3L1 6474

POS
TEAM PLD
PTS
1 Arbroath 21 52
2 Raith Rovers 21 39
3 East Fife 21 35
4 Forfar Athletic 21 33
5 Airdrieonians 21 30
6 Montrose 21 28
7 Stranraer 20 23
8 Dumbarton 21
19
9 Brechin City 20 19
10 Stenhousemuir 21 16


Fixtures

2018/19 Squad

1 - Max Currie (GK)
2 - Daniel Higgins (DEF)

3 - Chris McGowan (DEF)
4 - Andy McDonald (DEF)
5 - David Brownlie (DEF)
6 - Connor McManus (MID)
7 - Mark Lamont (MID)
8 - Kyle Turner (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)