curtain raiser 2017

EAST Fife will be making the trip from Methil to Stranraer this weekend as the Scottish League One season gets under way.

Fans from both teams will be optimistic going into the new campaign and hoping for another memorable season.

To mark Saturday's curtain raiser, we're taking a look back at how the Blues have kicked things off over the last five years, and the contrasting fortunes of our opponents.

It would be fair to say the opening game has tended to be a rocky affair for Stranraer, with just one first day win in five.

Livingston 5-1 Stranraer (2016/17)

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HOPES were high - and hopes were promptly dashed - this time 12 months ago.

The Blues had defeated Livingston in the playoff semi finals just a few weeks beforehand - a result which saw Livi relegated to League One.

Only a penalty shoot-out stopped Stranraer from going to the Championship, and it was hoped that momentum would see them launch a solid effort for promotion.

Unfortunately, the home side had rather different ideas.

The Blues' squad was stretched going into the tie and then-manager Brian Reid only named a squad of 15.

Scott Pittman opened the scoring after just five minutes with an unstoppable effort from outside the box, before Danny Mullen blasted home another great strike.

Craig Malcolm pulled one back, and Liam Kelly denied Kyle Turner an equaliser.

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But any chance of a comeback was extinguished when Liam Buchanan fired home from the penalty spot, and he grabbed another with four minutes left. The icing on the cake for the hosts came when Pittman also notched up his second after Liam Watt had struck the crossbar.

Whilst Stranraer struggled for the remainder of the season, Livi would romp to the title.

The West Lothian outfit look like dark horses for the Championship promotion playoffs this year.

Buchanan will have another crack at League 1 silverware with newly-relegated Raith Rovers, who will be the Blues' opponents at Stark's Park on the second weekend of the season.

Stranraer: Belford, Robertson, Dick, McKeown, Bell, Agnew, Turner, Malcolm, McGuigan, Kemp (McCloskey 50), Nadé (Morena 74).
Not used: Barbour and Currie

Cowdenbeath 1-2 Stranraer (2015/16)

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IT WAS the dawn of a new era, with Reid taking over following the departure of Stevie Aitken.

The ex-Ayr United manager had inherited Aitken's squad, with the additions of Mark McGuigan and Ryan Thomson. The new manager then brought in Conor Brennan and Dale Keenan, with fellow new signing Paul Cairney on the bench alongside player/assistant manager Lee Mair.

Things got off to the perfect start when Ryan Thomson netted after just four minutes.

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However, Colin Nish's men would level in the second half through Dean Brett.

That looked like how things would finish until stoppage time when Chris Kane handled in the penalty box. Up stepped Craig Malcolm, who fired past Michael Andrews to seal the win.

Things quickly got worse for Cowdenbeath though, as Declan Hughes was shown a red card in the 94th minute.

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Having narrowly escaped relegation from the league structure altogether with a penalty shootout win over East Kilbride back in May, Cowden will once again contest League 2 this season.

Stranraer: Brennan, Robertson, Pettigrew, Rumsby, Keenan, Bell, A Stirling (McCloskey 74), Thomson, Malcolm, Longworth (Cairney 69), McGuigan.
Not used: Mair, Aitken, Trialist and Currie.

Stranraer 1-1 Forfar (2014/15)

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JAMIE Longworth would prove a fans' favourite during his time at Stranraer, and he got the first league goal of Stranraer's season in 2014.

The Blues were well on top in the first half and it was the former Queen's Park man who opened the scoring just after the quarter hour mark. A mistake from Michael Dunlop - not the former Stranraer defender - saw the ball come to the Stranraer frontman and he curled the ball round experienced keeper Rab Douglas.

Stephen Stirling almost added a second but Forfar were an improved outfit after the break.

Stuart Malcolm equalised with a diving header past David Mitchell, and Dale Hilson should have ensured the points went back to Forfar but could not direct his effort on goal.

In the end, it was a point apiece.

Forfar will be returning as one of Stranraer's rivals in League 1 this season, having won promotion at the first attempt with a playoff victory over Peterhead in May.

Stranraer: Mitchell, Rumsby, Longridge, Pettigrew, McKeown, Robertson, S Stirling (Marenghi 68), Gallagher, Winter (Aitken 75), Malcolm, Longworth (Forde 85).
Not used: Russell, McCloskey and Fahey.

Stenhousemuir 1-0 Stranraer (2013/14)

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THE Blues had narrowly avoided relegation at the end of the 2012/13 campaign at Ochilview.

It was a season which saw Stevie Aitken replace Keith Knox, and the 2013/14 kickoff at the same venue gave Stranraer fans the chance to see what Aitken's new squad would look like.

Martin Grehan had returned to the club while Scott Robertson, Mark Docherty, David McKenna, Marc Corcoran and Jamie Longworth had put pen to paper at Stair Park. However, it would be the Warriors who clinched the opening day win.

John "The Beast" Gemmell's goal just after the half hour mark was enough to see the Ochilview side get off to the perfect start.

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In fact, the Blues did not savour that winning feeling in the league until the sixth round of fixtures, when Grehan and Longworth scored in a 2-0 win over this weekend's oppponents East Fife.

Stenny - with former Blues players Longworth, McGuigan and Dunlop - will be gunning for League 2 glory this term, having suffered automatic relegation. Stranraer: Mitchell, Kinnaird, Docherty, Robertson, McKeown, Aitken, Winter (A Stirling 64), Gallagher (Corcoran 84), Borris (Longworth 69), Grehan, McKenna.
Not used: Wood, Rafferty, Forde and Fahey.

Stranraer 1-1 Arbroath (2012/13)

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CUP competitions have not always been kind to Stranraer.

The Blues welcomed Arbroath, having been hammered 8-0 at home to Livingston in the League Cup just one week beforehand.

Thankfully, there would be no repeat of that scoreline as Michael Moore came in for Lloyd Kinnaird.

The striker would be the man who found the net for the Blues in the first half. Chris Aitken's corner was perfect for Moore and he bulleted a header beyond Darren Hill.

Still, Stranraer could not find that vital second goal, and they were made to pay just after the restart.

Ex - and future - Stranraer forward Darren Gribben capitalised on Michael Dunlop's slack defensive header and he thumped the ball beyond a helpless David Mitchell.

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Both teams had chances to win it but Craig Malcolm could not find not a way beyond Hill in the visitors' goal.

Back to the present day, and Malky will line up with Alloa, having joined the Clackmannanshire side over the summer.

Arbroath can add Stair Park to their diary once again, having won automatic promotion from League 2. Stranraer: Mitchell, Staunton, Dunlop (Kinnaird 54), McKeown, Aitken, Winter, Gallagher, Borris (Agnew 77), Love, Moore (Forde 84), Malcolm.
Not used: Dougan and Cadwell.
Despite a record of shaky starts, last weekend's performance against Premiership side Partick Thistle showed plenty of positives.

Stevie Farrell will be hoping for more of the same when the league kicks off on Saturday at Stair Park.

05 East Fife W

View full fixtures

SPFL 3L1 6474

1 Arbroath 16 42
2 Raith Rovers 16 29
3 East Fife 16 23
4 Montrose 16 21
5 Forfar Athletic 16 21
6 Airdrieonians 16 20
7 Stranraer 16 20
8 Dumbarton 16
9 Brechin City 16 16
10 Stenhousemuir 16 15


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)
10 - Luke Donnelly (STR)
11 - Grant Anderson (M/S)
12 - Ian Smith (MID)

13 - Lyle Avci (GK)
14 - Cameron Elliott (MID)
16 - Max Ashmore (MID)
17 - David Smith (D/M)
18 - Innes Cameron (STR)
19 - Ciaran Diver (STR)
20 - PJ Crossan (STR)

22 - Jamie Hamill (DEF)
23 - Adam Cummins (DEF)