Match Report

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Prior to this game Stranraer knew that if results went their day today, promotion cold be secured. Leading marksman Michael Moore was ruled out due to suspension, and flying winger Kevin Finlayson was missing to be at the side of his partner who was about to give birth to their child.

Tam McCallisterThe side that Neil Watt named for this game was bereft of a couple of regulars but gave good opportunities to Tam McAllister in Midfield, and Brian Crawford up front. Crawford had impressed on his previous appearances for the club, having been a scoring substitute on a few occasions, however injuries had restricted Brian’s appearances since his move from Stenhousemuir at the turn of the year.

Referee J.Downie got the match underway, and unlike their usual start where they attack the game from the off, Stranraer actually found themselves on the receiving end of a Cowdenbeath attack. Fraser Wright received the ball but seemed to slice his initial clearance, the ball was taken by a Beath’ player who played the ball into McInally in the box, his shot was saved by McCondachie. It seemed that Stranraer were a little nervous early on.

Play continued and Stranraer got into gear, on 6 minutes Wright again was in the thick of the action when he and Jenkins played some neat passing, to get the ball to Crawford on the corner of the box, he had a clear shot on goal, but keeper Carlin in the Beath’ goal was equal to it.

This first half was proving to be quite a tense affair, Cowdenbeath certainly were not playing like a team content to play out their season, they were at Stair Park to take the points. Swift early on had to clear a McInally header off the line and Dexi Wingate was called upon on more than one occasion to deal with strong Cowdenbeath pressure.

What was probably Stranraer’s best opportunity of the half came on 34 minutes, Dexi Wingate received the ball fully 30 yards out but let rip with a superb shot to Carlin’s right, the keeper had to make a fine save to prevent it going into, and probably trough, the net. From the resulting Lee Sharp corner, the ball found Davey Graham at the back post, he unleashed a crisp effort with the outside of his right foot, which unfortunately fizzed over the bar.

Half time came, with Stranraer level, but by no means assured of three points after a goal-less first half. Further frustration followed for the Stair Park crowd, when the tannoy announcer revealed that promotion rivals Gretna were 0-2 up away at Montrose, the groan was considerable!

The second half kicked off, and both sides created little in the way of chances with both sides cancelling each other out.                         Both sides made substitutions to try and change the style of play.                         Stranraer were pressing that little bit harder, but it was difficult to see where the first goal was going to come from.                         To confound matters, Stevie Aitken who was only just back after a two week injury lay-off got himself booked, which kicks in a one match ban after accumulating disciplinary points.

From then on Stranraer got more into the game, with Davey Graham and Jenkins having half chances. On 81 minutes came the moment that the Stair Park faithful had been waiting for. A Lee Sharp cross found Turnbull in the box, his flick on header found Allan Jenkins whom headed goalward, the ball appeared to be deflected out by a Cowdenbeath player’s hand, however the ball returned to Jenkins to strike the ball into the back of the net to the rapture of the crowd. Jenkins clearly enjoyed his moment, sprinting past the amassed crowd taking hi-fives and enjoying the celebrations. Once the lead was achieved, Stranraer looked steadfast and there was no way they were going to let the lead slip. The crowd were cheering every tackle, and on 90 minutes Davey Graham latched on to a superb through ball, but in his one on one with the keeper struck the ball over. It didn’t matter though, straight after that the referee blew up for full-time and the crowd and the players were all clearly delighted.

Next up for Stranraer on May 1st is arguably The Blues most important game of the season, a home tie against promotion rivals Gretna, in what you could say is a winner takes all game.                         If Stranraer get through the game unbeaten they will be promoted whatever Stirling Albion’s result.                         If Stranraer are beaten then they could still be caught by The Borderers in theory. It’s still all in the melting pot but with the points already on the board you would still have to favour Stranraer to make an immediate return to Division 2 next season.

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