SPFL League One: STRANRAER 1 DUNFERMLINE 2: Date 26/10/13
Dunfermline took the trip down the A77 to Stranraer for the first time since 1996. Signs of the approach to this outpost of Scottish football include the car radio choosing to switch to BBC Radio Ulster and two ferry terminals. Stair Park looked in good condition and the stadium music included a measure of Big Country to welcome the Fifers.
Jim Jefferies was forced to makle one change, Ryan Thomson coming in for Jordan Moore who has a slight hamstring problem, Craig Dargo came in to complete the visitors' bench.
Stranraer fielded the same eleven that faced Stenhousemuir meaning former Pars player Steven Bell in their starting eleven. He was trying to make a comeback following his career threatening injuries that led to him being released from the Fife club.
Rain started during the warm up and it got heavier by kick off obscuring the view of Loch Ryan that had been visible earlier from the main stand. The wind also intensified as Stranraer kicked off attacking the goal at the north end. Ryan Wallace was sharp into intercepting from the kick off and it was he who got in the first shot after just 28 seconds. Alex Whittle had travelled deep down the left and his cross was hit on target by the striker but blocked by a defender.
Stranraer were kept well out of things in the opening minutes and Thomson was unlucky not to do better when Ross Millen swung over a dangerous ball from the right. Millen had another cross soon after that keeper David Mitchell held before a Josh Falkingham cross was deflected behind.
It had been all Dunfermline but Stranraer took their first good chance in 12 minutes. Jamie LONGWORTH ran on to the ball on the left side of the Pars box and on the angle tucked his sixth of the season past Ryan Scully, the ball entering just inside the far post. 1-0
Dunfermline pushed up to try and retrieve the disasppointment of going behind but were faced by eleven men up. The two Ryans upfront were getting service but struggled to get shots away and it was Falkingham again who had an attempt on 20 minutes but wide left.
Two minutes later the Pars denied shots from Longworth and Stirling but when Chris Aitken thrashed the ball against the advertising boards many in the main stand thought it was the home side's second. Stranraer came much more into the match as the half hour approached but the Pars defence handled their efforts well.
Andy Geggan launched a shot from distance after Whittle had made ground down the left again but the defence blocked. On 39 minutes Stephen Husband drove forward and given the opportunity popped a shot from distance towards the left side of the goal but Mitchell parried that away. Then Shaun Byrne had an attempt on target but not good enough to beat Mitchell.
Another half where Dunfermline played well but went in a goal down simply because their opponents took their chance.
Half Time: Stranraer 1 Dunfermline 0
The second half was in its fourth minute when Stephen HUSBAND drilled past Mitchell from a 30 yard free kick. Bell was yellow carded for bringing down Wallace and the Pars equalised from the setpiece. 1-1
David McKenna replaced Jamie Longworth and it was sub who injected energy into the home team. He raced down the left twice before Bell got a chance from the second and Morris deflected the powerful effort away.
On the hour Falkingham's challenge on Bell cut him to the ground and the former Pars player required treatment from the physio. Three minutes later Byrne picked out Wallace as he moved into the Stranraer box but the striker just couldn't get the shot away. Whittle then pumped a ball in that Mitchell held and Wallace broke in again only for McGregor to sweep in to concede a corner.
When the corner came over from the right Morris went up for the ball and the loose ball was eventually cleared. Thomson was unlucky in front of goal when Mitchell punched the ball off his head and Byrne could not get enough on a shot when through in the box. The Fifers then got the goal they deserved. Wallace worked hard on the right to get the cross in and FALKINGHAM at the near post diverted the ball past Mitchell, 2-1.
Falkingham was really well blocked out by the keeper on the other post just four minutes later and the keeper then stopped a long range attempt from Husband in 77 minutes when the heavy rain made it really hard to save.
McKenna tried a speculative lob on 80 minutes that kept Scully involved but it was one way by now and the Pars should really have made the margin greater. Thomson laid the ball off for Falkingham but he skied the shot over the bar.
Stranraer mounted a late rally but Morris held the defence strong. Young conceded an 87th minute free kick taking down McKenna 25 yards out and Corcoran took responsibility for the setpiece but sent that over the crossbar. The Galloway team piled forward but sub Robert Thomson was able to break on the counter only to have that stopped on the edge of the box.
Ryan Ferguson replaced Ryan Thomson in 94th minute but that only delayed the final whistle by a few seconds. So the Pars journeyed back with the three points and can take confidence into the even longer trip next week on cup duty to Elgin.
STRANRAER: David Mitchell; Frank McKeown, David McGregor, Scott Robertson, Mark Docherty; Steven Bell (Ryan Borris 93), Chris Aitken (Mark Corcoran 73), Andrew Stirling, Grant Gallagher, Martin Grehan, Jamie Longworth (David McKenna 51).
SUBS NOT USED: Chris Fahey, Lloyd Kinnaird.
SCORER: Longworth (12)
YELLOW CARD: Bell (48), Robertson (88)
DUNFERMLINE: Ryan Scully, Ross Millen, Alex Whittle, Kerr Young, Callum Morris, Andy Geggan, Shaun Byrne (Robert Thomson 83), Stephen Husband, Ryan Wallace (Allan Smith 76), Josh Falkingham, Ryan Thomson (Ryan Ferguson 94).
SUBS NOT USED: Lewis Martin, Craig Dargo, Fayssal El Bakhtaoui, Ryan Goodfellow
SCORERS: Husband (49), Falkingham (69)
YELLOW CARD: Morris (54)
REFEREE: Euan Anderson
WEATHER: 13C Overcast wet windy
NEXT MATCH: (away) Scottish Cup v Elgin City
Saturday 2nd November 2013, Kick Off 3.00pm
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