Annan Athletic 0 Stenhousemuir 3: Warriors move up League Two table
Stenhousemuir slipped into eighth position in the League Two table, leap-frogging Albion Rovers after a superb afternoon in Annan.
Neither side went into the game in any sort of positive form, with Stenhousemuir on 11 defeats in 15 games and Annan having shipped 15 goals and scored just two over the five weeks prior.
But this was a stunning return to form for the Warriors who were without the suspended Andy Munro who was serving the first of a two match ban. Indeed the ascent up the table at the expense of the Coatbridge Rovers even outdid their own achievements in pegging back league leaders Cove Rangers with two late goals for a 2-2 draw at Cliftonhill.
And while it was better news for the relegation challenged sides, it wasn’t for tenth placed Brechin who lost two goals to lose after leading at home to Elgin City.
But there was no late drama at Galabank as The Warriors put the game to bed early when they romped to three goal lead.
There was little between the teams in terms of possession early on but in terms of finishing Stenhousemuir proved to be the team with the cutting edge. They scored two goals through brilliant strikes and although Annan partially contributed towards the Warriors second goal it was very much a half that the visitors could be pleased about.
The opening 25 minutes were evenly contested until Ryan Blair collected a pass from Callum Moore and finished with a stunning low strike from 20 yards which ripped into the bottom right hand corner of the net past the helpless Annan keeper Lyle Avci.
Five minutes later the visitors doubled their lead and it was a simple ball played over the top of the Annan defence which caught Annan out with Swinglehurst and Avci caught in two minds with the ball breaking wide to the right to Hopkirk who’s cross found Botti Biabi one on one with the Annan keeper and the Warriors’ striker finished clinically to give the vistors a two goal cushion.
Annan’s first half misery was then concluded in the 42nd minute when Callum Moore collected a cross pass from David Hopkirk finishing with a stunning 25 yard shot into the corner of the net to give Avci no chance.
The second half was evenly contested with little between the teams in terms of possession but Annan could not penetrate the well organized Stenhousmuir defence who curtailed Annan to only one strike on target from their trialist five minutes from time. Wilkie managed to get the ball in the net from a Nade back header but the goal was correctly called offside.
The Warriors’ first half had done enough and the move up the table is an important one, from a points and psychological persepctive for the Ochilview side.
The league is starting to hot up, victories for Queens Park, Elgin City and Stirling Albion resulted in all three teams leapfrogging Annan. Ray McKinnon’s Queen’s Park defeated Cowdenbeath at Hampden with the winning goal being scored in the ninth minute. Brechin City looked to picking up a precious victory until two late goals in the 83rd and 86th minutes secured the points for Elgin City who are now back in the play off position leaving Brechin firmly rooted to the bottom of the league.
Stirling Albion secured a great result defeating Edinburgh City 1-0 to move the Binos into a promising position and denting City’s title hopes, only softened by the Wee Rovers’ comeback draw against Cove.