Warriors just didn't show up, says Swift

Stenhousemuir agonisingly missed out on a final-day showdown for a promotion play-off spot in League 2 after they lost 3-1 to Stranraer.

That result at Ochilview Park on Saturday leaves the Warriors four points behind fourth-placed Edinburgh City with just one match to go, sealing Stephen Swift’s side’s place in the fourth tier for another season at least.

Speaking to the Herald afterwards, he admitted his players just didn’t show up.

“It was a disappointing weekend,” Swift said. “Edinburgh’s win on Friday night gave us it all to do, and going into the game, we knew we would have to win. That pressure can be a good or a bad thing, and it cost us.

Stenhousemuir players applaud the Ochiview support after the 3-1 defeat to Stranraer (Pictures: Dave Johnston)

“The boys just didn’t turn up and they know that. They’ve had plenty of praise this year due to how well they have done, but they need to take it on the chin because they just didn’t play.”

A second-half strike from Adam Brown was only a consolation as goals from Craig Ross, Ayrton Sonkur and James Hilton secured a win for Stranraer against a ten-man Warriors side.

Goalkeeper Peter Urminsky was sent off late on, leaving midfielder Ross Forbes to go in net for the final few moments.

Swift said: “Stranraer really have been our bogey side this season. Three out of the four games we’ve played, they have battered us, and I don’t want to say that, but I am just being honest.

Adam Brown celebrates after scoring in the second half

“They deserved to win, and we didn’t do much right on the day. Having Peter sent off just added to a bad day at the office, and next weekend we will be without a few players due to injury now.”

He does think, however, that the club are much better prepared to push for promotion next season, having built a stable squad over the year.

“I’d say we’re about 80% of the way there,” he explained. “Signing-wise, I think we are looking at about three to four good players and we would be in a very strong position.

“That is a good place to be in at this point of the campaign already and we will have a nucleus of key players who have now been with each other for a full season.

“The recruitment wasn’t right before I came into the club, and basically every player who I would have kept wanted to leave, so it was big job to create a squad from scratch.”

Looking back on his first full season at the club, the ex-Broomhill boss said although their goal wasn’t reached, the progress made pleased him.

He said: “Looking at this stage of the season, you always try to reflect on how it has gone overall, and we started so far behind the other sides in terms of our preparation that it was always going to be hard, but we fought our way into it, and the players we have brought into the club have bought into how we play and have shown quality in matches. The core of the team is strong and committed.

Stenny go to Forfar Athletic on Saturday to finish their campaign, and Swift says it will be a chance for others to impress due to injuries.

“Due to injuries, players who haven’t played as much will get a chance,” he said.

“Adam Corbett was struggling with an injury and Nat Wedderburn was pulling up too. Euan O’Reilly was also not 100% either after the match. With Peter out too, it will open up an opportunity for some of them.”