Forfar remain in division two

IT'S ALL OVER: Joy and relief on the faces of the Forfar Athletic players as they succeeded in avoiding the dreaded end-of-season play-offs.'Picture by Chris Coutts, Forfar.
IT'S ALL OVER: Joy and relief on the faces of the Forfar Athletic players as they succeeded in avoiding the dreaded end-of-season play-offs.'Picture by Chris Coutts, Forfar.

FORFAR Athletic ended the season on a high with a second successive victory.

Following hard on the heels of the four-nil demolition job on Albion Rovers, Dick Campbell’s men deservedly picked up three more points in a two-one win at Stenhousemuir on Saturday.

The results mean that the 2011-2012 campaign is over - with no sweat, or the expense, of a play-off situation to face over the coming fortnight.

Indeed, the win over the Warriors, coupled with Brechin City’s four-two reverse at Dumbarton, means that the Loons actually finish the campaign above their near-neighbours, taking seventh spot in the Scottish second division.

And, as things panned out elsewhere, Forfar didn’t really need the points at Ochilveiw, Albion Rovers suffering defeat at home to Stirling Albion, to leave themselves with a nervy end to the campaign in their bid to remain a second division force.

Having crushed the men from Cliftonhill the previous Saturday, it would have been a big disappointment for the Forfar travelling support had they not been able to finish the job off on Saturday.

But they needn’t have worried.

Their heroes took an early lead and battled back to go in front again after the home side levelled.

And, by the end of the ninety minutes they could have won by a more comfortable margin than the end score-line would suggest.

There was no Chris Templeman in the Forfar side, and also missing were the likes of Byers, Bishop and Mowat, along with the suspended Dale Hilson.

But the reshaped side got stuck in from the kick-off and surged into the lead in the fourth minute.

The Stenhousemuir goalkeeper, Brown, could only parry a Bradley Coyne shot and the loose ball was bundled into his own net by the covering defender Ross McMillan.

The Warriors hit back to level in 15 minutes, Grant Anderson latching on to a ball from Eric Paton to slot past Greg Paterson.

But, back came Forfar and, seven minutes later they were back in front, courtesy of a wonderful goal from midfielder Martyn Fotheringham.

Foxy has scored some crackers for the Loons, and this was up there with the best, a super strike from the edge of the box that found the top corner of the net.

Having nosed in front for a second time, the visitors dug in and ground out the result that was to secure their place in the second division for another season.

Anderson missed the chance to bring David Irons’ side back level when he volleyed Stephen Murray’s free-kick over the bar from close range after 70 minutes.

Kenny Deuchar then missed the target with a six-yard header nine minutes from full-time, as the home side’s promotion chances faded.

There was joy, and a sense of relief on the Forfar players’ faces at the end of the game, for a highly competitive second division is where the club wants to be as it looks forward to a new era in its history - playing on an artificial surface in season 2012-2013.

How many of the present squad will still be at Station Park remains to be seen.

The manager will find himself rebuilding almost from scratch again, with the entire first team squad free to decide their own futures on May 20.

Some will stay, others will go - but then it’s a whole new season.

Commenting on the final game of the curretn campaign, Campbell said: “This was a big game for us as we needed to stay in the division, and my team was terrific.

“Stenny are a good side who have been in the top three of the table for most of the season and to come here and win as well as we did is a credit to my players.

“I did not want relegation on my CV, but we have been murdered by injuries all season and I have had a number of young players and loans playing this term.

“If the loan players can go back to their clubs better players then that’s what it’s all about.

“In the meantime they have served us well and - with all respect to Stenhousemuir - we fully deserved Saturday’s victory.

“I wanted to stay in this division because it is going to be exciting next term and the players made sure of that.

“We have players who will be going back to their clubs and we have to build again for next season, a process that has already started.”

Stenhousemuir - Brown, Nicky Devlin, McMillan (Iain Thomsom), Miller (Murray), McKinlay, Paton, Ferguson, Mike Devlin, Grant Anderson, Rodgers (Deuchar) and Kean.

Forfar Athletic - Paterson, McCulloch, Shaughnessy, Bolochoweckyj, Iain Campbell, Fotheringham, Ross, Hegarty (Wilson), Motion (Sellars), Coyne (Gibson) and Low.