Loons lose to League One Leaders

Pic credit Christopher Coutts.
Pic credit Christopher Coutts.

Dick Campbell said he wouldn’t have asked a dog to endure the weather conditions that dominated Forfar’s 4-2 defeat to Stranraer.

But the gaffer said the chaotic winds were no excuse for his side’s second successive defeat - the first time they’ve lost two consecutive league games since April.

Dale Hilson and Gavin Malin scored for Forfar at either end of the second half but the League One leaders took the three points thanks to Craig Malcolm’s double, as well as goals from Steven Bell and Jackson Longridge.

The win takes Stephen Aitken’s Blues six points clear of the Loons, who drop to third in the league behind Greenock Morton, though Campbell’s troops do have a game in hand over their title rivals.

Dick said: “First and foremost, I didn’t think the game should have been played. I wouldn’t ask a dog to go out in that. I don’t think it was conducive to anything else bar what it was. But it’s no excuse. I thought Stranraer applied themselves properly. They handled the conditions far better than we did.

“I was quite happy for us to lose the toss and go against the wind. For half an hour I thought we played well, we controlled it. We knew Stranraer would come at us because they’re playing well and they had the elements in their favour. Then we switch off at the back post, the ball travels 40 yards and we lose a goal, it’s a very soft goal. There’s a couple of half chances then we score a goal a couple minutes into the second half, it’s a great goal from our point of view. We’ve got some great chances after that to even go 3-2 up.”

Malcolm and Bell had put Stranraer 2-0 up at half time and after Hilson grabbed his eighth league goal of the season just two minutes after half time, Forfar were well on top and saw a number of chances fail to beat Blues goalie David Mitchell.

In one spell at 3-1 down the visitors saw no less than five superb opportunities to score go wanting, all of them coming from inside the six yard box with Hilson, Gavin Swankie, Chris Templeman and sub Omar Kader all somehow failing to hit the back of the net.

Dick couldn’t believe his side’s poor luck in front of goal, but praised Forfar’s opponents for their ruthless streak.

He said: “It’s five chances we’ve had within six minutes, inside the six yard box. It’s just unbelievable.

“We scored eventually, it was too late, and then for their fourth goal, we’ve got two at the back. And fair play to Stranraer, if you’re winning 3-2 with the last kick of the ball you’re looking to defend but they got the ball forward. That’s their spirit.”

Forfar are on easily their poorest run of form of the campaign, taking 11 points from a possible 24 in their last eight outings, and the manager admitted that isn’t the promotion-winning form his side were in at the beginning of the season.

The gaffer also said that there are a number of teams lower down the league table that still aren’t out of the promotion race in what is proving to be by far Scotland’s most competitive league.

He added: “We’re going through a sticky spell, it’s 10 points from 18, and it’s not relegation but it’s not promotion-winning.

“Your Brechin, Peterhead, Airdrie aren’t out of it by any means.”