Top class Rab shows value of experience with superb save to keep Forfar in pole

Pic credit Christopher Coutts.
Pic credit Christopher Coutts.

Forfar Athletic maintained their spot at the top of Scottish League One after an exhilarating 0-0 draw with Dunfermline Athletic.

The Loons would have been feeling aggrieved on the way back up the M90 not to have picked up all three points and rightly so, with goalkeeper Rab Douglas not having a save to make until the 85th minute from a controversial Chigozie Ugwu penalty.

The 42-year-old stopper slammed recent criticism of the age of Forfar’s defence, saying that the value of the side’s experienced defence speaks for itself given how Dick Campbell’s troops have done so far this season.

He said: “I don’t think there’s any problem at Forfar with age, not for me anyway.

“Would you drink whisky or would you drink malt whisky? It’s a good age, there’s good experience. We’ve come away from a full-time club with a clean sheet and we’ve got one of the best defensive records in the league.”

Douglas’ Pars counterpart Ryan Scully had an astonishing game at the other end, denying Forfar’s on-fire attackers with no fewer than seven phenomenal saves.

Former Scotland goalie Rab made a beeline for Ryan at full time to congratulate him on the display.

He continued: “It was a game for goalies. I think Ryan’s made some great saves. The penalty was the only save I made, and Ryan’s made some exceptional saves so it was nice to go up and congratulate him at the end.”

The visitors named an unchanged starting 11 while Jim Jefferies restored Lewis Martin and Andy Geggan to the Pars’ line-up.

Andy Stirling went close for the hosts after four minutes, letting loose from 30 yards but the effort was over the bar.

Forfar then grew into the game after a shaky start and Dale Hilson saw a short range effort blocked 
by the defence.

Josh Falkingham then fired over the Loons crossbar following a corner.

Gavin Swankie should have made it 1-0 on 20 minutes when he nipped in to seize upon a poor back pass - one of many - to Scully but his effort was wide of the target.

Faissal El Bakhtaoui and Michael Moffat were unable to break the resolute Forfar back four before Hilson played a poor pass to Danny Denholm in the final third when the winger was in a terrific position.

Scully had to make a fine save from Swankie right after the restart before Darren Dods headed just over the bar.

Skipper Swankie had a desperately close effort just after, stealing another poor back pass to Scully before hitting his effort from a narrow angle off the far post.

The Pars goalie then made his best stops yet, denying James Dale from close range before blocking Hilson’s follow-up - the save from Dale in particular a truly excellent one.

Dunfermline almost stole the points though when the referee awarded the home side a penalty for a handball by Stuart Malcolm, a poor decision that saw justice done when Douglas denied Uwgu with a sensational stop after the Pars players had argued over who was taking it.

Big Rab said that uncertainty only helped his chances of blocking the spot kick.

He added: “It was interesting that they were arguing over who was taking it, and that helped me.

“We’re top of the league, we’re still there and we’re there on merit.”

Dunfermline: Scully, Williamson, Buchanan, Martin, Millen (Whittle 66), Geggan (Forbes 55), Spence, Falkingham, Stirling, El Bakhatoui (Ugwu 71), Moffat.

Subs not used: Drummond, Byrne, Smith, Goodfellow

Forfar Athletic: Douglas, Baxter, Dods, Malcolm, Paterson, Kader, Husband (Malin 57), Dale, Denholm, Hilson, Swankie.

Subs not used: Dunlop, Fotheringham, Templeman, Keiller, Smith, Salmon