Warriors hang on to League One status by slimmest margin

The following match report and quotes piece were published in the Falkirk Herald on Thursday 5 May 2016.

A dramatic final day saw Stenhousemuir avoid the relegation play-off spot despite a 3-1 defeat at Ochilview.
Scott McBride’s second half double, along with an Ally Love strike, put Albion Rovers 3-0 up before Jamie McCormack netted a late consolation.

Going into Saturday’s fixtures, no fewer than eight of League One’s were still unsure of what division they would be in next season.

Albion started the brighter in the afternoon sunshine, with Love and McBride spurning early chances. Jon Robertson’s shot then shaded the bar before Alan Cook’s effort was cleared off the line.

Mark Gilhaney and Colin McMenamin came close shortly after as Brown Ferguson’s men finished the half stronger.

With little daylight separating them from Cowdenbeath and Brechin City in the table, Stenhousemuir knew a win meant safety, anything else kept them in the dark. Going in goalless at half-time – plus the news that Brechin had taken the lead – must have worried Ferguson.

He was further discouraged when his side gave away a cheap goal shortly after the break. Albion’s Ross Davidson collected the ball in the centre of the park before sweeping the ball out to Alan Reid.

The full-back linked with Spas Georgiev – on as a half-time substitute – before crossing for Love, whose header came back off the post. McBride then muscled his way past the Stenhousemuir defence to tap into an empty net.

Ferguson responded by brining on Carlos Manzana-Martinez for Kieran Millar before Euan Murray pulled out a smart save from Ross Stewart in the Rovers goal.

Minutes later Stenhousemuir were further behind when they allowed Gary Fisher’s long throw to bounce in the box.

Their defence could only watch as Love lashed the ball past Colin McCabe.With the home side now committing men forward in a desperate attempt to salvage something, McBride added his second and Rovers’ third.

The striker collected Fisher’s pass and bore down on goal before sliding the ball underneath McCabe, ending the game as a contest.

Stenny were now relying on Stranraer to preserve their 1-0 lead over Cowdenbeath to ensure survival.

As it stood, a Cowdenbeath equaliser would have put Stenhousemuir into 11th and given Albion a great chance of clinching a Championship play-off spot.

An anxious Stenny now had the Albion box under siege and were given something to cheer when McCormack buried Robertson’s cross.

The goal had little bearing in a disappointing afternoon at either end for the Warriors.
Thankfully, Stranraer held out against Cowdenbeath, securing Stenhousemuir’s status as a League One side.

 

Warriors safe but must improve says boss

Stenhousemuir manager Brown Ferguson has called on his team to improve at both ends of the park after their 3-1 defeat to Albion Rovers.

They headed into the match knowing a win would ensure survival but were made to sweat on other results during a thumping defeat.

Ferguson acknowledged that Stenny had the better of the first half but allowed Albion to capitalise on some poor defending.

He said: “We created a number of chances in the game, a lot of really good chances, we just weren’t ruthless enough in front of goal and defensively we gave away goals too cheaply.

“It just sums our season up. We need to be better in front of goal, we need to defend with a purpose and we need to be defensively stronger.”

He continued: “There were two or three chances in the first half that we could have been more clinical with.

“Their keeper’s pulled off some really good saves as well, but their goals came too easy.”

Ferguson guided the Warriors to safety as caretaker last season before signing a permanent deal and setting a modest target of 40 points for this campaign.

They reached exactly that and any other year it would have preserved their league status comfortably.

Such was the tightness of this season’s League One however, Stenhousemuir finished just one point above the relegation play-off spot.

“I knew 40 points was going to keep us safe,” Ferguson said with a sarcastic grin.

“That was the objective that we set, so for the group of players that are in there and everybody connected, I just want to thank them for their efforts.

He continued: “For me, the bar needs to be raised again next year.

“It’s my job to make sure we bring in a quality of player and have a type of football that raises that bar.”

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