The following match report and quotes piece were published in the Falkirk Herald on Monday 17 April 2017.
Stenhousemuir suffered a 1-0 defeat to newly-crowned Scottish League One champions Livingston at Ochilview on Saturday.
Liam Buchanan capitalised on poor goalkeeping to score by far the easiest of his 26 goals this season.
It leaves Brown Ferguson’s men five points behind ninth-placed Peterhead and eight points behind Stranraer – who won their respective fixtures – with nine points left to play for.
The one change to the home side’s starting line-up saw Vinny Berry replaced by Ross Meechan in midfield. They were, however, unable to take advantage of a makeshift Livingston side which made no fewer than six changes.
David Hopkin’s men utilised the blustery conditions early in the match, hemming the home side in. Scott Pittman fired over after only a few minutes and Buchanan persistently threatened.
At the other end, Alan Cook – playing his final match of the season before going for a knee operation on Tuesday – was denied at the edge of the box by the on-rushing goalkeeper Liam Kelly before Mason Robertson stepped out of defence to thunder an effort just beyond the post.
Robertson linked well with Cook and the energetic Conner Duthie down the right several times, as Stenhousemuir ended the half the stronger.
That momentum wasn’t carried on into a scrappy second half which was decided by a goalkeeping error.
Graham Bowman is by no means the only culpable custodian this season, but on this occasion it was he who allowed Cadden’s corner to loop over his head for Buchanan – who had missed seconds earlier in the lead up to the set-play – to nod home.
Ferguson used his full allowance of substitutes but while like their team-mates they showed the requisite battle and desire, they too were found wanting in the final third.
Stenny’s best chance came in the dying minutes and fell to one of those subs, Ally Roy, after some neat link-up from Cook and Oliver Shaw.
Roy did well to get the ball under control but couldn’t guide his shot on target.
Next up, Ferguson’s men travel north this Saturday for a do-or-die clash with their closest competitors Peterhead.
Ferguson remains upbeat about survival chances
Stenhousemuir manager Brown Ferguson said that despite his side’s desperate League One position, the reality is that a win this weekend puts them right back in contention.
A home defeat to Livingston, coupled with Peterhead’s victory at East Fife, means five points now separate the sides going into Saturday’s crunch encounter.
“It’s cup final now,” said Ferguson. “I think people will be going away from here disappointed, with our results and seeing the results of both Stranraer and Peterhead.
“But the reality is that if we win next week it’s two points with two games to go. That is the reality.”
Though disappointed with yet another home defeat, Ferguson once again could not fault the effort of his players, who lacked quality in the final third.
Citing the recent victory away at East Fife, he called for more of the same in order to put them back in contention once again.
“People after the [3-0 defeat to] Stranraer would have been despondent then we went and produced a very good display last week, won 3-1 [versus East Fife], and all of a sudden we were back in the mix.
“We win next week, we’re in it. We lose next week, our fate’s sealed. Simple as that.”
On Alan Cook, who played the 90 minutes, Ferguson confirmed that the forward will go for his operation on Tuesday and miss the rest of the season as a result.
“Tuesday he goes for an operation, this was his last game.
“We lose Alan, he’s done great for us this season but obviously he’s got a knee operation which he needs to deal with.
“And that gives someone else an opportunity to go and play. We miss him from Tuesday but we’ve got other players who can compete for that spot and hopefully do well.”