Huge result for Rovers. A real battling team performance and superb win in the end. Great to have Fisher back: much needed for home matches methinks. I think the rowdy cheer when the ref-eventually- blew the whistle sums up just how important that result was.Perhaps a bit harsh on Stranraer, but great effort from all Rovers players today.
Well what a difference a week makes. We were great today for large periods of the game. The team had much more 'dig' about them and although we laboured a wee bit towards the end, we were the better team and really deserved the 3 points.
First thing I noticed today when I climbed the stairs to the pitch side was that Fish was warming up with the first 11. Absolutely brilliant start to the afternoon that was. Good to see Daz going with our best 10 out of 11 players - more on that in a minute. We were also warming up at the Coatbridge end again - hallelujah. And as if that wasn't enough, we were going to be wearing our yellow and red home kit!!! It was like all the stars colliding in perfect unison. I had a good feeling about the game.
I got to my seat, passing Paul Hartley on my way up. Not sure who he was there to see but he didn't last beyond half time. Shame as he missed a cracker of a match. When I got to my seat the older guy who sits close to me had brought his grandson to the game today. One can only speculate as to the severity of the misdemeanour which resulted in such a draconian punishment as an afternoon at Cliftonhill but hey maybe he's our lucky mascot.
The teams emerged and I thought I might need to head back to the car to get my sunglasses. That Stranraer away strip is hideous. A black effort with luminous green wide stripes across the shoulders and down the sides. Halloween was a couple of weeks ago guys, jeez! For the good guys, Fish was back in his number 4 jersey and Ross D was back at number 8. Good signs.
We were well up for this from the off. Plenty of dig in midfield and BoydySturridge and Ryan tearing the Stranraer defence a new one. It was no surprise when we took the lead. From a Stranraer corner Ryan played a long ball up to Ross Stewart and he held off his man to finish smartly for 1-0. That was after about 15 mins. We could have gone 2-0 up shortly afterwards when a Fish corner was headed just over by Mick. Fish then had a long range effort which went wide. A Fish free kick was headed on by Mick but we couldn't finish and then Ryan sclaffed another effort wide.
It wasn't all one way traffic though. Stranraer were dangerous going forward and had plenty possession. Their no 33, Gibson, showed he was game for a laugh by sporting one of the most ridiculous hairstyles you can get; a sort of flat top which is dark at the sides and peroxide blonde on top. He looked like he was auditioning for a Duran Duran tribute group. However he had the last laugh as he jinked inside Ross Davidson and then fired in a shot from about 20 yards for 1-1. The ball seemed to take a deflection or bad bounce which fooled the keeper but it was a decent effort.
Ross Davidson had been putting himself about a bit. He clattered into one tackle and the ref had a word. Wonder what's wrong with him I thought? Maybe his mum hid his teddy last night; whatever it was he was a man on a mission. Next thing he takes the legs away from some guy and he's booked! What's that all about? Good to see though.
We continued to go forward and won a corner on the left. The ball came in and there was some wrestling going on which resulted in a Rovers penalty. I had a brief moment of panic when I saw Willis once again amble his way towards the ball but fortunately Ryan was having none of it and he duly despatched the spot kick for 2-1.
Into the second half and we had a couple of early chances, with Willis putting the best one virtually out for a throw in. At the same time Stranraer were threatening and as we do, we started to sit a bit deep. A decent Stranraer move down the left saw a great cross flicked on which looked a goal all the way. Somehow Ross got across and dived to his left and pushed the ball away for a corner. It was a top class save. Then from the corner there was a wee bit of panic stations as we headed the ball onto our own post but eventually cleared.
Then Stranraer got their breakthrough. We failed to close down and then clear the danger in midfield and yet another shot from 20 odd yards found its way into the back of the net. At that point if you were a neutral then 2-2 was probably a fair-ish reflection. We'd had much the better chances but couldn't put them away.
From a corner the ball found its way to Mick and he got in a great shot which the keeper did well to save. From our next attack Ryan found himself with plenty of time and space just outside the box but he overran it and was lucky I think to get a free kick about 25 yards out in the centre of the pitch. We seemed to take ages to take the free kick. Partly because we brought on McCann as a sub. Funny thing about McCann and I noticed this last week too. First thing he does is tuck his shirt in. Right in, tight all the way round. Looks a bit odd, but very smart I guess. The ref notes all this and then gets his spray out, setting the wall etc etc. Meanwhile I'm looking at my watch thinking I've got work on Monday. After an eternity Ryan steps up and blasts a decent effort which takes a wicked deflection and loops over the keeper. Cue pandemonium amongst the Rovers faithful and we're 3-2 up. And deservedly 3-2 up at that! A few minutes later it should have been 4-2, Ross Stewart was right through on the keeper but couldn't finish.
After that it was some backs to the wall defending from the guys as Stranraer looked for their equaliser. They came forward in waves and we sat deeper and deeper....... If I'm honest I did fear the worst a wee bit, especially when they won a free kick on the edge of the box in the last minute. But we held out and 3-2 was a great result.
What a game then and what to make of it all? Well there's no doubt the Dazza pulled off a master stroke in restoring Fish to his rightful place. Not sure where he got that idea from but it was a good one. Fish had a great game and wasn't far off man of the match for me. Ross Davidson was decent too. A few wayward passes under no pressure but at least he always looks to make a pass; a forward pass at that. Ross Dunlop was really solid in defence and Ross in goals had a great save as I've said and a few other decent catches etc too. Ryan got man of the match and then went off injured. He deserved it I think for his 2 goals. Scott McBride was good too, in fact they all were. Well with the possible exception of Willis. I described him last week as a waste of a jersey which I thought at the time may be a bit harsh. Turns out it wasn't harsh enough. The guy strolls through the game as if he's owns the place but flatters to deceive. He was eventually hooked - which I think must be a first - but he doesn't do it for me I'm afraid. He adds very little to the team, game in and game out. So I think we had 10 of our best 11 players out there today. Not sure who should replace Willis in the starting line up but frankly it won't matter. Whoever comes in will be an improvement.
Crowd today was 321 (copyright Ted Rogers) and for me that makes Willis our very own Dusty Bin. Shame it wasn't more as they missed a cracker. A great reaction from the home fans towards the players at the end showed what it meant to everyone. There looked to me to be about maybe 30 Stranraer fans.
Referee and assistants were okay today. The ref was obviously enjoying the game as much as I was as he played an endless amount of added time, I'm fact I'm surprised I'm home already to type up this drivel. No complaints about the officials.
Back to winning ways then and at last a home performance to be proud of. A great team performance and a great 3 points. After giving everyone pelters last week I take nearly all of it back. QP and the Fishermen drawing worked in our favour today and we cemented 5th spot in this competitive league. Gotta be happy with that. Good times, good times.
Good, hard fought win today and all round good team performance. 3 musketeers - Wallace, Boyd and Fish led the way and saw us through.Ref additionally nearly gave me a heart attack with time added on but we prevailed.A very good 3 points gained.