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Play-off pain for Peterhead as Stenny claim aggregate win

Sat 12 May 2018

Blue Toon’s slender second leg win was not enough to gain promotion Blue Toon’s slender second leg win was not enough to gain promotion

PETERHEAD 1-0 STENHOUSEMUIR 

(Aggregate 1-2)

 

By Glenn Moir

 

 

It will be another season in Scotland’s bottom tier for Peterhead after Stenhousemuir clung on to win the play-off final and promotion to League 1.

The Blue Toon, after losing the first match 2-0, were up against it for the second leg at Balmoor but they gave it a good shot.

After surviving a ropey first half, Jim McInally’s patched-up team came to life in the second period and Russell McLean gave them a lifeline with a header in the 54th minute.

Even after David McCracken saw red, Peterhead continued to probe but they were unable to force a second goal and Jack Leitch’s stoppage time dismissal just about finished off their chances.

There was plenty of effort on show but it was still a disappointing way to round off a season, which had promised so much.

Whether the target was the title, promotion or both, ultimately Peterhead have come up short.

Nobody can argue with their 76 points haul.  Few would have predicted that would not have been enough to top League 2 come May.

But points and positions count for nothing when the play-offs come around - just ask fourth-top Stenny, who finished 22 points behind Peterhead.

Brown Ferguson’s team dropped out of League 1 alongside the Blue Toon last year.

Their swift return, at the Buchan club’s expense, was brought about mainly by what happened in the second half at Ochilview on Wednesday.

Two Mick Dunlop headers had Stenny firmly in command of the tie and, really, they should have been out of sight by half-time in Aberdeenshire.

An unfit McCracken alongside a makeshift partner in Russell McLean meant Peterhead were given a torrid time, especially early on.

Mark McGuigan wasted a glorious third minute chance when he raced clean through on goal but with just Greg Fleming to beat, he blazed wildly off target.

The home rearguard was cut open again in the ninth minute, Martin Scott nodding the ball into the path of Harry Paton, whose goalbound shot was well blocked by Jamie Stevenson.

There were other scary and hairy moments for the Blue Toon supporters but their favourites got a grip and after finishing the half in a more composed fashion, they went on to dominate the second period.

Stevenson should have brought them right back into the tie four minutes after the interval.  Willie Gibson stood up a cross to the back post and after Jordon Brown headed back across goal, Stevenson sent a close-range volley over the crossbar.

Moments later, Stevenson tested Chris Smith was a powerfully-struck shot from distance and then the visiting goalkeeper tipped over a Leitch drive as Peterhead began to press.

The hosts were rewarded when McLean, who shook off a tough start to enjoy a fine match, headed in Gibson’s corner from eight yards.

Momentum was broken when McCracken was sent off in the 66th minute, the Peterhead skipper receiving a second yellow card for handball, deemed to be deliberate.

Despite being a man short, Peterhead piled numbers forward in the closing stages and substitute Aaron Norris went close with a fizzing shot before Scott Brown drove straight at Chris Smith.

With seconds left, Leitch cynically chopped down an opponent when chasing back and the game was up.  So were Stenhousemuir.

 

 

                                 Fleming

 

    Stevenson McLean McCracken McIlduff

   

                              Brown Ferry

 

                Jo.Brown   Gibson   Leitch

 

                                  Smith