Played at Cliftonhill Stadm, Coatbridge on Saturday, 22nd September 2012 at 15:00
Albion Rovers v Stenhousemuir at Cliftonhill, Coatbridge on 22.9.12
Irn Bru Scottish Second Division Att 389
Albion Rovers 4 [Crawford 13,84, McGuigan 49, Phillips 82] Stenhousemuir 4 [Kean 26,32,90, Rodgers 56]
Stenhousemuir only made one change to the side that beat Alloa the previous week with Ross McMillan returning after suspension in more or less a straight swap for Scot Buist who was injured in that game. Despite the lack of changes in the side the performance was only a shadow of the Alloa game and it took a Stewart Kean goal two minutes into stoppage time to secure a share of the spoils.
Cliftonhill has been a ground where Stenhousemuir have in the main struggled in recent seasons and the state of the pitch usually has been a valid excuse for the inability to play a decent passing game on it [Rovers of course prefer a passing game as well but have been able to adapt better previously]. This time though there had been a lot of work done on the pitch and although still not a bowling green the Rovers have to be commended for their work in trying to improve it and it looked the best it has for years.
One of the strong points of Stenhousemuir play in recent times albeit with the odd blip has been the defence but on this occasion they had a very uncomfortable time as they struggled to cope with the play of David Crawford, Jason Crooks and Mark McGuigan throughout the game. An indication of things to come happened in only six minutes when Crooks was allowed to back flick a corner towards goal and Callum Reidford was not secure in his handling. A minute later play transferred to the other end and Andy Rodgers headed a Greg Ross cross wide. The first goal of the game came in the 13th minute and was a comedy of errors by Stenhousemuir as they struggled to deal with a Barry Russell throw in and after two head flicks by Stenhousemuir players Reidford had to parry clear to prevent an own goal. The ball landed at Crawford though and the ex-Hibs youth could not believe his luck and fired home.
Stenhousemuir equalised in the 25th minute and this time it was the Rovers defence that failed to cover themselves in glory when Stewart Kean bundled a Bryan Hodge corner home and although Brown Ferguson got the last touchthe ball had already crossed the line.
The Coatbridge side should have taken the lead once again on the half hour when a turn and shot by McGuigan brought out a superb save and recovery by Reidford. The keeper then showed poor distribution and played the ball out to Crooks who should have done better than shoot wide with the goal there for the taking.
Two minutes later Stenhousemuir took the lead when a cross from Brown Ferguson on the right picked out Kean and he steered the ball past Ryan McWilliams . This was followed by a Bryan Hodge volley that went just wide as the Warriors looked to extend their lead.
Reidford came to the rescue again in the 36th minute after Iain Thomson was brushed off the ball by Crawford who then saw his effort saved by the keeper’s feet.
Probably the move of the game so far happened in the 47th minute when Darren Smith and Andy Rodgers combined in a fluid move but the former saw his effort comfortably saved. McGuigan equalised in the 49th minute through perseverance when he got behind the Stenhousemuir defence and release a shot that was stopped by Reidford but he was able to bundle the ball across the line despite the attentions of Iain Thomson. In 55 minutes Stenhousemuir took the lead again with a goal to grace any ground after Smith and Kean combined before crossing to Rodgers who struck a swerving volley with the outside of the right foot across goal and into the net. Just after this Rovers had an appeal for a penalty when it appeared to them that Ciaran Donnelly was fouled in the box but no award was forthcoming.
There then was a spell when the Warriors managed to control the pace of the game and look comfortable for the first time in it. With twenty minutes left Kevin McKinlay came on after his absence through injury. It was a double substitution by Rovers four minutes later that was to have the bigger impact as it re-energised the team. They were rewarded when Gary Phillips was first to react to a cross from the right and nipped in to score the equaliser in 82 minutes. With the roar of the crowd behind them they strove for another goal and David Crawford was allowed to run fully 40 yards before dispatching the ball into an empty net after rounding the keeper. Their efforts caught up with them though in the second minute of stoppage time when Stewart Kean gathered the ball and with a swivel hit a strike that was a goal as soon as it left his boot and thus secured a point for Stenhousemuir that on the balance of play was probably the right result.
Albion Rovers – McWilliams, C.Stevenson [Dick 74], Russell [b39], T.Stevenson, Marriott, Donnelly, Crawford, Innes [b26], Crooks [Howarth 74], McGuigan and Brannan [Phillips h/t]. Subs not used – Tiffney and McGinley
Stenhousemuir –Reidford, Ross [b15], Dickson, Thomson, McMillan [b45], Hodge, Ferguson [McKinlay 70], C.Anderson, Rodgers, Kean and Smith. Subs not used – Lawson, Brash, K.Anderson and Shaw
Referee – Mat Northcroft Assistants – Stuart MacMillan and Thomas Clark