Goals from Martin Grehan and Sean Dickson gave the Warriors a well earned win against Greenock Morton and the victory was well earned against an in-form side who have been tipped to make an immediate return to the Championship. Stenhousemuir took their goals well but then had to defend valiantly for the final quarter to make sure of the points.
“It was a good win, it was good to get three points,” said manager Scott Booth, who added: “I think we played well for about 55 minutes and then it was backs against the wall for the final 25 minutes or so but even within that there were some good battling performances, plus we had a little bit of luck, which we have not been getting at times. In the end we deserved the win, especially because of the way we played in the early part of the game and I thought we scored two really good goals.”
There were similarities with previous week at Peterhead when the Warriors conceded an early goal and then, despite having the majority of the play, were thwarted by a resolute Peterhead defence as they struggled to create clear cut chances. This time it was the other way around as Stenhousemuir, after conceding soon equalised then took the lead and were able to block everything Morton threw at them during the frantic finale.
“It was a bit like that,” agreed Booth. “I felt that against Peterhead we could easily have scored in the second half and I am sure Jim Duffy [the Morton manager] would have felt the same about the last half hour of our game.
“I think the important thing for Peterhead and for us was having the lead because once you have it it gives you something to defend and to hang on to. It is much more difficult to chase the game and try to nick it when you have to get back into the game.
“Sometimes you know you are going to have to defend like that and particularly against the full time teams and teams who are doing well up the table, so from that perspective, given it was Morton and they have started the season really well and that Jim Duffy is a very experienced manager and he knows what it is about, I thought it was an excellent result.”
Battling back to gain a point or a win is nothing new as the Warriors scored a plethora of late goals at the end of last season but that ability had been lacking this term and is was a good confidence boost for Booth's team and, sometimes, it can bee a bigger confidence boost to win from adversity rather than leading from the start. Booth said: “I think we have proved in the past that we can battle back, but I think, more importantly, was that we lost a goal again quite easily, quite softly and that was more of a problem. It is something we have been guilty of for the last month, we play well in spells and at some moment the opposition have a chance and they finish it and that has been very costly for us.
“But I know what you mean, sometimes you lose a goal and the reaction is what we gave on Saturday and it was a really good reaction, coming back with a really good goal and after we scored it was a little bit like normal business. I think that before they scored we looked like the team who were more likely to score but after they scored we still looked like the team more likely to score.
“It was good to come out in the second half and go and get the second goal because there have been a number of performances where we have been level at half time and doing all right and we have asked the question 'can we go and now take the game by the scruff of the neck and win it' and although at times it has looked like we possibly could, generally over the last month it has not been the case, so it was good that we could actually go out in the second half and win the game. So, all in all, I am very happy.
Stenhousemuir certainly created more chances against Morton than they did at Peterhead although Booth puts some of this down to the nature of the game and so comparisons are not always that simple, he said: “I think it is difficult, Morton were still playing to try to win the game, while Peterhead were just playing to kill the game. It is a totally different way to play and I think because Morton were still looking to win they did leave a little bit more space, whereas Peterhead were sitting back in there with five defenders pretty much with two in front and one ahead and that is always difficult to play against as you find most of the chances are in front of, rather than behind, as there is no space to get in behind the defence. It was a little bit different against Morton and that is why we were able to create some good chances with some nice bits of play.”
Stenny are home again this week, against Stranraer who are two points ahead in the table and another win would put the Warriors in a much stronger position. Apart from the win against Morton as a confidence boost, Booth can also look forward to the game with an almost fully fit squad and with the chance of welcoming back last season's player of the year Chris Smith in the near future. Smith has missed all of the season so far after receiving a very bad gash to his leg in a cycling accident but the manager is hopeful of seeing him fit for action soon, although a return to fitness for the first-choice keep will also give Booth a lot to think about.
“Wally is not bad, he is three or four weeks away, maybe be sooner it just depends on how he goes,” said Booth. “He is just back into a little bit of training now and it is good to see him back on the park. Now we have three good goalkeepers to choose from which is never a bad thing, it does give me a bit of a headache but it is good to see someone like Wally back and getting closer to fitness again, he was player of the season last year for us and he is a big character in the squad and he has so much experience and you can never have too much of that.
“Greg [Fleming] has played really well and whenever he has been called upon he has been excellent and made some really good saves and important saves at crucial times and he did that again on Saturday. I am spoiled for choice in that department.”
The only other player definitely missing for the Stranraer game will be midfielder Bryan Hodge, who dislocated his shoulder in the opening minutes of the game at Dunfermline and he is still a month away as Booth confirmed: “Hodgey will be about another four weeks, depending on how well he recovers but we have got to take this one carefully because it is the first time he has done it and we do not want it to reoccur. We will take it easy with him but the good thing about it is he is able to do some non-contact football exercises and that is useful, plus he is a fit boy anyway so he will keep his fitness and that could mean it will not take him too long to get back into the side again.”
“Like a couple of the players we have, he tends to like the sliding tackle so he will need to be very careful after what has happened but, normally speaking, when players have gone through an injury like that with that sort of pain they realise it is not ideal to be going to ground that easily so hopefully he will keep on his feet a bit more.”
Martin Grehan was substituted after 68 minutes against Morton but the gaffer is sure he will be fit to face Stranraer and is also happy with the fitness of Josh Watt, who took a hard knock at Peterhead and had to be substituted. Booth said: “Martin is fine, he has done great job. He has been constantly holding the ball up for us and giving the centre-halves a problem and you find a player that does that takes the brunt of the centre-halves tackles and he has been doing that really well for us but I think he will be fine.
“Josh is fine, no lingering problems, he is 100% as far as I know. We are pretty much a full squad apart from the two mentioned.”