Forth Wanderers 3 Royal Albert 2
The Wanderers completed their league campaign with a 3-2 victory over Royal Albert at Kingshill in a tough encounter where the visitors generally gave as good as they got.
In a nice touch, Peter from the Albert presented Forth manager Jamie McKenzie with a congratulatory bottle of champagne and the Albert players formed a guard of honour to welcome the Wanderers on to the park.
However, from the outset it was clear that the visitors were not here to make up the numbers and David Hamilton flashed a free kick wide from a good position with barely two minutes played. Forth responded with a Kristopher Dick shot which was easily held by Paul Stevenson in the Albert goal after good setup play by Warren Grenfell. Michael Neill was next to try his luck for the visitors, but his powerful free kick was straight into the arms of Wanderers keeper David Cherrie.
Kristopher Dick then setup Barry McGeechan who turned his defender before mis-hitting his shot which was easily gathered by Stevenson. McGeechan then met a Wullie McLaren free kick with his head but didn’t connect properly and the ball flew over. The game was flowing from end to end with neither side dominating, but it was the visitors who made the breakthrough with 17 minutes played. A ball through the middle caused problems in the Forth defence and with Cherrie out to block, the initial effort rebounded from the post into the path of Alan Campbell who stroked the ball into the empty net.
Forth replied with McGeechan setting McLaren free down the right,but his cross was just behind Taylor Scott and the chance went a begging. McGeechan himself came close on 43 minutes, his 25 yarder flying narrowly wide with Stevenson scrambling across his goal. Campbell then had a chance for the Albert but he couldn’t get the required curl on the ball and it went wide.
The Wanderers came close just before the interval when a looping cross from Gerry Ward appeared to be drifting in under the bar until Stevenson turned it over, although the Albert keeper claimed not to have touched it. The final chance of the half came at the other end, when a Fraser Stobie free kick was met by Neill, but his looping header drifted just over.
Quick thinking from McLaren almost brought the equaliser after 48 minutes when he spotted Stevenson off his line and fired a free kick from the halfway line which rebounded off the post to safety. The Albert keeper was leading a charmed life and almost let a Dick shot through his legs a minute later but the Forth pressure reaped it’s reward on 51 minutes, when they equalised through a superb individual goal from Barry McGeechan. Picking the ball up just inside the Albert half he moved towards the visitors goal before playing a one-two with Scott, receiving the ball back, drifting past the defence and drilling the ball low into the corner. Some player, some goal.
The Albert came close to regaining the lead 5 minutes later, but Cherrie got down well to his right to turn away a free kick from Neill. Forth were enjoying their best spell of the game and almost went in front when a good John Rennie ball sent McLaren away but his powerful shot was inches over the bar. The Wanderers did take the lead on 64 minutes through a disputed penalty, when an Albert defender was penalised for a handball when it appeared to strike his leg. Regardless, Kristopher Dick stepped up and hammered the ball into the net to make it 2-1.
Forth continued to press and made it 3-1 after 73 minutes. A McLaren corner on the left was met by the head of Martin Hannaway, but keeper Stevenson did well to turn the ball on to the post only for the rebound to fall to Jason Corbett who hammered the ball home. It looked to be a case of how many now as Stevenson saved from Hannaway, but credit to the Albert who finished the game strongly and a Steven Clark goal with 4 minutes to go ensured a nervy last few minutes for the Forth faithful.
Another victory makes it 12 out of the last 13 in the league and means the Wanderers finish 8 points clear at the top of the division. What a season !
Forth team : Cherrie,Corbett,Ward(Watson),McMullen,L.Tait,Rennie,Grenfell(Hannaway),K.Dick,