Oct 1 2008 by Colin Paterson, Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
DEFEATED but far from disgraced. Rovers may have succumbed to the league leaders but few inside Cliftonhill would have been able to tell who were the genuine title contenders.
Paul Martin’s men spent 90 minutes showing the rest of the Third Division that they will be in the hunt for a play-off position when the season enters its final furlong.
A third home league loss suggests form in their own backyard will need to be improved, but if the type of display that frightened Stenny can be replicated more often than not, then Rovers have no cause to worry.
“The result was unkind to us,” said the manager. “The performance was very good and I am pleased with how well the team did.
“It is maybe a measure of how the players are doing as the league leaders came here, shaped up behind the ball and tried not to lose the game.
“They played so deep and there was very little space between their defenders and goalkeeper for us to exploit. We didn’t do well in the wider areas but we still created opportunities.”
A late penalty save by Keiron Renton from on-loan Airdrie United youngster Kevin Watt ultimately proved decisive and helped the Larbert men claim a crucial three points.
“Kevin felt confident enough to take it,” added Martin. “After winning the penalty, we felt he had earned the right to take it so there is no blame attached to him.
“He is a good player and has been a terrific acquisition but from this day on, Callan Adam will take every penalty we are awarded.”
Adam levelled Kevin Motion’s opener but John Coughlin’s Stenny emerged victorious thanks to an own goal from Rovers full-back Michael McGowan.
“The two goals were very defendable,” said Martin. “They were only in our box three times but managed to score twice.
“It was an unreal feeling when their second goal went in. We have shown that we can compete with the best in this division and we deserved more from this game.”
Rovers – without crocked starlet Bobby Barr – started well and in the 13th minute, defender Todd Lumsden blazed an effort over the bar.
The home side were matching Stenny in every department but fell behind in the 36th minute. Iain Thomson’s free-kick was latched onto by Motion who diverted a shot beyond keeper David Scott.
The Warriors arrived at Cliftonhill unbeaten in the league and determined to maintain their gap at the top of the table.
And following the interval, they set about attempting to extend their advantage, Steven Hampshire’s ball to Motion was directed goalwards but Alan Reid was on the line to clear the danger.
Rovers found their second wind and in the 66th minute pulled level. They were unlucky not to score when Marc Pollock’s header was touched onto the post and wide by Renton.
But from the resulting corner, Adam’s wonderful inswinging delivery caught Stenny out, with the keeper and Gary Thom unable to prevent the ball from floating into the net.
The scoreline would remain deadlocked for only five minutes, however. Chris McGroarty pushed forward and fired in a drive which clattered off McGowan’s shin and flew past Scott.
Rovers now had to mount a comeback all over again. Tommy Coyne was thrown on for Pollock as Martin tried to unsettle the Stenny rearguard.
And with three minutes left, they were presented with the best possible opportunity to equalise for a second time when John Ovenstone barged over Watt in the box.
Referee Bobby Madden awarded a penalty but Watt couldn’t close the deal, his spot-kick blocked by Renton who earned himself hero status among the Warriors squad.
Luck had conspired against Rovers but they had given their lot. On this occasion, it wasn’t quite enough.
Advertiser man of the match (3pts) – Callan Adam. Strong display from young midfielder as he regains full fitness following injury. Marc Pollock (2pts), Ciaran Donnelly (1pt).
Moment of the match: Kieron Renton’s penalty save denied Rovers at least a point.
Albion Rovers: Scott, Reid, McGowan, Donnelly, Lumsden, Benton, Ferry, Adam, Watt, Pollock (Coyne 80), Canning (Crozier 60). Subs not used: Walker, Hughes, Mitchell(gk).
Stenhousemuir: Renton, Lyle, McGroarty, Thom, Ovenstone, Thomson Tyrrell, Ferguson, Brand, Hampshire (Desmond 80), Motion. Subs not used: Shirra, Love, McEwan, Bennett(gk).
Referee: Bobby Madden.