Mar 6 2012 By Colin Paterson
IRN-BRU SECOND DIVISION:
ALBION ROVERS 1
LOAN Ranger Jack Werndly fired Albion Rovers to their first win in almost three months.
The Ibrox teenager shrugged off worries surrounding his future at his parent club to sink Stenhousemuir.
Werndly’s opportunist goal, in the 83rd minute, earned Rovers a victory which was thoroughly deserved.
But they needed keeper Derek Gaston to go from zero to hero with an injury-time penalty save from Eric Paton after bringing down Andy Rodgers in the box.
Rovers remain bottom of the SFL2 table but are now just a point behind Stirling Albion, in ninth place, and Forfar Athletic in eighth.
The gap to Monklands rivals Airdrie – who visit Cliftonhill this weekend – is now only four points.
“I’m delighted with my first professional goal but really pleased that we managed to get the three points in the end,” said Werndly.
“We’re waiting to find out things at Rangers. We don’t know what is going on so it’s good to come here and do well for Albion Rovers.”
Rovers boss Paul Martin rang the changes following the 3-0 defeat to Stirling Albion on Saturday – making six in all on a rainswept Tuesday night.
Keeper Chris Fahey’s hamstring strain ensured a return in goal for Gaston with Simon Marriott starting in place of Ciaran Donnelly who has a dislocated shoulder.
Goal hero Werndly and Chris Boyle were preferred to Scott Chaplain and Motherwell loanee Jordan Halsman.
Elsewhere, veteran midfielder Danny Ferry came in for Tony Stevenson while former Kilmarnock youngster Danny McKay got the nod ahead of Robert Love.
Rovers opted for a 4-3-3 formation with Danny McKay as the central striker. John Gemmell and Werndly offered support on each side.
The visitors settled for a 4-4-2 shape and looked for Rodgers and Sean Fitzharris to provide the creative spark out wide.
But the first half belonged to Rovers who put together some nice passages of play and carved out a number of good opportunities.
In the ninth minute, Werndly drove straight at keeper Ally Brown before a shot on the turn from Boyle flew just over the bar. Mick O’Byrne came close with a header, from a corner by Boyle.
The latter then fired an effort inches past the post in the 31st minute. Stenny’s only chance of note arrived in the 43rd minute when Paul McHale blasted over following good work on the left-hand side from Rodgers.
However, normal service resumed shortly after the interval with a low shot from Boyle, Rovers’ most influential player, pushed wide by Brown.
Substitute Love then linked-up well with Gemmell but Brown was equal to his effort in the 65th minute of what was turning out to be an intriguing contest.
He should have put his side ahead in the 77th minute when he latched onto a long clearance by Gaston but tried to take the ball past the keeper instead of shooting.
It looked like it wasn’t going to be Rovers’ night. Love headed over before a Gemmell shot was beaten away by Brown. But the home side’s reward for persistence came in the 83rd minute.
An awful backpass by Ross McMillan was prodded into the bottom corner of the net by Werndly who beat Brown to the loose ball.
There was to be late drama, though. Gaston sent Rodgers crashing to the deck but redeemed himself by denying Paton after referee Charlie Richmond pointed to the spot.
Rovers gaffer Martin said: “I thought we deserved to win the game. Stenny are an excellent side but we created lots of chances.
“This game showed the fine line in football but we were on the right side of it. I don’t think ours was a great performance; it was more of a determined one.”
Albion Rovers: Gaston; Reid, O’Byrne, Marriott, Russell; Ferry (Stevenson 70), McStay, Boyle; McKay (Love 62), Werndly, Gemmell.
Subs not used: Chaplain, Halsman, Barnes(gk).
Stenhousemuir: Brown; Paton, McKinlay, McMillan, Lawson; Fitzharris (Murray 45), Thomson, McHale (Smith 70), Rodgers; Kean, Deuchar.
Subs not used: Campbell, Hamilton, Diamond(gk).
Referee: Charlie Richmond.