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We've kept play-off pressure on surprise opponents Alloa

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Chris Jardine | 19:33 UK time, Thursday, 12 May 2011

A 2-0 defeat in our last league match up at East Stirlingshire on Saturday meant we finished the season in fourth place. There was disappointment at the way we finished and certainly some disappointed faces among our support, but the realisation that we had achieved our ambition quickly made those feelings disappear; among the players and management at least.

For whatever reason, there is no great love lost between ourselves and East Stirlingshire and that, coupled with trying to finish second in the league, meant that we really wanted to win the match. To be fair to them, they thoroughly deserved their victory and their celebrations at the end of the match showed exactly how much the win meant to them - as it meant they avoided finishing bottom of Division Three.

The manager made several changes to the side, some enforced and others through choice with the play-off semi-final first leg taking place only four days later. As things turned out, we found ourselves facing Alloa Athletic.

Alloa had a bit of a nightmare finish to their league campaign and their defeat by Livingston, with Stenhousemuir winning, meant they were overtaken on the final day of the season. This was probably the team we knew the least information about and meant the manager had to call on his contacts in order to get the lowdown on our opposition.

We had a brief discussion about them after training on Monday night, but when we go into any match, we always feel that the outcome is more down to what we do ourselves.
Our assistant manager, Andy Aitken, knew a bit more about individual players and touched on this before the match itself.

The final whistle went at the end of an entertaining match and it means we take a 2-1 "half-time" lead up to Recreation Park on Saturday. We were very pleased with the win and the performance, although disappointed to lose a goal and not have that cushion of two to take with us in to that second leg.

If anyone deserved to keep a clean sheet, it was our goalkeeper, Craig Summersgill. I thought he was outstanding and was very unlucky to concede the goal that he did after making a remarkable save initially before the ball rebounded off their player and over the line. If big Summers plays like that again on Saturday, we should feel confident that we can extend our season by another eight days.

You could tell the Alloa boys were obviously delighted to half the deficit to take home with them and, on the balance of play, they certainly deserved it. From the outset, though, we have felt that the pressure was all on the Second Division side and that won't change in Saturday's match.

People may think that 2-1 isn't a big enough lead to defend but that's not what we're all about. Almost the first words that came from the manager was that we would score at their place and that's what we're thinking about.

Of the four teams vying for that Second Division place, we're in the best position - we're the only ones with a lead after all.

I completely forgot to have a wee laugh at the expense of Ian Harty (pictured) a couple of weeks ago, so I'll do it while it's in my head just now. Harty was interviewed after scoring an overhead kick in our 1-1 draw at Stranraer recently and said to the reporter: "I am always trying them in training." Well, the wee man must have some size of a back garden and a goal set-up because he's only ever been at about three training sessions this season!


  • Comment number 1.

    I can just picture Ian Harty in his garden with small goalposts trying his overhead kicks.
    Talking about that goal that he scored at Stranraer. I backed him to score the first goal in that game and was dissapointed when he did not score first. A few days after that game I went online to my Bookies account and noticed that I had won some money when I checked it out I had won for Harty scoring the last goal at Stranraer. I must have mistakenly backed him to score last. Nice mistake for me to make.
    So maybe I will back him to score last goal at Alloa on Saturday.
    I noticed you did not mention that if Annan win against Alloa that the final game will be at Annan against either Albion Rovers or Quenns Park.
    Good luck for Saturday.

  • Comment number 2.

    That reporter was me! Keep up the good work on the blog.

  • Comment number 3.

    Very happy to see Annan doing so well as a closet Annan supporter myself living in the Hillfoots which is near Alloa. Wish I could be there at the Alloa game myself, cheering on the Galabankies but alas I have a meeting to go to which I can't get out of. However good luck on Saturday and I hope to see Annan in the second division next year!

  • Comment number 4.

    I'm sure everyone connected with non-league football will be backing you Chris and the Galabankies all the way! Would be fantastic for the club to be 90 minutes closer to second division football and you are proving to be great representatives of non-league football in the South of Scotland and prove to the rest and the west what can be achieved by clubs in the South and South East.

    All the best and great blogging as always,

    From a seldom poster but regular reader!

  • Comment number 5.

    Thanks to you all for the kind comments and well wishes. Fingers crossed we can do the business tomorrow.

  • Comment number 6.

    Well done today.
    and well done to the people who run Alloa for kindly kicking their manager out when they obviously still needed him.

  • Comment number 7.

    Congratulations, fantastic performance over the two legs! Good luck in the final!

    I can't find any information about the date of the final, when and where is going to be?

  • Comment number 8. has it. Two games, Wednesday (Coatbridge) and Sunday (Annan).

  • Comment number 9.

    Great stuff from you and the boys.

    Very proud of you all.

    Hopefully you can finish the job now.

  • Comment number 10.

    firstly sorry i havent read your blog recently chris, though i have continued to follow the annan results despite living south of the border. to reach the play off final in just your 3rd season in the SFL is a brilliant achievement and i hope win or lose you will all be proud of your efforts. it does make me wonder though if more teams from the regional leagues could do well if they were given a chance to play in the 3rd division? they surely would be better than the likes of elgin, montrose and east stirling! i wouldnt mind hearing your opinion one week about this in your blog.

    anyway good luck for the final. up the annan!

  • Comment number 11.

    I agree with d0ntask that your success this season shows why we need a pyramid in the Scottish game. Having seen your challenge cup game this season it was obvious there was a good spirit in your team and I would imagine its going to be a close 180 minutes this week.
    If we did have a pyramid Clyde would now have been relegated for a 3rd season in a row and the likes of Clydebank could eventually return to the league.
    Chris would you have ever played in the SFL if Gr£tna had not gone bust and Annan not been elected to the league. There must be a lot of players of a similar standard who due to our closed door policy never get the chance to perform at this level.

  • Comment number 12.

    jeanfield_swifts the pyramid in England didn't just happen. The non-League clubs made it happen and when the national conference was formed it took eight years before promotion and relegation was introduced with the Football League.

    Scottish non-League clubs need to introduce a pyramid themselves - which means the Highland League, South of Scotland, West of Scotland and the Juniors putting together a sensible structure BEFORE attempting to get the SFL on-side. The clubs also need to start upgrading their grounds so that when promotion comes that can grasp it.


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