Stranraer 4 - 2 Annan Athletic: Four-goal Stranraer fight back to claim top spot

Stranraer ended 2011 top of the table after a six-goal thriller against south-west rivals Annan.

It was the home side who had the first chance but Craig Malcolm’s ball over the top would not sit right for Sean Winter and Annan survived.

At the other end it took John Kane’s timely interception to deny Annan. A cross to the back post looked set for Sean O’Connor but Kane managed to hook the ball over his own bar. O’Connor then blazed the rebound over the bar after Ryan Marshall blocked a Steven Sloan effort with his feet. O’Connor wasted an even better chance when his strike partner Ian Harty’s mishit shot fell kindly at his feet but he could only rattle the crossbar.

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After spurning those golden opportunities, Annan took the lead in controversial circumstances in 36 minutes. Referee Kevin Graham initially signalled for a free-kick before consulting with his assistant and awarding a penalty. Harty, a former Stranraer player, duly sent Marshall the wrong way. However, Stranraer were level within five minutes when Winter nodded home Stuart McColm’s deep cross.

The visitors regained the lead on the hour mark when Stranraer failed to clear and O’Connor prodded in from close range. But Stranraer levelled again within a minute when Stephen Stirling blasted home a penalty. The home side took the lead for the first time in 69 minutes when Winter finished off Malcolm’s delightful through ball. And with just two minutes left Malcolm buried the ball from close range after good work by Nathan Shepherd.