By Connor Ryan
Albion Rovers starting XI: 1. Jack Leighfield 2. Adam Fernie 4. Ayrton Sonkur 22. Luke Graham 12. Ewan Wilson 8. Jamie Leslie 6. Kyle Fleming 3. Blair Malcolm 7. Callum Wilson 14. Joe Bevan 11. Charlie Reilly
Subs: 9. Scott Roberts (replaced Joe Bevan on 76’) 15. Devan McColl 16. Barry Duncan 17. Christopher Smith 18. Kieran Dolan 19. Max Wright (replaced Luke Graham on 85’) 23. Regan Cairney-Smith
Forfar Athletic starting XI: 1. Marc McCallum 5. Mark Docherty 19. Andrew Munro 25. Adam Hutchinson 2. Robert Nditi 14. Sebastian Ross 16. Finn Robson 6. Kyle Hutton 7. Craig Thomson 17. Ben Armour 33. Nathan Flanagan
Subs: 3. Thomas Brindley 8. Josh Jack 9. Matthew Aitken (replaced Craig Thomson on 68’) 12. Callum Moore (replaced Robert Nditi on 81’) 24. Darren Watson (replaced Nathan Flanagan on 78’) 26. Max Gillies (replaced Ben Armour on 77’) 31. Jay Kennedy
Rovers fell to their first defeat of 2023 as we lost 1-0 to Forfar Athletic on our return to Cliftonhill with Finn Robson grabbing the only goal of the game.
Despite two previous 4-0 wins for Rovers coming into the game and confidence being high, Rovers looked lacklustre in front of goal as Forfar keeper Marc McCallum had little to deal with.
The first chance of the game would fall to Rovers in the ninth minute as Jamie Leslie picked up the ball in midfield and played a lovely ball through to Joe Bevan who had a strike at goal abut sadly his attempt was dragged wide of the post.
Forfar would then come back with a chance, arguably the biggest chance of the half, just a minute later as Craig Thomson’s effort from just inside the box smashed off Jack Leighfields right hand post and was eventually cleared by the Rovers defence.
Charlie Reilly, who had been showing a small sign of injury throughout the opening 20 minutes, was wiped out after getting the better of Roberto Nditi resulting in a yellow card for the Forfar defender.
Coming up to the half hour mark, the game seemed to be tilting more in Forfar’s favour as Leighfield and the Rovers defence were forced to deal with some chances.
Jamie Leslie also picked up Rovers only booking of the match in the middle of the park.
Leslie would have a chance of his own just minutes later as he struck the ball towards goal from the edge of the box, but a deflection off a Forfar player caused the strike to lose it’s power.
Rovers would end the half with a couple of dangerous chances from Reilly and Leslie however none managed to find the back of the net so we went into the break goalless after an evenly contested first half.
Forfar would start the second half full of energy, even managing to have the ball in the back of the net through Nathan Flanagan but his goal was ruled out due to a foul in the build-up.
Reilly would then go close once again in the 51st minute as he charged down the left hand side into the box but his effort was blasted into the side netting.
It would be Forfar who would break the deadlock on the hour mark despite Rovers appearing to gain the momentum.
The goal was caused by a defensive error between Jack Leighfield and Luke Graham resulting in an easy finish for Finn Robson following some good high pressing from Forfar.
Forfar’s second booking of the game would come five minutes later as Nathan Flanagan fouled Blair Malcolm.
With 20 minutes left to play, Charlie Reilly would find more space down the left-hand side as he beat Nditi with a nice shift down the wing allowing him to blast a driven ball across the box, but McCallum did well to claim it.
The firsts substitution of the game for Rovers would see an attacking change with 15 minutes to play with Joe Bevan being replaced by Scott Roberts.
A second attacking substitution would follow with just five minutes to play as Luke Graham was swapped out for Max Wright as Rovers looked to go for it.
The only other notable event for the rest of the game was a booking for Forfar’s Kyle Hutton late on, resulting in the visitors taking all three points once again this season at Cliftonhill.
Despite the defeat against a side Rovers haven’t beat since 2017, confidence remains high as Rovers now set their eyes on an away trip to Elgin City next Saturday who now sit six points above us in the race for the play-offs.
Goal scorers: Finn Robson (Forfar Athletic)
Bookings: Jamie Leslie (yellow) Nathan Flanagan (yellow) Kyle Hutton (yellow) Roberto Nditi (yellow)
Referee: Graham Beaton
Man of the match: Blair Malcolm