By Chris Toner
A late penalty denied ten-man Albion Rovers their second straight home victory as they drew 2-2 with Stenhousemuir in a frantic encounter at The Reigart Stadium.
Rovers looked set for three points through Jamie Leslie’s opener on the stroke of half time and Callum Wilson’s strike, but with three minutes to go, Ewan Wilson was sent off for a handball in the box, from which Warriors captain Ross Forbes converted from the spot, to go with substitute Will Sewell’s earlier goal.
Despite missing out on a crucial three points, Rovers are off the foot of cinch League Two by virtue of a superior goal difference of seven over Annan Athletic, who lost 1-0 at Galabank to joint-top Dumbarton.
After a quiet opening ten minutes, the game sprung into life as Charlie Reilly’s dangerous cross bounced off the crossbar. At the other end seconds later, Tam Orr’s powerful header forced a stunning one-handed save out of Jack Leighfield.
Another 15 minutes would pass before the next real chances as Callum Wilson put a shot straight at Conor Brennan. Again within moments of Rovers having a chance, Orr nearly diverted a Stenny cross into the net which was deflected behind for a corner, from which Michael Miller had a shot blocked, before Matt Yates put the ball well wide.
Ten minutes before the break, Blair Malcolm teed it up for Kyle Fleming who had a blazing shot from distance, with only the woodwork once again denying Rovers the opening goal. Rovers continued to threaten as Adam Fernie had a chance blocked and Stenny defender Daniel Higgins got a foot to Ewan Wilson’s goalward attempt.
Rovers finally got the deserved breakthrough in the last action of the half as Leslie headed home from Reilly’s corner.
The visitors wasted no time chasing an equaliser after the break as Yates’ chance in the box was comfortably saved by Leighfield. Rovers had a chance of their own to double their lead as Reilly drove a chance from the edge of the penalty area at Brennan.
With an hour gone, Callum Wilson played the ball through to Reilly in the box, whose shot was deflected over for a corner.
Stenhousemuir equalised as sub Sewell made an impact, getting through on goal and coolly slotting past Leighfield. Rovers looked to respond through Callum Wilson, but his effort failed to trouble Brennan.
But he would not be denied again as minutes later he fired home with the assist coming from Reilly. Scott Roberts had a chance to kill the game for Rovers late on but fired his effort out of the park.
As stoppage time approached, Stenhousemuir won a penalty as Ewan Wilson received a straight red card after being judged to have handled Forbes’ on target attempt. The skipper sent Leighfield the wrong way as he equalised for his side, who almost snatched a last-gasp winner as substitute Niyah Joseph hit the bar, with Ross Philp’s rebound going inches wide.
Albion Rovers: Leighfield, Fernie, Malcolm, Sonkur, Fleming, C Wilson (C), Leslie, Roberts, Reilly (booked 89′), E Wilson (sent off 87′) Graham Substitutes: Smith, Testa, McColl, Duncan, Dolan, Wright, Semirimu, Henderson
Stenhousemuir: Brennan, Miller, Higgins, Corbett, Walker (74′ for Joseph), Forbes (C), Philp, Wedderburn (63′ for Anderson), O’Reilly (booked 62′, 63′ for Brown), Orr (63′ for Sewell), Yates Substitutes: Cantley, Anderson (63′ for Wedderburn), Joseph (74′ for Walker), Brown (63′ for O’Reilly), Sewell (63′ for Orr)
Referee: Scott Lambie
Assistant Referees: Michael Banks, Ian Hart
Albion Rovers Man of the Match: Ayrton Sonkur