Great summers evening at Gayfield. A thousand strong crowd, very few away fans, turned up and were treated to a great dsiplay by the Lichties. Stranraer held territorial advantage for the first 30 minutes with their quick passing game and Hill had a good save early. But based on yet another sound defensive game, we started knocking on their defence which was found wanting. A gresat start to the tie - but a lot more yet to be done
Arbroath look to be on the verge of clinching promotion to the second division after establishing a decent lead to take into Saturday's play-off final return at Stair Park.
Player-assistant manager Robbie Raeside, whose extra-time winner saw off Cowdenbeath in the semis, set Arbroath on their way to victory in last night's first-leg before Barry Sellars coolly secured them a two-goal cushion to lessen the strain as they journey to Stranraer.
Now one more organised, disciplined display—of the type which has characterised their progress through the play-offs —at the weekend will see the Lichties over the finishing line.
While Stranraer offered enough at Gayfield to suggest that stepping up is by no means a formality, the Angus side— unbeaten in five meetings with Derek Ferguson's charges this season—do look to have the bit between their teeth.
Predictably and of course understandably, however, boss McGlashan was quick to take a pull on the reins. He said, "I've told the players they can be satisfied with the result but that it's only half-time in the tie. They have to put this game that's just been played out of their minds and focus solely on Saturday.
"This may sound harsh, but I don't want them to enjoy the moment now. That'll be difficult to do, but it's so important. We have to forget about the fact we've established this lead. "If it was half-time in an ordinary league game we wouldn't be whooping and hollering just because we were 2-0 up because we'd more than likely end up with egg on our face.
"And the same principle applies here as it's a two-leg tie. We're happy to have a two-goal lead, but if Stranraer were to score early down there then they'd have momentum and we'd be on the back foot. We'll treat Saturday as a brand-new game, starting off 0-0.
Arbroath had marginally the better of the first-half chances, but it took them until the 44th minute to make the breakthrough.
Stranraer might have struck first when Stephen McConalogue got the better of Roddy Black only to make a hash of his finishing effort, and they were unlucky not to find the net when Daniel Mitchell brought a fine save out of Darren Hill and his attempt to net the rebound was cleared off the line by Craig Tully.
But the Lichties recovered from a sticky start to take a grip of the game. A long Steven Rennie throw-in caused havoc in the visitors' box and when Jamie Bishop got his head to the ball Scott Black took no chances in tipping it over. As Arbroath continued to press, Alan Brazil was guilty of a terrible miss when completely sclaffing his shot from Paul Lunan's low cross-cum-shot before Lunan was denied by the feet of Black after being sent clear by Sellars.
It was from a set-piece that they finally got their noses in front, Bishop nodding Paul Watson's corner back across goal for Raeside to head home from close range. Full-back Roddy Black went close to stretching that advantage early in the second half when his header from Rennie's cross just cleared the bar. But the second goal was delayed only as far as the 59th minute when Stranraer were caught out on the break as Alan Brazil released Sellars from the halfway line and the Gayfield skipper strode to the edge of the box before beating Black with a composed right-foot finish.
Visting strikers Michael Mullen and Gregory Tade both had opportunities to get their side back into the game but neither could get his header on target. And the visitors held their breath as Watson swung a left-foot free-kick over their six-man wall only for the ball to narrowly clear the target with Black scrambling to cover.
Home defender Craig Tully was booked along with Stranraer's Alex White.
Arbroath—Hill, Rennie (McMullen 89), Black, Raeside, Bishop, Tully, Lunan (Masson 70), Campbell (Reilly 83), Brazil, Sellars, Watson. Subs not used—McBride, Morrison.
Stranraer—Black, Kane, Creaney, Dobbins, Noble, Mitchell, Gibson, White, Mullen (Cashmore 75), McConalogue, Tade. Subs not used— Bonnar, McLaughlin, McKinstry, Ferguson.