It has been a long time in coming but Paul Sheerin’s first league goal of the season was well worth the wait.
With 10 minutes remaining, and the Lichties leading 3-1, the Gayfield player/boss expertly curled a corner kick high into the roof of the Stranraer net to ensure an impressive victory in a match his side simply had to win to retain hopes of avoiding relegation from League One.
Sheerin modestly admitted he wasn’t necessarily aiming for the ball to go in, but was nevertheless delighted with the outcome. He said: “I can’t say I deliberately tried to score.
“You just try to put the ball into an area where it will hopefully cause problems and I got a wee bit lucky. I think it’s the first time I’ve scored direct from a corner.”
Of greater importance, however, was the final result. Arbroath’s victory combined with East Fife’s last minute defeat by Stenhousemuir, has raised hopes that the Lichties can still catch the Methil men and escape the drop.
There’s a four-point gap to be made up and only three games to play, so Sheerin knows it’s still a big challenge.
He said: “What happens elsewhere is out of or hands, all we can do is look after ourselves.
“If East Fife win their games we are doomed. All we can do is stress to the players that we need to win our games.”
A repeat of this performance in each of the final fixtures would do very nicely indeed. Arbroath were good value for their win and if there had been more peformances like this in the last seven months, they would not be in the precarious position they are currently facing.
The Lichties, who played into a fearsome gale in the first half, dealt relatively comfortably with everything Stranraer threw at them before edging into the lead in first half injury time.
Sheerin was the creator, setting up a chance which Paul McManus gleefully converted to claim his sixth goal in 11 appearances since coming to Gayfield in January.
The second period was just 13 seconds old when Alan Cook sliced through the centre of the visitors’ defence before unleashing a powerful shot which David Mitchell got his hands to put couldn’t stop.
Little over a minute later Cook was on fire again as he took a pass from Sheerin, cut into the box and fired an angled drive into the far corner.
These were the midfielder’s first goals since November and took his tally to the season up to 12, all this despite the fact he has been suffering from ankle ligament damage which has prevented him from training for the past three weeks.
Sean Winter ensured the home fans couldn’t fully relax when he pulled one back in the 51st minute but Sheerin’s magnificent strike dispelled any worries. Adam Forde’s goal three minutes into added time only served to put a more respectable look on the scoreline from a Stranraer viewpoint.
Next stop Forfar for a huge derby tomorrow (Saturday).