ARBROATH boss Paul Sheerin is not hitting the panic button despite the Lichties suffering their third consecutive away defeat.
“It’s obviously disappointing to lose, but there was nothing much between the sides,” the Gayfield manager opined.
Nevertheless, the Warriors created the better chances over 90 minutes and probably deserved the points that take them to within three of the Lichties in a play-off place.
But Mr Sheerin refuses to panic though. “We’re fine,” he continued, “We will have a look at the game, of course, and see what we can do to create more opportunities, but generally we have been okay in that department.
“We’re still in a good position, but then so are a number of other teams as it is a very tight league. Both sides struggled a bit to create chances today, but their two central defenders played really well and they were difficult to break down.
“It took a little bit of magic from Gemmell to win the game, and although it could be argued our defenders might have closed him down, you have to credit the player with a good strike.”
With experienced players like David Rowson and Marc Corcoran added to the squad in the last couple of weeks, Stenny served notice that they intend to push for promotion in the second half of the season and they certainly took a grip of this game early on.
Indeed, in the first minute, Gemmell, making a return to the side after a lengthy injury absence, fired in an angled shot that narrowly missed the target and went into the side netting.
Nine minutes later the visitors’ goal survived another close call. Brian Hodge’s corner to the back post was met by Stewart Kean, but his netbound shot was blocked on the line and when the centre smashed the rebound goalwards, Stewart Malcolm did well to stretch and prevent the ball from hitting the net.
Both sides made enforced early substitutions, Arbroath replacing Lee Sibanda with Euan Smith and Corcoran coming on for Kean. Corcoran nearly made a dream debut in the 27th minute. His first time clip from 14 yards was well saved by Scott Morrison, however, the ‘keeper coming out quickly to close down the angles.
Those incidents apart, though, the teams largely cancelled each other out until, that is, a minute from the break when the Warriors made the all important breakthrough.
Kevin McKinlay’s cross was only cleared as far as David Rowson on the right and when the former Aberdeen midfielder delivered into the middle, GEMMELL controlled beautifully on his chest before cracking a beauty into the top right corner from 16 yards.
Half-time: Stenhousemuir 1, Arbroath 0.
Five minutes after the restart Steven Doris forced home ‘keeper Callum Reidford into his first save of the day with a stinging 14-yard shot, but the minder responded well to hold low down at his right post.
Sheerin’s men went on to enjoy their best period of possession for the next half hour or so, but tellingly, Callum Reidford in the home goal was never seriously tested during that time while Stenny continued to look more likely to add to their advantage.
That they didn’t was down to a couple of smart saves from Morrison and Stuart Malcolm getting back to nod a Bryan Hodge netbound chip from 16 yards over the bar as Morrison lay grounded.
The match ended on a sad note for Arbroath when Connor Birse was stretchered off shortly after replacing the player/manager five minutes from time.
“It was just one of those things,” Sheerin later said, “He appeared to catch his studs on the surface and he is going off to hospital.”
Stenhousemuir manager Martyn Corrigan was well pleased with the win. “I’m delighted,” he beamed, “That’s the first time for ages I have been able to field close to what I believe is our best team and they were excellent.”