Crucial win for Forth in battle against relegation

Willie McLaren puts Forth Wanderers 2-1 up against Bellshill Athletic (Pic by Paul Cram)
Willie McLaren puts Forth Wanderers 2-1 up against Bellshill Athletic (Pic by Paul Cram)

Forth Wanderers manager Jamie McKenzie is eyeing survival in McBookie.com Central Division 1 after a vital 4-2 home win on Saturday.

The victory over relegation rivals Bellshill Athletic at Kingshill Park sees Forth third bottom of the table and still in the drop zone, but they are just one point off safety with games in hand on rivals.

“I’m still confident of getting away from the relegation zone by the end of the season,” Jamie said.

“I have always stayed positive about where we are in the league.

“We still have a number of games to play which is great.

“I said to the boys before last Saturday that we had three massive games coming up against Bellshill, Johnstone and Neilston, teams who are all down there near the bottom.

“If everything goes to plan, hopefully we will be above Neilston by the time we play them.”

Last Saturday’s dramatic encounter against Bellshill started badly for Forth when they conceded an early goal to Scott Symon.

But the hosts equalised with a Craig Gupwell header midway through the first half before Willie McLaren shot home to put Wanderers 2-1 up at half-time.

Forth keeper Martin Meek – brought in for regular number one David Cherrie – then kept the Kingshill Park men in front with a fine penalty save from Richard Kane after 55 minutes.

This was the third time in three weeks that a Forth keeper had saved a spot kick.

“That save gave us the momentum to kick on again,” Jamie said.

Barry McGeechan netted to make it 3-1 for Forth, before a late Taylor Scott header put the hosts further ahead.

Symon scored again late on to put some pressure on Forth, but the Clydesdale team saw out the remaining minutes.

McKenzie reckons the improvement in Forth’s form in recent weeks is partly due to them at last having a run of successive games in each of the past four Saturdays.

This makes a refreshing change for a Forth team who have endured a mammoth 12 weather related postponements this season.

Jamie said: “It is great that we’ve had a chance to play a few games in a row.

“A lot of our games were off earlier in the season which was an absolute nightmare.

“But that is four weeks in a row we’ve played now and that is important.”

Some within the Bellshill camp were unhappy that only two minutes of stoppage time were added on at the end after “time wasting” by Wanderers.

Jamie said: “We were taking corners and throw-ins a bit slower to run the clock down. But we would still have won even if the extra time had been added.”