Forfar Athletic earned promotion to League One with an emphatic 5-1 defeat of Peterhead, giving them a 7-2 aggregate win.
The Forfar Athletic rollercoaster continues. Two years after blowing the chance of promotion to the Championship in a dramatic play-off final against Alloa Athletic, and a year after suffering relegation to League Two, the Angus side are back in League One after an emphatic play-off final victory over Peterhead.
Even in accomplishing their mission for the season, Gary Bollan’s team did it the hard way after relinquishing an 11-point lead at the top of the table in the last few months of the regulation season, before roaring back from two goals down to Annan Athletic in the play-off semi-final.
Given their dramatic recent travails, it would have come as a welcome surprise to their supporters to see their yo-yo team negotiate yesterday’s play-off final second leg with minimum fuss. Leading 2-1 from the first leg on Wednesday, they all but assured their return to the third tier with two goals in the opening 17 minutes, scored by Lewis Milne and David Cox. Aside from a brief Peterhead flurry before the break, the visitors rarely looked in any trouble.
“From minute one, the players were outstanding,” said manager Bollan. “We didn’t expect it to be as convincing as it was. I’m not usually that emotional, but emotions are getting the better of me at the minute. It’s a moment I’ll savour.
“We should have had the league won weeks ago so that was a big disappointment. But these lads were determined to make sure that disappointment wasn’t going to affect them, and that showed in the play-offs.
“People questioned their character, but we knew they had it in them. The players are due a huge amount of credit because of the disappointment they’ve had. They should savour this.”
Milne ran clear to slot in the opener after five minutes and the tie was effectively over 12 minutes later when Cox stabbed in from close range. Danny Denholm curled in the third eight minutes after the break before substitutes Aiden Malone and Josh Peters netted either side of a consolation by Peterhead’s Scott Brown.
The Balmoor side, who a year ago were involved in the play-offs to try to win promotion to the Championship, slip back into the fourth tier after three seasons in League One. Crestfallen manager Jim McInally offered his resignation but is eager to stay on if the board want him to remain. “It’s a horrific way to end a horrific season, and I carry the can for that,” he said. “I’m ashamed, and I apologise to the supporters and the directors because that’s no way to lose a
play-off game. If the directors want me to go, I’ll go. But I don’t want to leave it like this.
“I want to fight back. I know I’m responsible for it but this has been my first really bad season here so hopefully I can put it right. I’ll certainly offer to go, then it’s up to them.”