Peterhead 1 - 0 Stenhousemuir: Stenny promoted despite loss

Stenhousemuir manager Brown Ferguson felt his team's promotion to League 1 was reward for the hard work at the club.

Stenhousemuir celebrate promotion to Ladbrokes League 1. Picture: SNS/Bill Murray

The Warriors withstood a Peterhead fightback, losing the play-off final second leg 1-0, but won 2-1 on aggregate and seal a swift return to Scotland’s third tier.

Ferguson said: “This is something that the club does not achieve that often. Somebody told me before the match that we have won two promotions in our history outright.

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“It is a hard, hard feat and it is a big ask especially when you have the likes of Peterhead in the league and Montrose so to go back up at the first time of asking is great.

“But to do it on top of all the work that is going on behind the scenes, from the board to the volunteers, is really pleasing because the club had a sticky spell two or three years ago.”

Mark McGuigan wasted a glorious third minute chance to put Stenhousemuir firmly in control of the tie when he raced clean through on goal with just Greg Fleming to beat, but he blazed widly off target.

Peterhead did well to get through the first period unscathed but they dominated after the break and were right back in the tie when Russell McLean headed home in the 54th minute. The towering striker, operating as a defender due to an injury crisis, nodded in Willie Gibson’s corner to give the Blue Toon hope.

Fleming did well to parry an Eddie Ferns effort in the 58th minute and then Mark McGuigan was cautioned for simulation when he appeared to be tripped in the box by David McCracken as Stenhousemmuir tried to recover from the setback. McCracken was not so fortunate in the 66th minute, the Peterhead skipper receiving a second yellow card for deliberate handball.

Despite being a man down, the hosts piled numbers forward in the closing stages and substitute Aaron Norris went close with a fizzing shot, which flew narrowly wide, before Scott Brown drove straight at Chris Smith.

Peterhead were then reduced to nine men in stoppage time when Jack Leitch picked up a second yellow card for an off the ball incident and Stenny clung on to secure their return to Scotland’s third tier.

Peterhead manager Jim McInally, whose team suffered play-off agony for the third straight season, said: “I am just proud of the players’ efforts when you consider what happened on Wednesday night and what we were left with defensively.

“We have come away with a clean sheet here, which is pretty unbelievable, because we were so vulnerable in the first half. I knew in the second half we would have a real go at them but it was not to be.

“But I have just told the players that if there was ever going to be an unlucky team, it is us because we have won the last nine games out of 10 and we ended the season on 76 points.”