Football and Rugby
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BIG CHANGES AT GALABANK
ANNAN Athletic manager Harry Cairney has released many of his big wage earners at Galabank.
Five of his most experienced players have gone and more could follow.
Big changes are underway at the Galabank club which will be playing on a new 3G pitch next season.
Sean O’Connor, David Winters, Brian Gilfillan, Danny Mitchell and David Cox have not been offered new contracts.
And Aaron Muirhead has been in talks with Division One side Partick Thistle and is expected to sign a contract there.
Most of those released are thought to be the highest paid at Galabank and this year’s players’ budget has been reduced from last season.
Chairman Henry McClelland said that talks were going on with various players and there could well be more leaving the club and a number of others were likely to sign up again.
But Alex Mitchell, Jordan McKechnie, Chris Jardine, Steven Sloan, Peter Watson and Michael McGowan have all signed new contracts.
The chairman said: “We’ve got the playing budget approved for next season and the manager knows what he has available.
“The transfer window hasn’t opened yet but there will certainly be big changes in personnel.”
With strikers Sean O’Connor, David Winters and David Cox all out Annan looks like having a new strike force for the coming season.
Henry added: “Financially we are on a sound footing but the budget has had to be reduced because the amount of money coming from the SPL has been reduced.
“This means that we have to adjust things and you have to keep within a strict budget. We are in the lucky position that we don’t have a big overdraft like some clubs do.
“It’s a busy time here at the club although it’s the close season and work is scheduled to start on the new pitch from May 21.”
SIGNING talks are going on at Galabank after a disappointing end to the season as Annan missed out on a play-off spot.
But Annan chairman Henry McClelland is upbeat about the coming months with the installation of the new 3G pitch starting before the end of the month.
And the chairman says there will be big player changes with a number going out after Saturday’s final game against Alloa Athletic, the Division Three champions.
And it is likely that popular defender Aaron Muirhead could be on his way to Division One side Partick Thistle.
Although no one at Galabank would confirm it, a source close to the club said talks between the two clubs had been going on and it was expected that an announcement about Muirhead’s move to Thistle could be confirmed over the weekend.
He added that an offer from Thistle had been accepted by Annan but Mr McClelland could not confirm the move yesterday.
But he did say: “We have to notify the SFA by May 15 the players that we are signing or releasing.
“There will be changes in the playing squad with a number of players released and the manager will decide which ones he is keeping.
“I think there will be a good number of new faces at Galabank next season.
Annan will get a taste of the artificial surface once more when they play champions Alloa Athletic tomorrow in the final league match of the season.
The chairman said they were looking forward to the new pitch and they were hoping that full membership of the SPL would be confirmed at the end of the month.
Mr McClelland said: “The only thing we still have to do is to level the pitch and the work will have started on the new pitch when the meeting is held.
“We are exciting by this new pitch for it will mean that the next generation of players will have been brought up on artificial pitches. It will encourage the game to be played on the deck and that can only be good.”
He added: “It is certainly the way ahead and when our pitch is finished along with Forfar Athletic’s one, around 25 per cent of the clubs in the SFL will have synthetic pitches.”
Manager Harry Cairney is hoping to end the season by upsetting the champions, Alloa but said it would be a real test to come back from the disappointing result against Peterhead.
BAD DAY FOR QUEENS AND ANNAN
IT was a sad for Annan and Queen of the South fans as both teams crashed to defeat.
For Queens it was a dismal day as they dropped into the Second Division after a decade fighting it out in the top SFL league.
They went down 2-1 to Raith Rovers who came good at the end of the season and Ayr United got three points when beat Dundee.
For Annan it was another big disappointment as they missed out on the chance of a play-off position and what could have been a season playing in the same league as Queens.
They turned in a poor performance to lose 3-0 to Peterhead, a team they had beaten three times already this season.
NO JOY FOR GALABANK FANS
Annan Athletic 0 Peterhead 3
(HT – 0-1)
Peterhead – Deasley 21, MacDonald 49, McAllister 84
ANNAN’S dreams of a play-off place were shattered by a hard-working Peterhead side who ran out easy winners.
The home side started strongly and Steven Sloan shot over the bar in the fourth minute and a David Cox corner was scrambled clear after 15 minutes.
But gradually the visitors got into the game and Bryan Deasley put them ahead in the 21st minute although Annan should have levelled three minutes later when a Cox shot struck the cross bar.
Four minutes into the second half it was all over for the home side as Callum MacDonald drove the ball home from a Ryan Strachan corner to make it 2-0.
Cox had another chance for the home side on 67 minutes but the ball went over the bar.
Then Annan boss Harry Cairney tried a double substitute bringing on Bryan Gilfillan and David Winters but it didn’t bring the goals he wanted although Gilfillan brought a great save from the Peterhead keeper in the 79th minute.
Instead, it was Peterhead sub Rory McAllister who nicked a third for his side in 84 minutes when he was set up by Lewis Davidson.
Annan Athletic –A Mitchell, Gibson, Swinglehurst, McGowan, Steele, Watson, Sloan (O’Connor 53), Jardine (Gilfillan 71), McKechnie, Bell (Winters 71), Cox. Subs not used – Hyslop (kpr), D Mitchell.
Peterhead- Jellema, Ross, MacDonald, Smith, Donald, Strachan Davidson (72), McBain, Redman, Sharp (McAllister 75), Deasley, Davidge. Subs not used Duffy; Tully, Wyness.
Attd – 408
Referee - Mr Euan Anderson