Annan Athletic 2 Stenhousemuir 0: It's Annan Athletic who hold the upper hand after the first leg of their Scottish League One promotion play-off semi-final against Stenhousemuir, leading 2-0.

First-half goals by Chris Johnston and Ayrton Sonkur put the hosts in control.

The home team started on the front foot, with Tony Wallace testing away keeper Graeme Smith with two minutes played.

Four minutes later, a Johnston free-kick fell kindly for Steve Swinglehurst, but the former Carlisle United centre-back couldn’t make a proper connection as Smith gathered.

But Peter Murphy’s men did take a deserved lead on eight minutes when Johnston rifled home after good work by Aidan Smith.

On the 14th minute, a Lewis Strapp long throw caused problems, only for Stenhousemuir goalkeeper Smith to deny namesake Aidan.

Next up in the Athletic onslaught, Owen Moxon appeared to be brought down in the box, though, referee Steven Reid turned down the penalty appeals from the home contingent.

There then was opportunities at both end midway through the first half. Swinglehurst, crucially, intervened when Mark McGuigan threatened to latch on to a loose ball, before Johnston was thwarted by Smith at the other end, seconds later.

Against the run of play, the ball crept inches wide of Annan keeper Alex Mitchell’s left-hand post off the boot of Wallace from Alan Cook’s corner on the 34th minute as the home fans breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Athletic doubled their advantage on 39 minutes with Sonkur, the man whose header secured Annan’s play-off berth, on hand to nod his effort from Johnston’s corner over the line. That was despite the efforts of McGuigan to hook the ball clear.

At the other end, Kieran Gibbons fired narrowly wide from long range, two minutes before the break.

Murphy’s men had to withstand some early Stenhousemuir pressure, the away team managed by ex-Annan, Gretna and Celtic Nation man Colin McMenamin, swiftly after the restart but did so well.

Ahead of Saturday’s second leg, Stenhousemuir had a chance to get back in the tie just before the hour mark when Andy Munro powered over a Cook corner.

Everything looked to be going Annan’s way and, on the hour mark last night at Galabank, Mitchell made a fine point-blank save to deny David Marsh.

Athletic went close once more on the 65th minute. Swinglehurst powered a Johnston delivery wide of Smith’s left-hand post.

Home defensive duo Sonkur and Swinglehurst combined after another Johnston corner with 72 minutes played, with the latter’s looping header landing on the roof of the net.

As the first leg reached the latter stages, opportunities began to dry up somewhat at both ends.

But Swinglehurst was getting on the end of most the home side’s set-pieces and, on 81 minutes, he saw another header cleared off the line by Gibbons who was in the right place at the right time.

Two minutes later, Stenhousemuir’s Munro tried his luck from distance and his strike only went just wide.

Smith had an opportunity to make it 3-0 in the final seconds of normal time, only for namesake Smith in the away goal to close down the angle and make the save.

Annan Athletic: Mitchell, Hooper, Strapp, Wilson, Sonkur, Swinglehurst, Wallace, Moxon, Smith, Nade (Muir 66), Johnston. Subs not used: McAdams, Watson, Creaney, Brannan, Bradley, Fergusson.

Stenhousemuir: Smith, Reid, Donaldson, Neill, Marsh, Gibbons, McGuigan, Cook (Duthie 67), Dickson, Munro, Dingwell. Subs not used: McMinn, Ferry, Breadner, Halleran, Watters.

Ref: Steven Reid.

Crowd: 637.