Jul 20 2012 By David Ogilvie
STIRLING Albion’s pre-season build up continues this weekend with a double header of games against Highland League sides Strathspey Thistle and Brora Rangers.
It is the club’s first mini-tour since the summer of 2003/04, when Allan Moore’s team took on Buckie Thistle and Keith, and you have to go back to 1991 for the one before that, when John Brogan was at the helm for matches against Altrincham and Witton Albion down south.
McDonald scored in a full-scale midweek practice match involving the majority of the squad but his team were beaten by a Bradley Coyne hat-trick and a Scott Davidson strike.
After closed-door friendlies against Falkirk, Livingston and Airdrie United, Albion drew 2-2 in their first public outing against Stenhousemuir last weekend and will use the games against Strathspey and Brora to continue their preparations for the Ramsdens Cup tie at Falkirk a week tomorrow.
McDonald said: "We’ll mix it up in terms of the squad over the two days so that everyone gets a decent amount of minutes on the park. It’s about fitness and getting comfortable with our style of play at this stage – results are very much secondary.
"We made a bit of a slow start against Stenhousemuir last week but I thought we played some good stuff in the second half and maybe only the number of changes we made allowed them back into it.
"We were even better in the game against Airdrie a couple of days earlier so I’m encouraged by what I have seen so far. I’ve got a lot to think about in terms of team selection for the first competitive match against Falkirk – there are still opportunities for players to stake a claim."
McDonald has a 23-man squad at his disposal for the 2012/13 campaign but that figure will rise to 24 if goalkeeper Mark Peat joins up. The former Aberdeen, Arbroath and Berwick number one has impressed in the games so far and would provide competition for Sam Filler.
Former Stirling defender Martyn Corrigan was this week named as the new manager of Stenhousemuir following the departure of Davie Irons.
The Warriors have snapped up ex-Albion keeper Callum Reidford while Kevin Kelbie and Darren Smith, who also left Forthbank at the end of last season, have been training at Ochilview. Devon Jacobs, the former Livingston full-back who also parted company with the Binos in May, is still searching for a new club.
Kick-off against Strathspey Thistle tonight (Friday) is 7.45pm and prices are £7 for adults and £3 concessions. It is the usual 3pm start tomorrow (Saturday) for the Brora fixture. Prices for that one are £7 for adults and £4 concessions.
Stirling Albion should find out their League Cup first- round opponents today (Friday). The Scottish Football League had delayed the draw due to the uncertainty over Rangers. Ties are due to be played on Saturday, August 4.
The Binos will be unseeded in the draw, as will Rangers, and could therefore face a tough game against the likes of Dunfermline, Partick Thistle or Morton or, at best, a team who finished in the higher reaches of the Second Division last season.
Stirling crashed 5-0 to Airdrie United in the first round of the competition last year and were beaten by Forfar the previous season.