Aug 10 2012 by David Ogilvie, Stirling Observer Friday
STIRLING Albion aim to begin the process of putting two disappointing seasons behind them when they face Annan Athletic in their opening Third Division game at Forthbank tomorrow (Saturday).
Albion have never previously met the Galabankies, who reached the play-off final in 2010/11 and led the table for a spell last season before finishing in sixth spot.
Harry Cairney’s team shocked Livingston in the Ramsdens Cup a fortnight ago to set up a midweek clash with Stenhousemuir but went down 2-0 to Hamilton in the League Cup. Albion are already out of both competitions.
Greig McDonald’s men lost 3-0 to Falkirk but were unfortunate to exit 3-2 on penalties to Arbroath at Gayfield after a good performance in the 1-1 draw with Second Division opponents.
Tomorrow’s game is a key early test for the Binos as Annan are likely to be play-off contenders in the season ahead. Stirling then go to an Elgin team who finished fourth last term before a home double header against Clyde and Queen’s Park.
Full-back Kieran McAnespie will miss out against Annan, due to a one-match ban picked up at the end of last season with his previous club Arbroath, and player-assistant boss Shaun Fagan is still a few weeks away from a comeback as he recovers from a pelvic problem.
Other than that, McDonald reported a fit squad after training on Tuesday night.
Stirling beat East Fife 1-0 on day one last season, although that – and the 5-1 thumping of Dumbarton the following week – proved to be something of a false down.
Everyone connected with the club is desperate for more to cheer about in 2012/13 and Albion are hoping their pricing policy will attract a few new fans to Forthbank.
A spokesman said: “We have reduced adult prices to £10, which we believe offers good value for money, and we hope to build on the loyal supporter base we have. Senior citizens aged 65 and over pay £7 and it’s just £5 for children under 17.
“Season ticket sales have surpassed last year’s total and we would like to thank everyone who has backed the club in this way. Seasons are £150 for adults, £100 for seniors and students and just £30 for children U17 and are the best way to guarantee a ticket for the Rangers games.
“They will be on sale from 1.30pm before the Annan match and it would be great to see a big crowd backing Greig and the players in our first home game of 2012/13. The last two seasons have been disappointing but we are committed to driving the club forward both on and off the pitch.”
Striker Andy Hunter and defender Richie Kirwan have joined Dunipace Juniors on loan for the next three months.
Binos boss Greig McDonald said: “Andy has missed most of pre-season as he recovered from his knee injury and going to Dunipace will allow him to get valuable game time and continue his comeback to full fitness. He has a great attitude and I’m sure he’ll do well.
“Richie has come on leaps and bounds in the last year. However, he is unfortunate he’s competing against some experienced guys in the centre-half position. In order to ensure he’s ready to play when his chance comes we felt it would be best for him to return to Dunipace in the short term.
“Both lads can be recalled at any point and will continue to train with the first-team squad at Forthbank as normal.”
Stirling Albion have been drawn away to Edinburgh City in the second round of the SFA Youth Cup on Sunday, September 22. The young Binos received a bye in round one.