Feb 3 2012 by David Ogilvie, Stirling Observer Friday
Arbroath 2 Stirling Observer 0
TITLE-CHASING Arbroath proved too strong for the Binos on Wednesday night.
First-half goals from Steven Doris and player-manager Paul Sheerin saw the hosts move to within two points of leaders Cowdenbeath and leave Albion at the foot of the Second Division table.
Stirling now face a massive game at home to fellow strugglers Forfar tomorrow (Saturday) but they will take some encouragement from their performance, if not the result, in this rearranged fixture that was abandoned after 18 minutes on Boxing Day due to high winds.
Greig McDonald’s men would have moved into eighth place had they inflicted Arbroath’s first home defeat of the season and the Binos more than matched their hosts in the first half but were undone by a couple of mistakes and it was always going to be an uphill struggle after that.
The Albion boss rang the changes in the wake of the 4-1 defeat at Airdrie, with Josh Flood, Lewis Bonar, Craig McLeish and Scott Davidson dropping to the bench while skipper Brian Allison was suspended after being sent off at the Excelsior Stadium.
There were starts for Shaun Fagan, Shaun Dillon, Graham Weir, Alan Cook and Darren Smith as Stirling lined up in a 4-5-1 formation with Weir the lone striker and Cook and Smith supporting on the flanks.
Former Raith and Brechin striker Weir caught the eye with an industrious performance and was unlucky not to score early in the second half, when he latched on to a perfect pass from Mark Ferry and curled a shot inches wide from the edge of the box.
Ferry impressed in the centre of midfield, rarely wasting the ball, and Stirling generally restricted an Arbroath team who thrashed Albion Rovers 6-1 in their previous outing at Gayfield.
New Arbroath signing Collin Samuel, formerly of Falkirk and St Johnstone, had a quiet evening but the hosts were gifted the opening goal in only nine minutes when Gary Thom, sent off here in a 4-2 defeat in August, was short with a pass-back and Doris nipped in and rounded keeper Callum Reidford to slot the ball into the net.
Stirling were enjoying plenty of the ball and, although Reidford made a key save from Gavin Swankie, it was harsh on the visitors when Arbroath doubled their lead in first-half stoppage time.
Swankie broke clear down the left and picked out Sheerin, who took his time and calmly beat Reidford with a low shot. The 37-year-old was a massive influence on this match, dropping deep to collect the ball and dictating much of Arbroath’s play.
The ex-Inverness CT and St Johnstone schemer should have scored again after the break but blazed over from close range and fired wide late on, while Reidford did well to keep out a Stuart Malcolm header from a corner.
Stirling never gave up but found clear-cut chances hard to come by against a strong defence on a night when 901 punters braved the cold to take advantage of the free admission. Most of them went home happy, with their side still very much in contention for a second successive title.
Albion fans will simply be happy to see their team avoid the drop for the second year in a row and there were certainly signs of hope as they prepare for a frantic February that sees games against Forfar and Dumbarton as well as double headers with Cowdenbeath and Brechin City.
ARBROATH: Hill, Busch (Sibanda 43), McAnespie, Kerr, Malcolm (Brown 84), Wedderburn, Falkingham,
Samuel (Gibson 67), Doris, Swankie, Sheerin. Subs not used: Caddis, Burns.
STIRLING ALBION: Reidford, Fagan (Bonar 82), Jacobs, McSorley (Davidson 71), Thom, Dillon, Smith (Flood 80), McCulloch, Ferry, Weir, Cook. Subs not used: McLeish, Filler.
Referee: Craig Charleston