Feb 24 2012 by Donald Morton, Stirling Observer Friday
Albion celebrate against league leaders Cowdenbeath
ALBION claimed an unlikely but deserved draw against the league leaders on Tuesday night to boost their hopes of avoiding relegation.
Greig McDonald’s men are still badly in need of a win but they produced a terrific response to Saturday’s agonising 3-2 home defeat by Brechin.
Cowdenbeath arrived at a wet and windy Doubletree Dunblane Stadium four points clear at the top of the table and having suffered just three defeats all season but Stirling had the chances to inflict a fourth loss on Colin Cameron’s team, who were not at their best.
Albion were determined to avoid a repeat of the 4-1 thrashing they suffered against the Blue Brazil at Central Park earlier this month and were rewarded with a well-merited point, a result that ended a run of six straight defeats to the men from Fife.
McDonald made two changes to the team beaten by Brechin. Shaun Fagan returned in place of the injured Shaun Dillon and Craig McLeish got the nod ahead of Darren Smith, although the former Motherwell player made a big impact when he came off the bench in the second half.
Stirling’s strikers have struggled for goals of late and it was left to Gary Thom to bag the opener just before the half-hour mark. John Crawley’s deep delivery from a free-kick wide on the right was met by Kevin Kelbie and, although his header was cleared off the line, Thom followed up to nod the rebound into the net. It was his third goal of 2012 and makes him Albion’s top scorer since the turn of the year.
Chances were few in a first half that Stirling shaded. Mark Ferry was not far away with a spectacular overhead kick while Gary Fisher thumped a 30-yarder just wide at the other end and defender John Armstrong also came close for the visitors.
Albion twice lost the lead against Brechin at the weekend and they were again pegged back as Cowdenbeath were rewarded for a strong start to the second half. Skipper Jon Robertson, who has agreed a deal to join St Mirren in the summer, headed over when well placed.
The Blue Brazil were enjoying their best spell of the game and conjured up an equaliser when Stirling were caught on the break and ex-Bino Derek Lyle brilliantly picked out Lewis Coult, who took a touch before guiding the ball past Callum Reidford for his 11th league goal of the season.
Robertson then fired over when he should have done better. It looked as if Cowdenbeath had a grip on the game but Stirling came through that sticky spell and played some excellent stuff.
Scott Davidson released Smith, whose driven shot was smuggled round the post by former Hibs keeper Thomas Flynn, then Davidson looked to have picked out Graham Weir but the ball ran away from the former Raith hitman when a goal seemed certain.
In an entertaining encounter, that was never as combative as the seven yellow cards dished out by David Somers might suggest, Stirling almost grabbed a famous win in the closing minutes when substitute Alan Cook swung over a brilliant cross from the left. It was met first time by Weir but his effort drifted narrowly wide.
There was a late scare at the other end when sub Liam Cusack failed to hit the target from close range when the ball broke to him following a corner but a point was the least Albion deserved.
STIRLING ALBION: Reidford, Fagan, Crawley, McSorley, Allison, Thom, Davidson, Ferry, Weir, Kelbie (Smith 61), McLeish (Cook 86). Subs not used: Jacobs, Macpherson, Filler.
COWDENBEATH: Flynn, Brett, Adamson, Fisher, Armstrong, Mbu, McKenzie, Robertson, Ramsay (Stewart 57), Coult, Lyle (Cusack 82). Subs not used: Winter, Milne, Bejaoui.
Referee: David Somers