Feb 29 2012 by Donald Morton, Stirling Observer Wednesday
STIRLING Albion’s season reaches a crucial stage over the course of the next week as they prepare to host fellow strugglers Albion Rovers and Forfar at the Doubletree Dunblane Stadium.
Greig McDonald’s side crashed 4-1 at Dumbarton on Saturday and went into their rearranged fixture away to play-off chasing Brechin last night (Tuesday) three points adrift at the foot of the table.
Albion have picked up just two points out of a possible 24 since beating Albion Rovers 1-0 at Cliftonhill in mid-January – from draws with Forfar and Cowdenbeath – but the Coatbridge men and Dick Campbell’s Forfar are also on poor runs and drew 2-2 at the weekend.
Rovers are in town on Saturday before Forfar visit next Tuesday, kick-off 7.45pm, and positive results in both games would give the Binos a massive boost in their battle to avoid the drop. Anything less will increase the threat of a second successive relegation.
Stirling go into both games without top scorer Scott Davidson, who picked up a two-match ban – in addition to the suspension he was due to serve for reaching the disciplinary threshold of six yellow cards – after being sent off in the weekend defeat at Dumbarton.
Albion took an early lead against the in-form Sons when Davidson scored his seventh goal of 2011/12 after four minutes but on-loan Falkirk teenager Ally Graham equalised and Davidson was dismissed by referee Brian Winter for what he deemed a dangerous tackle on full-back James Creaney. Scott Agnew’s strike and a Mark Gilhaney doubled sealed an emphatic home win.
Binos boss McDonald was angry at the decision but the club have decided not to appeal and risk losing the £500 fee payable to the Scottish FA if they were unsuccessful.
He said: “Credit to Dumbarton, who picked us off after the sending off, but Dumbarton didn’t beat us, the decision did. We lost a bad goal just after half-time, but we lost a bad goal against Cowdenbeath on Tuesday, and we still had enough about us to get a 1-1 draw.
“I asked the referee when he came off the pitch if it was two-footed but he said it was more the speed of the challenge and he said he thought his foot was a little bit high. From my point of view, it was a 50/50 and sometimes in those types of challenges, boys get hurt – that’s football.
“We expected Dumbarton to come back into the game after a good first half, and they did exactly that. The guys are hurting because we were in a game and we knew we had enough to beat Dumbarton .”
Stirling welcome back skipper Brian Allison from suspension on Saturday as they bid to claim a key win over a Rovers side who have taken only two points from their last nine outings and have lost 10 of 13 away matches.
The Binos were 2-0 up when the teams met at the Doubletree Dunblane Stadium in August but the visitors hit back for a deserved 2-2 draw. Stirling drew 2-2 at Forfar last month but lost 4-2 at home to the Loons and can ill afford another slip-up against a team who reached the play-offs last season when they face the Angus club on home soil next midweek.
THERE are still a few tickets left for Stirling Albion’s fundraising dinner at the Doubletree Dunblane Hydro on Friday night, priced £60. Speakers for the Annfield Revisited event are Chick Young and Ron Yeats, with top football impersonator Paul Reid also on the bill.
Auction prizes can be viewed on the club website and include VIP tickets for T in the Park this summer, a tennis racket signed by Andy Murray and signed jerseys from Celtic and Rangers. For more information, contact the club on 01786 450399.
STIRLING Albion striker Lewis Bonar is heading for a new life in Australia after the club agreed to cancel his registration to allow him to join Brisbane-based Peninsula Power.
The 20-year-old penned a two-year deal after joining the Binos from Falkirk during the summer and scored a double on his debut in a Challenge Cup win at Deveronvale but was in and out of the team as the season wore on.
THE Stirling Albion Lotto rolls over yet again after Wednesday’s numbers failed to come up with a winner.
The numbers drawn were 25, 33, 37, 38 and the jackpot now rises to £6250.
The lottery costs £1 per line and tickets are available from various outlets, as well as at the office at Doubletree Dunblane Stadium. Standing order forms can also be collected or requested from the club on 01786 450399.