Mar 7 2012 by Donald Morton, Stirling Observer Wednesday
STIRLING play local rivals Stenhousemuir on Saturday as the final quarter of the Division Two campaign begins.
Greig McDonald’s men went into their rearranged home game with Forfar last night (Tuesday) on a high after back-to-back wins over Brechin and Albion Rovers.
A double from Alan Cook and Kevin Kelbie’s first goal earned Stirling a crucial 3-0 win over Rovers on Saturday but a tough test lies in wait at Ochilview, where they crashed 4-0 in November.
Davie Irons’ Stenhousemuir side were title contenders at one stage but a poor run – including a 3-1 defeat at the Doubletree Dunblane Stadium in January – has seen them slip to fourth place and their target now is to ensure they do not slip out of the play-off places.
The Warriors got back on track with a 2-1 win at Forfar at the weekend and have added striker Kenny Deuchar to their ranks in a loan move from Livingston.
But McDonald believes Saturday’s emphatic win over Albion Rovers shows Stirling are heading in the right direction as they fight for their Second Division survival.
He said: “It was a good day all round and I was delighted for everyone at the club. The boys stuck to the task and won their individual battles and did everything we asked. We had a good three points at Brechin before this so we just want to keep the run going.
“We managed to give Stephen Day from the U19 team his debut and I thought he was excellent when he came on. We had a few injuries and it was the ideal time to give him a chance. The youth team are doing really well this season and that’s important as these guys are the future.”
Former Morton striker Kelbie claimed his first goal for the club and McDonald said: “I never doubted him. The big guy just needed a few games. He’s not played a lot of football since he had an ankle injury when he was over in Ireland but he was unbelievable in training on Thursday night and I thought he was outstanding against Albion Rovers.
“Kevin’s also claiming that he got a touch to the first goal but Alan Cook says that if Jeff Stelling on Sky Sports gave it to him then he’s not giving it up.
“I thought Alan was different class. He worked his socks off and it was great that he was also rewarded with the third goal in the game.”
McDonald was delighted with a first clean sheet since Albion Rovers were beaten 1-0 in mid-January and praised defender Gary Thom, who has also contributed four goals in 2012.
He said: “Gary has come on leaps and bounds. He’s just a young guy but he’s aggressive and he’s also very good on the ball. Defensively, as a team we were excellent. Albion Rovers upped the tempo after the break but we still won the second half and that was the challenge we had set the players at half-time.
“We’ve had a lot of games recently but I don’t see that as a problem. When I took over I said it was a squad game and you can see that now,” added McDonald, who will have striker Scott Davidson available on Saturday after a three-match ban but Shaun Dillon is struggling with an ankle injury.
January signing Kelbie, who trained with Stenhousemuir prior to joining the Binos from Glenavon in Northern Ireland, said: “It’s a big boost to be off the bottom of the table and it was a great performance.
“I think the lads are confident we can get away from the bottom of the table and create a bit of a gap
“It was nice to get my first goal. The ironic thing is I was meant to be knocking the balls down for Graham Weir but it was the opposite way round.
“I had an injury at my old club which meant I hadn’t played since November so it was a case of trying to get match fit and I feel a lot sharper now.”