Apr 27 2012 by Donald Morton, Stirling Observer Friday
STIRLING Albion go into their final home game of the season tomorrow (Saturday) with Dumbarton knowing they must win to keep alive their hopes of playing Second Division football next season.
Greig McDonald’s side trail Forfar by five points and are six adrift of Albion Rovers with two games to play, although the fact these two meet at Station Park means Stirling will take the issue to the final day if they can claim victory against the Sons.
The Binos were unlucky to go down to a controversial last-minute penalty in a 1-0 reverse to East Fife at New Bayview but failure to take any points, or indeed score, in their last two home games against Airdrie United and Cowdenbeath has also seriously damaged their hopes of avoiding the drop.
McDonald, who won his first two games as manager when he took over from Jocky Scott in January, still believes his players have what it takes to secure a dramatic late escape.
He said: “There were a few ifs and buts before the East Fife game but we know exactly what we have to do now - if we play like we did on Saturday then we are certainly capable of beating Dumbarton and Albion Rovers in our last two matches.
“Gordon Durie apologised afterwards that East Fife had won the game because we were the better team. We didn’t create as many clear-cut chances as I would have liked but we played some good stuff and I thought we restricted them at the other end.
“To lose in the manner we did was very hard to take. I’ve seen the penalty again and I still don’t think it was a foul by Gary Thom. He got to the ball ahead of Bobby Linn and it was a fair tackle but there is nothing we can do about it now.
“The players are still upbeat and they know the consequences of not winning, so we will go out and be positive and try to win the game. If we do our job then can worry afterwards about what happens between Forfar and Albion Rovers and where that leaves things for the final day.”
The worst case scenario for Stirling would be a draw at Station Park as it would take Rovers out of sight and would also mean Forfar’s superior goal difference could prove decisive, even if they then lose to play-off chasing Stenhousemuir at Ochilview on May 5.
Picking up all three points against Dumbarton will be a challenge in itself given that Alan Adamson’s men need to win one of their last two matches to be sure of a play-off place.
The Sons made a poor start to the season but strung together a terrific run of results at the turn of the year and have picked up again after a lean spell, beating Airdrie United 2-1 on Saturday.
Albion won 5-1 when the sides met in August but were beaten 1-0 at the Doubletree Dunblane Stadium at the end of October and crashed 4-1 away from home in February.
McDonald added: “Dumbarton have had a great run to get where they are after a slow start and they deserve a lot of credit for that. They still need points to make sure they are in the play-offs but we need to win and hope we have a cup final at Albion Rovers next weekend.”
Goalkeeper Callum Reidford remains an injury doubt after missing the 1-0 defeat at East Fife but will be assessed ahead of the match and will hope to return, although Sam Filler did well in his first starting appearance since November.
Young striker Andy Hunter is still out with a knee problem.
Stirling Albion have won just once in eight games since defeating Albion Rovers 3-0 at the beginning of March and that run, plus the resurgence of the Coatbridge side, means that if they slip up tomorrow against Dumbarton then, come August, the Doubletree Dunblane Stadium will be staging Third Division football.