Aug 1 2012 by David Ogilvie, Stirling Observer Wednesday
STIRLING Albion head for Arbroath on Saturday in the first round of the Scottish Communities League Cup, looking to end a dismal recent run in the competition.
The Binos have failed to win a tie since 2007, when their reward for defeating Brechin was a home game with Hearts, which the SPL club won 2-0.
Since then Stirling have fallen at the first hurdle against Arbroath, Ayr United, Forfar and Airdrie United.
Red cards for keeper Sam Filler and player-coach Shaun Fagan at New Broomfield 12 months ago mean they are ruled out of the weekend meeting at Gayfield.
Paul Sheerin’s team kicked off their season with an astonishing 7-5 triumph at Elgin – ex-Bino Darren Gribben bagged a hat-trick – and Albion took only one point from 12 in the four games against the Red Lichties in Division Two last season.
McDonald’s first match in charge of Albion was the gale-lashed, abandoned fixture at Gayfield on Boxing Day and he will he hoping it is calmer this time round as Stirling look to bounce back from a 3-0 defeat to Falkirk in the Ramsdens Cup on Saturday.
McDonald said: “Falkirk is a very tough place to come and I have a great deal of respect for the way they play football. Taking on a full-time First Division side was always going to be tough for our guys but for large periods of the game I thought we defended excellently and had a good shape.
“To be honest, when you look at the three goals in isolation they were all down to mistakes. We knew we would have to sacrifice possession but I watched Bolton play here on Wednesday night and they had to sacrifice possession as well so we had to be pragmatic about our approach.
“I have to give the players credit for the way they kept fighting until the very end and we had a few chances ourselves. We had one cleared off the line in the first couple of minutes and that would have made it a different game.
“We came to frustrate them and I felt it was starting to work. I thought we were good value for 0-0 in the first half and it just so happens that they scored the first goal after 40 minutes or so, when we were probably having our best spell.
“In the second half we didn’t retain the ball as well and that is something we need to work on. I don’t know if it was down to tiredness maybe and we did have half a dozen players missing but the young boys who came in did well and this was a good experience for them.
“I think the current squad is stronger than the one we had last year. There is no question in my mind that if you put this squad back in the Second Division they wouldn’t finish where we did.
“I’m 100 per cent confident of that.
“Kieran McAnespie will come back into contention for the Arbroath game. He had trained in the week leading up to the Falkirk match but we just felt it was a bit soon. David McClune will train this week but might not be ready for Saturday, while Ross McGeachie will be fine after a knock.”
Falkirk boss Steven Pressley was pleased to see his side make progress and their reward in Monday’s second-round draw was a home tie with Rangers in the two weeks’ time.
He said: “Stirling set their stall out early as to how they were going to play. They came to frustrate us and it was always going to take a patient performance. I thought our young players handled it really well but credit to Stirling because they had a good attitude and made life difficult.”
Arbroath finished second in Division Two in 2011/12 but were surprisingly beaten by Dumbarton in the play-off semi-finals. Albion’s record against the Angus club in recent years is not great, with just five wins in the last 27 encounters going back to 1999.
Albion fans can buy season tickets tomorrow (Thursday) and again this weekend. The club office will be open from 4-7pm on Thursday and from 9am-noon on Saturday. Season tickets cost £150 (£100 senior citizens and students, £30 children).
Summer signing Kieran McAnespie will miss the opening league game at home to Annan Athletic on August 11 due to a one-match ban carried over from the end of last season.