The second half of the League 1 season gets under way this weekend and our first fixture of 2015 sees Stirling Albion make the short trip to Ochilview to play Stenhousemuir. We are bidding to cut the eight-point gap on second-bottom Ayr United while the Warriors are aiming to close in on Airdrie and Peterhead, who are just above them in the table.
Team news: Goalkeeper Callum Reidford is suspended after being sent off in the last minute of our 4-3 defeat to Morton so Greg Paterson is set for his first appearance since our 5-4 win at Ochilview on August 23. Midfielder Darren Lee Smith remains out with a knee injury and Graham Weir is rated doubtful because of a groin strain.
Opponents: Stenhousemuir are eighth in the table but are 11 points ahead of us after 18 games. Their home record is three wins, two draws and four defeats. Scott Booth’s men go into the match on a high after a 2-0 win over leaders Stranraer at Stair Park – that was the Blues’ first league loss since August. Stenny’s most recent fixture at Ochilview ended in a 2-0 defeat to Brechin City but the first-half dismissal of Ross McMillan had a big bearing on the outcome.
Past meetings: Our only League 1 victory so far came in a remarkable match at Ochilview in August. We trailed 2-1 at the break – Craig Wedderburn scoring our goal – but a second-half double from Gordon Smith, as well as goals from Sandy Cunningham and Darren Lee Smith, turned the tide. The Warriors gained revenge with a 4-0 win at Forthbank on October 18 in what turned out to be Greig McDonald’s last game in charge. We suffered two 4-0 defeats on the plastic pitch in 2011/12 but won both Ochilview encounters en route to the Division Two title in 2009/10.
Recent New Year games: We began 2014 with a last-gasp 2-1 home win over East Stirlingshire and kicked off 2013 with a 1-1 draw against the Shire at Ochilview. On January 2, 2012 we beat Stenhousemuir 3-1 at Forthbank while 12 months earlier an injury and illness-hit side lost 4-2 at Falkirk.
Last five league form: Stenhousemuir LLWLW Stirling Albion LLLDL
Referee: Gavin Duncan
Admission: £12 adults and £7 concessions (seniors/students) for the terracing. £13 and £8 for the stand. U16s FREE.
Weather: Looking like a cold but dry day.
Twitter: Updates will be available @Stirling_Albion
Our next game: Stirling Albion v Dunfermline – Saturday January 10, 2015
Other League 1 games: Ayr United v Stranraer, Dunfermline Athletic v Peterhead, Forfar Athletic v Brechin City, Morton v Airdrieonians