Saturday 1 July 2017, 15.00, Forthbank Stadium
Stirling Albion against Motherwell as pre-season continues.
It’s been a number of years since we were at Forthbank and we last saw Stirling Albion in 2015.
Stirling Albion emerged in 1945, following the Second World War and they set up home at Annfield. In just their second season, they won the Division C title and in season 1948-49 they were promoted to Division A as runners-up to take a seat at the top table. This began a lengthy spell of promotions and relegations with demotions in 1950, 1952, 1956 (they would have gone down in 1955 but for reconstruction), 1960, 1962 and promotions in 1951, 1953, 1958, 1961, 1965.
After their promotion in 1965, Albion stayed in the top flight until relegation in 1967-68. The last time they were in the top league.
Further league reconstruction in 1975 saw Stirling in the new third tier. They win the new Division Two title in 1976-77 and stay there until season 1980-81, where they go a period of 14 games in a row without scoring, which contributes to relegation.
They gain national attention in season 1984-85 when they win 20-0 against Selkirk in the Scottish Cup and further fame is brought to the club when they become the first team in Scotland to have an artificial pitch in 1987. One of the agreements to the granting of the new surface was that opponents could decide not to play on it in the Scottish Cup. For the next five years, they played every cup match away from home.
They finally get out of the third tier again in 1990-91, winning Division Two. They moved from their Annfield home at the end of season 1991-92 and began the following season sharing with Stenhousemuir, before moving into their new Forthbank home in April 1993.
Yet more reconstruction sees Albion back in the third tier of Scottish Football in 1994. A 27-game unbeaten run sees them win the league in 1995-96, but they go down again in 1997-98. Further relegation saw them drop into the fourth tier in the first full season of the new millennium.
After the terrible start to the new century, promotions in 2003-04 and 2006-07 sees the club up to the First Division, but it was a one season stay as they finished bottom.
The ups and downs continued as the Second Division title is secured in 2009-10 and the club is taken over by a Supporters’ Trust in 2010-11, but they were also relegated that season and the one after.
Season 2013-14 saw promotion through the play-offs for the first time, but they finished bottom of the First Division the next season.
The last two seasons have seen them finish seventh and sixth in Division 2. Current manager Dave Mackay was appointed in November 2016 with Frazer Wright recently becoming his assistant.
Albion signed striker Peter MacDonald from Clyde and Peterhead left back Steven Noble for the new season. Ross Smith and Andy Little were missing through injury.
We last saw Motherwell in April, when they played out a goalless draw against near neighbours Hamilton Accies in a Premier League fixture. Well finished in ninth place after flirting with relegation for much of the season and will be hopeful of improvement this term.
Manager Stephen Robinson has appointed Keith Lasley as Assistant Manager after his retirement from playing duties and seven new signings have been made.
Departing Motherwell after the season’s end were Craig Samson, Joe Chalmers, Lee Lucas, Scott McDonald, David Ferguson, Craig Moore, Stephen Pearson and Zak Jules whose loan ended.
Coming in were Andy Rose and Gael Bigirimana from Coventry City, Craig Tanner from Reading, Russell Griffiths from Everton, Alex Fisher from Inverness, Trevor Carson from Hartlepool United and Charles Dunne from Oldham.
Kudos to Stirling Albion for the admission price of £5.
There were 1,044 in attendance including 592 Motherwell fans. The attendance was boosted by around 50 foreign students, who seemed to have come as part of a University of Stirling group.
The Motherwell fans seemed to be a bit cramped for space in the East Stand, which was odd given that only half of it had been opened.
Robertson started well for Albion, showing good footwork on a number of occasions as the teams looked to settle.
A neat through ball by Tanner looked for Frear in 9 minutes, but Binnie was quickly out of the Stirling goal to smother.
In 14 minutes, Rose played the ball right for Tait who put in a magnificent cross from the Albion by-line, but Frear’s looping header was off target.
A long ball forward by Albion in 16 minutes dropped behind McManus and Kipré for Kavanagh, but McManus recovered to turn the ball behind. The resultant corner was very deep and Smith took it back to the corner of the box where he won a free kick from MacLean. Dickson curled it over the bar.
Some slack play by McManus in 23 minutes gave the ball to Smith for Albion who held it up rather than going for goal and he squared it to MacDonald on the edge of the box, but he fired over the bar.
Kavanagh was tenacious in winning the ball for Albion at half way in 25 minutes and he passed to Caddis. He found Smith on the left and he knocked the ball across goal, but it was cleared.
Smith broke forward for Albion in 29 minutes and he drew four defenders towards him before feeding MacDonald, but he screwed his shot wide.
In 32 minutes, Kavanagh won the ball from Tait just inside his own half and burst into the Well side of the pitch. Tait chased him all the way back to the box, but he couldn’t stop Kavanagh’s ball across goal. Only MacDonald was there for Albion though and he was well behind the ball.
MacLean passed forward to Tuton on the edge of the Albion box in 35 minutes and he showed good skill to take it past Noble before firing an unstoppable shot into the top corner to give Well the lead.
An Albion corner in 37 minutes saw Griffiths come out and miss his punch, but the ball ricocheted straight back to him.
A minute later and Albion were on the attack again, Kavanagh playing the ball inside from the left to MacDonald, who pushed it through to Smith in the box, but he shot straight at Griffiths.
Rose had a go at the Albion goal in 40 minutes from around 22 yards, but it was too high.
A couple of Motherwell fans suddenly appeared behind one of the goals in the small terraced area and began singing songs. They were quickly moved away by the stewards.
A period of patient passing by Well just before the break ended with McManus curling at goal from almost 25 yards. Binnie touched it over the bar.
1-0 to Well at the interval and Albion could feel a bit unlucky to be behind.
Motherwell changed all ten outfield players at half time.
Little happened in the opening minutes of the second half before a Well corner in 58 minutes was taken by Cadden and Dembélé’s downward header was well blocked by Binnie.
Well broke in 60 minutes and Gordon found Cadden on the right. His low ball to the back post picked out Bowman who finished into the bottom corner to make it two.
Albion charged forward following a Well corner in 63 minutes and Smith passed wide to Kavanagh. His cross into the box was dangerous, but deflected into the arms of Griffiths.
A long ball into the Albion box by Heneghan in 67 minutes was beautifully taken down by Bowman and he opened his body to sidefoot the ball at goal, but it went just wide.
Thomas got to the by-line in 75 minutes and his chipped cross into the box was headed behind by an Albion defender. The corner saw Dembélé win a header behind Binnie, but it hit the side netting.
Well’s Thomas crossed into the box in 79 minutes and it was cleared to the edge of the area. Cadden ran onto the ball, but shot over.
A Well free kick 20 yards out in 84 minutes was touched by Thomas to Clay, but he lashed over the bar.
A quick free kick in the last minute by Albion saw Smith running through on goal, but Dembélé was there in a flash to ease him off the ball and let it run back to Griffiths.
A good first half showing by the hosts, but they weren’t really in it after that. Well probably had a stronger side out in the second half and Albion took off the players who had been doing well.
Some good performances by Albion’s Caddis, Robertson, Dickson and Kavanagh. MacDonald didn’t have his shooting boots on but held the ball up well. For Well, Tait and Tanner did well in the first half and Cadden, Dembélé and Thomas impressed in the second.
A useful work out for both sides. I expect Well will be hoping to tie up Dembélé after his second half showing.
Full Time: Stirling Albion 0 Motherwell 2
Stirling Albion: 1 Cameron Binnie, 2 Ross McGeachie (Banner 61), 3 Steven Noble Black 68), 4 Lee Hamilton (T), 5 Scott Davidson, 6 Liam Caddis (McCue 61), 7 Willie Robertson (McLair 61), 8 Sean Dickson (McMullan 61), 9 Peter MacDonald (B Henderson 68), 10 Darren Smith 11 Ross Kavanagh (J Henderson 68). Subs: 12 Kyle Banner, 14 Conor McMullan, 15 Cammy McLair (T), 16 Andy Black, 17 Ronan Fallens, 18 Jack McCue (T), 19 John Henderson (T), 20 Blair Henderson.
Motherwell: 13 Russell Griffiths, 2 Richard Tait (McMillan 45), 21 Cedric Kipré (T) (Dembélé 45), 6 Stephen McManus (Heneghan 45), 18 Charles Dunne (Hammell 45), 15 Andy Rose (McHugh 45), 22 Allan Campbell (Clay 45), 26 Ross MacLean (Cadden 45), 27 Craig Tanner (Thomas 45), 11 Elliott Frear (Gordon 45), 24 Shaun Tuton (T) (Bowman 45). Subs: 39 Peter Morrison, 3 Steven Hammell, 4 Ben Heneghan, 7 Chris Cadden, 8 Carl McHugh, 12 Ryan Bowman, 16 Bira Dembélé (T), 20 Craig Clay, 23 Dom Thomas, 25 Jack McMillan, 28 Shea Gordon.
Referee: David Munro
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