Few players in Ladbrokes League 2 can match Peter MacDonald for pedigree. The 36-year-old has previously starred in the Premiership for the likes of St Johnstone and Dundee.
Now in the twilight of his career, the striker is proving a big hit for new club Stirling Albion. The summer arrival at Forthbank sat down with Ladbrokes News to discuss the Binos’ terrific away form, the club’s impressive crowds and playing under a former opponent…Dave Mackay.
Ladbrokes News: Albion have been in great form this season, especially away from home. You’ve won the last four on the road in all competitions, recording 13 goals in the process. Why do you think this side is so well-equipped for success on your travels?
Peter MacDonald: I think having a slightly better away record has just been a coincidence. We’re a very hard-working side, and have managed to make a very strong start in a number of games already this season.
When you have the quality and work-rate that we do, things tend to fall into place. The manager [Dave Mackay] knows how to set us up well, whoever we’re playing – so going away from home and facing tough sides isn’t something that daunts us.
LN: You’ve chipped in with a couple of goals yourself, including the winner against Championship Brechin City in the League Cup. How have you found slotting into this Binos side so far?
PM: I’m loving it. I’ve had to change my game a bit, being the lone striker some of the time. But it’s a challenge I’m relishing, and I’m really enjoying playing with the guys I have round about me.
We have a good balance in the side. There’s quite a few attacking players here with real pace. I don’t have that in my game at this age, but I do have a lot of experience.
Over the past two or so years, I’ve had to change my game because of losing some speed, but it’s driven me to work more on improving other aspects, like holding up the ball and my distribution. All in all, I think Stirling Albion has been a really good fit for me.
LN: A word on some of the guys around you – Darren Lee Smith has been in outstanding form, and we’ve also seen some very strong displays from youngsters Callumn Morrison and Ross Kavanagh up front. What do those three bring to the table?
PM: ‘Daz’ and Callumn are very fast. I talked about pace a minute ago, and those two have it in abundance. Ross, as with Callumn, is a great prospect and someone who has a lot of raw talent.
I think one really crucial thing is that any combination the manager goes with seems to be working. It also means we have a very strong bench, with players who can come on and turn a game on its head.
We’re also one of the fittest sides in the league, in my opinion. That could prove crucial in the latter stages of this season.
LN: Ahead of the season, the Binos were 12/1 to win the title. You’re now priced up at 11/4. Do you see yourselves as title favourites at this point? Or at least as serious contenders.
PM: I don’t like to look at it that way. Obviously, the outside view on our change will change based on our form, but for me, the focus is just always on the coming game. I never even look three or four weeks ahead – let alone months in advance.
It’s just a case of keeping our heads down, maintaining the standard we’re at and seeing where that takes us. If people talk about us as favourites, or second favourites, it shows we’re doing well. But we can’t let it become our focus.
LN: You’ve also averaged the highest home crowds in League 2 so far this season, with more than 850 in attendance for the Clyde game. Have you been impressed and encouraged by the support at Forthbank thus far?
PM: The support at Forthbank has been great. Every person who comes through the turnstiles plays a part in helping spur the team on.
It’s a two-way thing, though. The fans will keep coming back when we’re playing good football and winning games. If we want more turnouts like we had for the Clyde match, we need to keep giving them reasons to come and watch us.
LN: Next up is the visit of Elgin City on Saturday. The Binos beat them twice last season, but also received a humbling 4-0 defeat from the Moray club. How do you think Albion will set up? And who are Elgin’s danger men, in your view?
PM: Elgin have a lot of quality. In terms of attacking threat, they certainly miss Shane Sutherland, who’s been out with a cruciate injury for quite a few months now. He won League 2 Player of the Season [in 2016-17] and was absolutely key for them. But they have players across the park who can cause teams problems.
As a rule, though, we tend not to worry too much about the opposition. Obviously, it helps to identify their strengths and weaknesses, but more than anything else, it’s about how we go about our business and impose ourselves on the game.
LN: Your manager Dave Mackay is a player you faced on several occasions back in your St Johnstone days. What have you found him like as a gaffer?
PM: He’s been great. I think we’ve had a perfect balance in training, especially. The sessions are really vigorous, but also a lot of fun. And he’s been very good with the older players like myself, who maybe need a bit more rest.
I think the boss has a very bright future in management. He was a top-notch player – and a very tough competitor! – and a lot of those attributes are helping in this role.
Stirling Albion are 20/23 to continue their sensational start to the season with three points against Elgin on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Forthbank club can be backed at 11/4 to lift the League 2 title this season.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing