With all the talk of Clyde’s talented squad and Edinburgh City’s arrival in the Ladbrokes SPFL, Stirling Albion have slipped under the radar somewhat – as their odds of 16/1 to lift the Ladbrokes League 2 title suggest.
The Binos have kept their faith in manager Stuart McLaren following a difficult 18 months in charge, and he seems to be finding his feet in terms of both tactics and the transfer market.
A famous victory over Falkirk was chalked up in the League Cup, as the Binos’ solid 4-4-2 stifled their more illustrious opponents, while a forward-thinking 4-3-3 set-up saw Elgin City mercilessly dispatched by a 4-1 scoreline.
However, neither result should be a huge surprise considering the quality of player arriving at Forthbank throughout the summer.
Even among a number of eye-catching signings, the most exciting is surely Blair Henderson, snapped up from Berwick Rangers.
The pacy 22-year-old is arguably the league’s most natural finisher, and having scored 17 times in Ladbrokes League 2 last season, he’s now netted four times in four League Cup games – and continues to improve his sharp reading of the game.
Eddie Ferns – one of Alloa’s few bright sparks last season – is a significant talent at this level, as is skilful youngster Jamie Mills, one of a number of impressive players to come through the Rangers academy in recent seasons.
And there can be few in Scottish football more adept at developing the game of young players as McLaren is, having achieved real success as head coach of Loughborough University F.C. from 2011-14.
Despite a narrow 3-2 defeat at Annan on Saturday, now is the time to back Stirling for the title, before they face title favourites Clyde this weekend.
The Binos have beaten Clyde four times since the start of 2013, including a 4-1 victory at Forthbank in 2014. With McLaren’s men looking good for another win over the Bully Wee, the current price of 16s is likely to be the longest their odds of a title triumph will get.
It’s 29/10 for Stirling to make a title statement with victory over Barry Ferguson’s men, with the away side 7/5 and 27/10 for the draw.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing