Jan 26 2012 By Colin Paterson
IRN-BRU SECOND DIVISION:
AIRDRIE v STIRLING ALBION
New Broomfield, 3pm
Tomorrow's referee: Gary Hilland.
Airdrie top goalscorer: Ryan Donnelly (25).
Stirling Albion top goalscorer: Scott Davidson (6).
Airdrie form guide (most recent result first): L L L W W L
Stirling Albion form guide (most recent result first): D L W W L L
Last meeting: Stirling Albion 1 Airdrie 4 (Saturday, December 3).
Why is Cameron MacDonald allowed to play this weekend despite receiving a straight red card last Saturday against Dumbarton?
The simple answer is because he is a trialist. The former Livingston defender's two-game ban for violent conduct will not kick in until he is formally registered with the SFA by his next club.
He can play two further games as a trialist for the Diamonds meaning he is eligible for the visit of Stirling.
But hasn't he confirmed that he's signed for Airdrie?
Yes. In comments given to our sister paper, the West Lothian Courier, he confirmed that he had agreed a deal to the end of the season.
What Airdrie will not do is lodge the necessary paperwork at Hampden until after this weekend. They could hold the documents back longer and let him feature as a trialist at Arbroath next Saturday. They will also delay formally announcing MacDonald's signing.
So the club are exposing loopholes then?
The polite way of assessing this week's events is to say that Airdrie are taking advantage of the rules, which are unlikely to be changed, as they currently stand.
The club has done nothing wrong although not many will have agreed with their decision to appeal MacDonald's dismissal yesterday. It was subsequently rejected.
Why the desperation for MacDonald to play against Stirling?
Boss Jimmy Boyle has virtually no other options at centre-back so MacDonald and David Lilley are the expected combination tomorrow.
Kieron Stallard is banned and Kevin Green has a broken foot. Craig Hill was released last month and utility man Rhys Devlin has been sent to East Stirling on loan.
Have Airdrie signed a new keeper yet?
Yes. Grant Adam has arrived on loan from Rangers until the end of the season.
Brother of Liverpool star Charlie, he is also a Scotland under-21 international.
How important is tomorrow's game?
Massive. Airdrie must pick up three points to get their top-four bid back on track.
Airdrie, in seventh place, have played 21 matches but the teams around them from second position to eighth all have two games in hand.
A gap of four points exists to the promotion play-off zone with the Diamonds only three above the relegation area.
Boyle's men can't afford to be dropping any more points at New Broomfield with three of their four games in February away from home.