University of Stirling 4 – 0 Vale of Leithen
The University of Stirling hit four goals without reply in a commanding win over bottom-of-the-league Vale of Leithen to secure their second victory of the season.
Defender Matthew Burrows opened the scoring after 20 minutes with an impressive finish, giving the students the advantage at half-time. Stirling turned up the heat after the break and slotted home three second-half goals to secure the win – lifting them to 10th in the Lowland League, with seven points from five games.
Watch: Highlights as Stirling record their second win of the Lowland League season.
Speaking after the match, manager Chris Geddes said: “It was a tough first half and – although we dominated possession and were the better team– we felt fortunate to come in at the break a goal up because Vale of Leithen had a couple of good chances.
“I spoke to the boys at half-time and I was really impressed by the way they reacted in the second half; we took control, pressed and played very well and, most importantly, we took our chances. If it wasn’t for good goalkeeping from the Vale of Leithen, I think we could have scored even more.
“I am delighted with the win and the three points.”
Both sides appeared evenly matched in the opening stages, with half-chances falling to Stirling’s Jason Jarvis and Vale’s Brad Rixon.
The opener came on 20 minutes when, after receiving the ball on the right flank, Burrows cut inside and placed his left-footed shot low into the far corner, past their goalkeeper Andrew McQueen.
Vale of Leithen heads didn’t go down and they had a number of opportunities, including one which pulled an excellent save from Stirling goalkeeper Ben Fry, making his debut for the club.
On 38 minutes, good work from Stirling’s Jamie Penker on the left resulted in a great opportunity for midfielder Craig Brown to double the lead – but his half-volley from 12 yards sailed over the bar.
Geddes’ half-time team talk appeared to inject energy into the student side, as they began the second 45 at a high tempo, pressing their tiring opponents. And, on 49 minutes, striker Euan Baird cleverly turned his opposite number, drove to the edge of the box and hit the net with a superb finish, making it 2-0.
Just moments later, Baird had another very good chance – forcing McQueen to tip over.
Frustrations began to grow for Vale as they struggled to get out of their own half and, on 58 minutes, Stirling made sure of the points. Kieran Hall – who replaced Penker just seconds earlier – picked up possession on the right, went clear and slotted home.
Baird was carried from the field following a poor tackle from Vale defender Alistair Smith, who received yellow for the late challenge, and was replaced by Conor Doan.
On 71 minutes, captain Angus Mailer completed the rout when he cut it on the left, knocked the ball on to his right foot and – from outside the box – fired low. The unstoppable shot bypassed the helpless goalkeeper, making it 4-0.
Vale created a couple of chances in the second half – including a freekick that went narrowly wide, and another where Fry produced an impressive save after their substitute Lewis Hall was put through one-on-one. But it was Stirling that dominated and deserved the win.
Geddes added: “We now look ahead to Saturday’s match against Gala Fairydean Rovers. They have new management, new players – but, coming off this win, the boys should be confident.”
The University will take on Gala Fairydean at Forthbank Stadium at 3pm on Saturday. Tickets are priced at £6 for adults and £3 for concessions. For full fixture information, see: stirlingunifc.stir.ac.uk
University of Stirling: Fry, Quigley, Webb, Mailer, Burrows, Berry, Brown, Jarvis (Peden, 75’), Penker (Hall, 58’), Baird (Doan, 68’), Heath.
Unused subs: Kennedy, Downie, McGale, McMaster
Goals: Burrows (20’), Baird (49’), Hall (58’), Mailer (71’)
Vale of Leithen: McQueen, A. Smith, Wishart (Nicholson, 58’), Thomson, Imlah, Rossi, C. Hall, L. Smith, Rixon, Paterson, Ireland
Unused subs: Robertson, O’Neil, L. Hall, Higgins, Gilpin, Underhill