University of Stirling 1 – 0 Berwick Rangers
Saturday 14 December, Forthbank Stadium
By Lewis Fraser
Kieran Hall’s late goal was the difference between the University of Stirling and Berwick Rangers, as the students picked up a valuable three points.
The 1-0 win – at Forthbank on Saturday afternoon – was Stirling’s second league victory over Berwick this season, having won the away encounter 2-1 back in August.
The winning goal was the result of a well-rehearsed free kick routine. Craig Brown play the ball to the back post where defender Matty Burrows headed across goal – and striker Hall arrived to scramble the ball over the line. The goal was the only one in a game of few clear cut chances, as the visitors struggled to find any composure in-front of goal.
Stirling manager Chris Geddes was delighted to get the victory, in what was a hard fought match. He said: “We deserved something from the game. Berwick will be disappointed because they put a lot into the game as well. On a day like today it is likely to be one goal that nicks it and, thankfully, we got it.
“It was good to go in nil-nil at half time – Berwick had a lot of shots but none really troubled Ben in goal. Berwick had a lot of opportunities in the second half too, but Ben probably only had one save to make.
“The boys were working on their free kicks in training, and it paid off. Matty laid it across the box for Kieran and he’s knocked it in to make it one-nil and win the game.”
Stirling started well, and after a period of pressure, Jason Jarvis’s powerful close range shot was well saved by Sean Brennan. This was Stirling’s best chance in a half where both sides struggled to test the other’s goalkeeper.
After 35 minutes, Berwick midfielder Euan Smith did well to create an angle for a shot only 10 yards from goal. However, Ben Fry was not troubled, as the ball passed harmlessly over the bar.
Berwick kicked off the second half, and their best chance of the game came within ten seconds of the re-start. Cammy Lumsden received the ball and split the students defence with a run through the middle of the pitch. He managed to get a shot away but, much to the relief of Stirling, it hit the post and went out of play.
The fast start to the half from Berwick buoyed the visitors, as they piled pressure on the Stirling defence. However, the defensive partnership of Angus Mailer and Ben Quigley did well to ensure Fry was not busy in the Uni goal.
Gradually, Stirling came more into the game, and the additions of Conor Doan and Calum Heath gave the side more of an attacking threat. Indeed, it was Heath who looked to be in behind the Berwick defence and was brought down which lead to Stirling’s crucial free kick.
It was the 82nd minute when Heath won the free kick just outside the opposition box. Three Stirling players stood over the ball, as Doan rolled the ball to Heath. The substitute then controlled the ball for Brown, whose delivery led to the vital goal.
Stirling remain in 10th position in the Lowland League and will travel to Dalbeattie Star this Saturday.
University of Stirling: Fry, Burrows, Quigley, Mailer, Downie, Cowley (Doan, 64’), Berry, Jarvis, Hall (Penker, 84’), McGale (Heath, 69’), Brown