The Spartans 3 – 2 University of Stirling
Lowland League / Saturday 25 January, 2020
By Lewis Fraser
Spartans overturned a two-goal deficit to beat the University of Stirling on Saturday, with Blair Atkinson scoring a late winner.
Midfielder Craig Brown and player/manager Chris Geddes – making his first start of the season – gave the students a two-goal lead, but the home team replied with three second-half goals.
Geddes was frustrated to have surrendered the advantage, in his side’s second meeting with Edinburgh-based Spartans in a week.
“I don’t think we deserved to lose,” Geddes said. “Spartans were good today, but obviously to lose so late on is really disappointing.
“It was a really good finish from Craig to go a goal up at half time. We were nice and steady at that point, we were playing well. Spartans came out and upped it in the second half, but we got a breakaway goal to go two up.
“It was then things went wrong. I’ll look at it myself because I took myself off and we lost two goals in the next eight minutes. In hindsight, I maybe should have stayed on longer.”
Stirling made five changes to the team that played Spartans in last weekend’s goalless encounter.
Despite fielding a weakened side, it was the students who took the lead after 22 minutes. Jason Jarvis’s corner led to a scramble in the penalty box. Brown won the ball and dispatched a powerful shot into the bottom corner to give his team the lead.
Stirling goalkeeper Ben Fry was called into action for the first time after half an hour. Gregor Wood struck a shot from the edge of the box, but the young goalkeeper managed to steer the ball around the post.
On the stroke of half time, striker Geddes had a great chance to double his team’s advantage when he latched onto a through ball. He lobbed the goalkeeper, but his effort was too high and landed on the roof of the net.
Spartans emerged from the break on the hunt for an equaliser, and Blair Atkinson almost scored it with a volley five minutes into the half. However, Fry pulled off a stunning save at full stretch to preserve his team’s advantage.
Five minutes later, Stirling’s lead was doubled when captain Angus Mailer showed great vision to pick out Geddes, who outpaced the defensive line to get his shot away. His initial effort was saved, but he made no mistake with the rebound and slotted the ball past goalkeeper Blair Carswell.
On 60 minutes, Spartans pulled a goal back when the University defence failed to deal with a corner, and Michael Bolochoweckyj bundled the ball over the line.
Spartans equalised just before the 70 minute mark. Fry’s mistimed clearance left the University defence exposed. The ball was played to Jack Smith, who calmly scored the equaliser.
The University looked to have steadied themselves in the closing moments of the game, but they could not keep Spartans out. In the 90th minute, Blair Atkinson flicked on the ball from a low corner to the near-post – sending it into the far corner.
The University are currently in pole position in the British Universities and Colleges Sport Premier North division, with just two games to play. They travel to Loughborough on Wednesday in their penultimate match, before returning to Lowland League action on Saturday with a home match against title challengers Bonnyrigg Rose.
University of Stirling: Fry, Mailer, Webb, Quigley, Heath, Cowley, Brown, Bremner (Burrows, 69’), Hall, Jarvis, Geddes (Doan, 59’)