Students stumble against Cumbernauld in Lowland League

Cumbernauld Colts 2 – 0 University of Stirling
Lowland League, Saturday 22 February, 2020
By Lewis Fraser

University of Stirling returned to Lowland League action with a 2-0 defeat to Cumbernauld Colts on Saturday.

First half goals from Billy Mortimer and Michael Cunningham gave Colts a comfortable advantage, before University midfielder Craig Brown missed a penalty in the closing stages of the match.

Manager Chris Geddes was left to rue missed chances in the second half, after losing to a team who started the day only five points ahead of the students. He said: “Cumbernauld were really good in the first half, scored two really good goals, but we just couldn’t get anything going. We were so sloppy, giving the ball away. They were more physical, winning all the first and second balls, and it showed.

“It was very windy, and one team had the advantage each half. The wind did play a part but I can’t use that as an excuse – we just weren’t good enough. For instance, for the second goal, we had a throw in on the half-way line and 10 seconds later they has the ball in the net – so we need to work out why that’s happened. That’s just not good enough from our perspective.

“First half, Cumbernauld were a lot better but second half we were better, we couldn’t really get any worse. We’ve had the four best chances of the second half – Jamie Penker had two and he should score one of them, at least.

“We’ve missed the penalty and we missed a header from six yards. I don’t know how we’re not putting these in. It’s been a bit of an Achilles heel all season for us and it showed today.” 

Highlights: Cumbernauld Colts 2 – 0 University of Stirling.

With the wind at their back, the home team started the stronger. After eight minutes, the University’s goalkeeper Ben Fry did well to keep the score level, as he saved Billy Mortimer’s close range shot with his leg.

However, Colts were rewarded for their strong start, as they took the lead after 11 minutes. Stephen O’Neil’s cross was met by Mortimer, who was unchallenged in the box. The striker – who recently signed from Queens Park – guided the ball past Fry and into the bottom corner.

Almost immediately after going behind, the University were nearly on level terms again through captain Angus Mailer. Mailer’s powerful cross almost caught out Colts goalkeeper Jonathan Grier, as the ball clipped the frame of the woodwork, but came to nothing.

After only half an hour, Cumbernauld doubled their advantage thanks to a strike from Michael Cunningham. Stephen O’Neil was once again the creator, as his through ball split the Stirling defence, leaving Cunningham with only Fry to beat. Cunningham produced a composed finish, calmly slotting the ball underneath Fry.

The first half came to a close, with the University failing to threaten the Colts goalkeeper, and trailing by two goals.

With the wind assisting them in the second half, the students began to come into the game. Colts defended well though, and it wasn’t until the final 20 minutes when the University started to threaten.

Reaction: Manager Chris Geddes has his say on the result.

On 72 minutes, Callum Downie’s cross found Penker in space on the edge of the box. The substitute took aim for the top right corner, but his shot was narrowly wide of the post.

Moments later, it was Penker again who came agonisingly close to scoring. This time, Matty Burrows’ cross found the substitute, but his close-range header was just wide of the same post as his previous effort.

After 88 minutes, it looked like Stirling would have a lifeline going into the final few minutes of the game. Calum Heath was bundled over in the Colts box, winning a penalty for the student side. It was Brown who stepped up to take the spot-kick, but the midfielder’s effort was well saved by Grier, who dived to his right to save the penalty.

The University will look to pick themselves up quickly, with their British Universities and Colleges Cup campaign starting this Wednesday. This is followed by a home match against Gretna 2008 in the Lowland League on Saturday.

University: Fry, Quigley, Webb, Doan, Berry (Heath 70’), Cowley (Penker 60’), Jarvis, Downie, Brown, Mailer, Baird (Burrows 55’)  

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