– Report, highlights, interviews and gallery
University of Stirling 4 – 1 Vale of Leithen
Forthbank Stadium, 24/10/20, 3pm
By Charlie Harris at Forthbank Stadium
University of Stirling continued their impressive start to the Lowland League season – taking maximum points against 10-man Vale of Leithen at Forthbank on Saturday.
The students put four goals past Vale – who struggled to deal with the University’s expansive style – to secure their third consecutive victory. The run of impressive results has earned the University nine points from four games – as they prepare to face league contenders Bonnyrigg Rose at home on Wednesday evening.
Having scored in all league games so far this season, on-form marksman Jamie Penker continued his rich vein of form. After just three minutes, the forward slotted home, before a terrific effort from Robbie McGale doubled Stirling’s lead midway through the first half.
The students added a third early in the second half, with red-hot Penker scoring again, before the away side pulled a goal back through Bradley Rixon moments later.
However, Vale’s potential comeback was short-lived, as half time substitute Donovan Ndiweni was shown a straight red card for a two-footed challenge, before Euan Baird wrapped up all three points for the home side.
Highlights: University could have scored ‘eight or nine’, according to Head Coach Chris Geddes.
University Head Coach Chris Geddes said: “I’m delighted with the result. We gave Vale a goal – and that was a mistake from us – but to score four at home is great. We could have had eight or nine goals today but for some poor finishing.
“I’m really pleased for all our strikers. Euan Baird scoring today and Kieran Hall getting minutes too. It will do Jamie Penker’s confidence a world of good scoring two goals, and from his perspective he’s really happy.
“Craig Brown came on and should have scored too, but he did everything that we wanted him to do – just like the other subs; Euan, Kieran, Louis Kennedy and Calum Heath.
“All in all, it was a very good performance from the team.”
Reaction: On-fire Jamie Penker reflects on his four goals in five games (interview by Graham Fleming).
The University hit the ground running and Penker benefitted from great build-up play from James Berry, finishing well past Ben McGinley in the opposition goal, with just three minutes on the clock.
The students dominated much of the first half, with chances for Jason Jarvis and McGale testing the opposition defence, before the latter picked up the ball, beat two players and fired home with the outside of his right foot to double the lead on 26 minutes.
Vale boss Chris Anderson made three changes at the break – but it was to be in vain as Penker made it five goals in four games on 54 minutes, with a trademark finish inside the box, converting an impressive assist from tricky Jarvis.
Vale pulled one back just seconds later, with Stirling keeper Ben Fry clearing the ball straight to the feet of Rixon, who capitalised on the lapse in concentration.
Stirling continued to stretch Vale, with substitutes Brown and Kennedy involved in opportunities, and Penker was denied a hattrick by the woodwork, heading against the bar from a Kennedy cross.
Vale’s day went from bad to worse, as substitute Ndiweni was given his marching orders in the 84th minute for a rash challenge on Callum Downie.
The home side sealed victory as Baird – assisted by Berry – scored an emphatic fourth, lifting the students to seventh in the table.
With eyes on Wednesday’s match against Bonnyrigg Rose, Geddes said: “It will be a really tough game as they are league contenders. We will try our best and with the way we are playing, you never know, we might get something out the game.”
Reaction: Head coach Chris Geddes reflects on the third consecutive win (interview by Graham Fleming).
University of Stirling: Fry, Burrows, Quigley, Doan, Lavery (Kennedy 58’), Downie, Davidson (Brown 58’), Berry, Penker (Baird 79’), Jarvis (Hall 87’), McGale (Heath 87’)
Scorers: Penker 3’, 54’, McGale 26’, Baird 86’
Vale of Leithen: McGinley, Robertson, Temple (Ndiweni 46’), Weir, Brogan, Rossi, Higgins (Rixon 46’), Hall, Grotlin, Kinchant, Laidlaw (Neave 46’)
Scorers: Rixon 56’
Red Card: Ndiweni 84’
Photos by George Vekic