Caledonian Braves 2 – 3 University of Stirling
Alliance Park, 14/11/20, Lowland League
By Graham Fleming at Alliance Park
University of Stirling got back to winning ways against Caledonian Braves as they came from behind to run out 3-2 winners at Alliance Park on Saturday.
The Braves struck first, after just 14 minutes, but goals from Jason Jarvis and then on-form striker Jamie Penker gave the students the lead going into the break.
Stirling goalkeeper Ben Fry was caught out by a speculative long-range effort from Braves’ Neil McLaughlin just after the break – but Robbie McGale sealed all three points for Stirling in the closing stages.
University Head Coach Chris Geddes said: “I’m delighted with the win today – we’ve had a difficult run of results lately, coming off three consecutive losses which were all really tight games.
“Caledonian Braves threw everything at us today and I am really proud of the boys.
“The difference for us this season is goals. Last year, for instance, we came here and played really well but got beat 3-0 because we didn’t take our chances.
“We’re doing really well in front of goal at the moment.”
Match winner Robbie McGale and Head Coach Chris Geddes react to the 3-2 victory.
The University travelled to Alliance Park looking to end their poor run of results against a Caledonian Braves side who were also low in confidence, having been thrashed 5-0 by Gretna 2008 in their previous match.
It was the home side that struck first with forward Jack Smith slotting home under Fry, after a tidy one-two through the middle of the park. However, the students replied almost immediately. After linking up with Callum Downie on the left, full-back Marcus Lavery delivered a cross which found Jarvis, who bundled the ball past goalkeeper Yohann Chardon to settle the away side’s nerves.
The goal boosted the confidence of the students who looked more comfortable in possession, as they pushed forward in search of a second. Meanwhile, Braves were depending on experienced centre-forward David Winters to latch onto their long balls and bring others into play.
After 30 minutes, Stirling added their second after a pass from Matthew Burrows allowed McGale space on the right side. McGale drilled in a low cross and Penker capitalised to give Stirling the advantage going into the break.
However, the visitors’ lead was short-lived, as the hosts scored an equaliser just two minutes after the restart. Braves midfielder McLaughlin launched an ambitious 40-yard effort, which caught Fry absent from his line and the ball hit the net.
Both sides had chances during the second half as they chased a winning goal. Smith and Winters came close for the home side, while Penker had an attempt at goal saved from close range after an accurate Downie cross.
With just 10 minutes left of the contest, the winning goal came for the students. James Berry picked up the ball on the counter attack and released McGale on the right. The winger knocked the ball past his opponent and drove towards goal. Under immense pressure from a defender, he neatly finished low into the bottom corner and wheeled away in celebration.
The University endured pressure in the latter stages as the home side piled players forward in search of another equaliser, but the students stood firm and dealt the barrage of corners and long throws, to end their losing streak.
Stirling return to Lowland League action against Bo’ness United on Wednesday 25 November at Forthbank Stadium. Keep up-to-date with the University Football Club’s news, fixtures and results at: stirlingunifc.stir.ac.uk
University of Stirling: Fry, Burrows, Quigley, Doan, Lavery, Downie, Brown, Berry (Heath, 83′), Penker (Hall, 75′), Jarvis, McGale
Scorers: Jarvis (16′), Penker (28′), McGale (80′)
Caledonian Braves: Chardon, Reid, Forrester, Guthrie, Slattery, Downie, Winters, Esplin, Smith, McLaughlin, Watson (Lachlan, 65′)
Scorers: Smith (14′), McLaughlin (47′)