University of Stirling 2-0 Gala Fairydean Rovers
Forthbank Stadium, 3pm, 5/12/20.
By Charlie Harris at Forthbank Stadium
The University of Stirling climbed to sixth in the Lowland League on Saturday, with an impressive 2-0 win at home to Gala Fairydean Rovers.
Second half goals from the league’s top goalscorer Jamie Penker and late substitute Kieran Hall, sealed the points for the home side.
Gala showed resolute defending in the first half but lacked in creativity going forward, and struggled to deal with the attacking threat of the students in the latter stages of the game.
The victory saw the students move above Gala in the league, passing Bo’ness United and The Spartans too.
Head Coach Chris Geddes said: “I’m very happy. I thought we dominated the game from start to finish. Ben Fry had one real save to make and we had a lot of chances today, so I’m glad we managed to get the three points against a really good side.
“In my nine years at the Uni, I’ve seen these type of games a lot where we create many chances and don’t take them, so it was a relief when the first goal went in. Gala’s defending was excellent at times to be fair, so credit to them for making it difficult for us.
“We have seen so much progression in the squad this year. What we are practising in training is translating into games – we are creating so many chances and not losing sloppy goals which is really pleasing.”
Reaction: Head Coach Chris Geddes.
Geddes was forced into making one change to his settled side, with Calum Heath deputising for Marcus Lavery, who was ruled out. Heath seamlessly fitted into a Stirling side which, despite being unable to capitalise on chances, had the better of the first half.
Early opportunities for Robbie McGale, Matthew Burrows and Penker failed to trouble Fraser Morton in the Gala goals, but Stirling ramped up the pressure late in the half. McGale and Heath saw goal-bound shots blocked, and Burrows hit the bar with a shot-cum-cross.
It looked like they may have been made to rue missed chances when Gala sprang out of the traps after the break, with striker Leeroy Makovora and substitute Marc Berry testing the Stirling defence in the early stages of the second half.
However, it was the University that broke the deadlock on 64 minutes. Jason Jarvis played in a corner from the left-hand side, which was met at the front post by marksman Jamie Penker who outwitted the Gala defence to head home. The goal is Penker’s 10th of the league season, in just 12 games.
Stirling continued to apply pressure and looked threatening every time they ventured forward. McGale and Jarvis in particular were involved in much of the attacking play, resulting in chances for captain Craig Brown, who is still chasing his first goal of the season.
As Gala pushed forward in search of an equaliser in injury time, Stirling countered with Hall latching onto a long clearance from James Berry. Hall – running from his own half – outpaced the sole Gala defender and slotted past the helpless Morton.
Hall said: “I’m over the moon. I’ve been getting a bit of stick off the boys for not scoring goals, so now that I’ve got that first one, it will hopefully give me the confidence to get some more and push Jamie Penker for the starting position up front.
“The way we are playing speaks for itself. We are challenging all the teams that come here – we just wanted it a bit more today and came out on top.”
The University’s Scottish Cup campaign gets underway next Saturday, as they travel to Perth to take on Jeanfield Swifts in Preliminary Round Two, with the winner entering the competition. To keep up to date with the latest news, results and squad information, please visit: stirlingunifc.stir.ac.uk
University of Stirling: Fry, Burrows, Quigley, Doan, Downie, Berry, Brown, Heath (Bremner 81’), Penker (Hall 87’), Jarvis, McGale
Scorers: Penker (64’) Hall (90+1’)
Gala Fairydean Rovers: Morton, Grant (Herdman 74’), Hall, McBride, Rodger, Taylor MacKenzie, Roue (Berry 46’), Aitchison (Sheerin 74’), Makovora, Galbraith, Campbell (Ward 46’)
Highlights: University of Stirling defeat Gala Fairydean 2-0 at Forthbank.
All photography by George Vekic.