By John Turnbull at Alliance Park
Calum Rae’s first half goal saw the University of Stirling progress to the second round of the Scottish Cup with a hard-fought 1-0 away win against Caledonian Braves on Saturday.
Having dominated the first period, it was only a matter of time before the students went ahead and despite rueing further chances, headed into the break with the all-important lead.
The hosts fought back after the break but Stirling defended heroically and claimed a deserved cup success.
Head coach Chris Geddes said: “To get a clean sheet, defend the way we did, and attack the way we did, I’m really proud of the boys. We’ve had a tough start to the season but things have started to pick up recently, so I’m really proud of them.
“The goal we got was quality – there was some great passing around the box. Ben Davidson picks out Calum and he puts it away, but we were fine and happy to be one up.
“The guys in front, but especially our back four were excellent, they threw themselves in front of everything. We had a couple of lucky moments, but in the second half our biggest disappointment was that we could’ve killed it off a lot sooner. But we’re in the hat, it’s the Scottish Cup, it doesn’t matter how you play, you just get the win if you can and we did.”
The students travelled to Alliance Park as underdogs having been beaten 4-1 in the first league meeting between the two sides in July. However, with just 25 minutes on the clock, it was the visitors who opened the scoring. Some intricate passing play was rewarded when Davidson set up Rae for a simple tap-in.
Stirling were full of confidence and almost had a second only five minutes later, as Louis Kennedy’s corner went unclaimed before rebounding off of the far post.
The second period was much different though, as Braves began to dictate the game. Cameron Breadner was the first Braves player to strike the post, as he tried his luck from distance.
But deep into the half Stirling should’ve confirmed the result, when McArthur pounced on a loose back pass and went round the goalkeeper, only for the defender to recover well and block his shot.
The University held tight though and despite riding their luck on a couple of occasions, defended gallantly throughout the second 45, to earn a fine win on the biggest stage.
University of Stirling: Fry, McGale, Burrows, Taylor, Downie, Doan, Berry (McArthur 75), Davidson, Rae (Mirzasalimov 89), Stokes (McGill 62), Kennedy
Caledonian Braves: Henry, Brown, Walker, Main, Duncan, Forrester, Butterworth, Lindsay, Kelly, Armstrong, Breadner