By John Turnbull at Forthbank Stadium
University of Stirling continued their incredible run of form on Saturday with a dominant 5-0 win over Vale of Leithen at Forthbank.
Vale made it hard work for the students in the first half, and it took 45 minutes for Jamie Penker to open the scoring right on the cusp of half-time.
Stirling were far more fluent in the second half and the floodgates soon opened. Two goals in a minute from Lucas De Zoeten and James Berry had the University three goals up before George Stanger grabbed a double to complete the rout.
Head coach Chris Geddes said: “Five goals, clean sheet, some different scorers, and a really good performance. The only blip really was giving away the penalty but thankfully the boy missed it so I’m really happy.
“Vale dug in and made it really hard for us, they didn’t really try to attack but just kept their shape really well. The first goal was key, and in the second half other than the penalty we were in complete control.
“(The difference) was the fitness of the players, the pace, energy, the subs we could bring on, and just the confidence. Two goals in a minute knocked the stuffing out of them, and we were clinical when the chances came.
“The boys are fighting hard, six clean sheets in a row, seven wins in a row, 11 unbeaten in all competitions and coaching a Uni side, that doesn’t happen very often. Credit to the players, they’re the ones putting the work in.”
After claiming another three points during the week in the British Universities and College Sport Premier North league, Stirling welcomed Vale of Leithen to Forthbank as a side full of confidence.
But it was a slow start from the high-flying students and it took until a minute before the break to open the scoring. Penker beat the goalkeeper to Jason Jarvis’s curled pass before calmly dinking past him.
It was a far more threatening display in the second period and before ten minutes had been played, the Uni found themselves three to the good.
Penker played his hand in getting the second as he dug out a cross into the middle of the box for De Zoeten, who controlled it and chopped onto his left foot and fired into the net.
Straight from the restart Stirling were in again. Scott McArthur done brilliantly to drive past two defenders and cut the ball back to an on-rushing James Berry to finish for the third.
Second-half substitute Euan McGill combined with Stanger for almost identical goals. A whipped corner from the left found the centre-back free on the 6-yard box to grab a double, and wrap up a comfortable afternoon.
University of Stirling: Fry, Downie, Hutchinson, Stanger, Burrows, De Zoeten, Berry (Davidson 77), McArthur, Stokes (Kennedy 58’), Jarvis, Penker (McGill 66’)
Vale of Leithen: Trialist, McFarlane, Brady, Anderson, Mackay, Robertson, Trialist, Furness, Trialist, Viola, Cormack