By George Vekic at the University of Stirling
University of Stirling sealed back-to-back British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Premier North titles with a 3-0 win over Durham University on Wednesday.
The students had their midfield to thank on the day with Conor Doan, Louis Kennedy and Ben Davidson grabbing the goals to cap a fine team performance.
Remarkably, the win extends Stirling’s unbeaten run to 12 games in all competitions, with eight consecutive wins and seven clean sheets in a row.
Head Coach Chris Geddes was delighted his side were crowned champions – defending the title they won in 2019/20, the last BUCS season played due to the pandemic.
He said: “It was a difficult one coming in. We knew we had to beat them and they were fighting for their life at the bottom of the league.
“But today we showed why we’re the best team in the league, and it’s very pleasing to say that.
“The season’s been good overall. We’ve only had one loss – Newcastle away – and only conceded one goal, with four wins at home.
“Being the first team at University of Stirling to win the league back-to-back is a massive achievement, so I’m really proud of the boys today.”
Stirling started brightly from the first whistle and began to assert themselves over Durham through possession play and hard running.
Played at the University of Stirling, the healthy home crowd didn’t have to wait long for the deadlock to be broken.
Doan opened the scoring on the 15-minute mark, stroking home a penalty after striker Jamie Penker was fouled in the box.
Stirling doubled their lead just a minute later. Euan McGill fed Robbie McGale a quick throw-in, and Kennedy was there to flick in the cross from a yard out.
Kennedy’s goal eased any potential pressure on the home side, who grew in confidence as the game went on.
There was little in the way of attack from the Durham side, with chances few and far between thanks to an imperious Stirling defence – goalkeeper Ben Fry barely breaking a sweat during the 90 minutes.
Durham looked unable to cope with Stirling’s strong press and counter, and the game plan paid dividends when Davidson – who had an excellent game – finished off a slick passing move involving the entire Stirling attack.
Try as they might, Durham couldn’t breach the home defence and could only watch on as passengers in a comfortable Stirling win.
With victory against Durham, the team made history as the first University of Stirling side to win back-to-back BUCS titles.
This was an achievement that was hard-won – compounded by competing in two leagues, the BUCS Premier North and the Lowland League.
University of Stirling team: Fry, McGale, Burrows, Taylor, Lavery, Berry, Doan, Davidson, Penker (Rae, 85’), Kennedy (Jarvis, 72’), McGill (Stokes, 60’)