By John Turnbull at Westfield Park
University of Stirling battled well with West of Scotland side Pollok on Saturday but were knocked out of the South Challenge Cup following a 3-1 defeat in Denny.
Neither side could break the deadlock in the first period and despite a strong start to the second-half, Stirling found themselves two goals behind.
Adam Forde put the Newlands side ahead after 59 minutes before Stuart McCann doubled the advantage 10 minutes later.
The comeback briefly looked on as Louis Kennedy pounced on a rare Pollok mistake, but on 80 minutes McCann grabbed his second to confirm the students’ departure.
Head coach Chris Geddes said: “How we defended the three goals wasn’t how we defended for the majority of the game, that’s the big disappointment for us, not that we lost the game.
“First 12 or 13 minutes of the second half we were on top and had some good opportunities and then they score. We get ourselves back into at 2-1 and then give away a goal. We matched them, physically, energy, and chances wise – but they took their chances when they came and we didn’t.
“They defended for their lives at times and the goalkeeper didn’t have many saves. When you play the big teams, you have to take your chances when you’re on top, we didn’t do that today and we got punished for it.
“We gave a good account of ourselves and ran them close, but ultimately, we’re out of the cup.”
The teams lined-up at Westfield Park on Saturday with a place in the quarter finals of the South Challenge Cup on the line.
It was a frantic start to the game as both sides showed early intent. Chances arrived at both ends of the pitch but the half-time score was a fair reflection of how the game was going.
Stirling looked most likely to open the scoring in the second half after a strong start but against the run of play Pollok struck on the break.
Matty Grant was a constant threat down the right-hand side and just before the hour mark he made the difference. Stirling failed to clear his cross, and Forde was on hand to fire past Fry.
Shortly after, Pollok doubled their lead. This time down the other channel as Johnny Lyons ran into the box before squaring the ball to McCann for his first.
With just over 15 to play Brian Wharton gifted the Uni a way back into the game. The defender’s mishit back-pass was pounced on by Kennedy who rounded the goalkeeper and couldn’t miss.
The game was out of sight only three minutes later though. Chris Duff got in behind the Stirling defence and dug out a cross for McCann to header in from point blank range and seal progression.
The University are quickly back into action as the students host Loughborough University in the semi-final of the BUCS championship on Wednesday.
Geddes added: “The boys will regroup and go again, it’s a massive game for us and one the boys will be looking forward to it come Monday. We’ll have to bounce back and hopefully get the right result.”