By John Turnbull
University of Stirling were far from their best on Tuesday night as the students exited the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup following a 5-1 defeat to Linlithgow Rose.
Alan Sneddon opened the scoring for Rose on 17 minutes before Euan McGill levelled the game 20 minutes later. Linlithgow took back the initiative two minutes before half-time though, as Sean Heaver’s attempted cross found the back of the net.
The Uni were dealt a blow when Sneddon doubled the host’s advantage after 64 minutes, before late goals from Gary Thom and Mark Stowe rounded off a clinical performance.
Head coach Chris Geddes said: “We didn’t show what we are made of tonight, but full credit to Linlithgow they thoroughly deserved the win.
“They weren’t knocking on Ben’s door with shots at goal, but they looked more of a threat than us. We just didn’t have the solutions to the problems after getting back into the game and to concede that freak goal was disappointing.
“We had to go for it and they killed us off. That’s what big teams do, but my players have done excellent to get here. To only get to another semi-final is disappointing but I’m really proud of my players to get to this stage of the competition.”
Geddes was right to be proud as the Uni travelled to Prestonfield for another semi-final in their 61st game of the season.
Both sides started the game well but Stirling would’ve been encouraged as Matty Burrows and McGill had chances within the first 10 minutes.
It was the hosts that took advantage of their opportunities though as Sneddon broke the deadlock.
Former Stirling Albion forward Sean Heaver drilled his cross through the box and the ball bounced kindly to Sneddon who was on hand to head in at the far post.
With less than 10 minutes to play until half time McGill was rewarded for his lively start. After excellent hold up play from Calum Rae, the striker set up McGill to fire low into the corner.
But just as Stirling set up an exciting second half, Stirling were punished on 43 minutes. Heaver’s corner was cleared back out to him before he whipped the second cross straight into the top corner.
Linlithgow were clearly buoyed by taking the lead and grabbed a third through Sneddon on 64 minutes. Connor McMullan’s cross was met by the man of the match, who headed past Fry.
The game was drifting from Stirling late on and the students were picked off as they searched for a way back in.
Rose captain Gary Thom headed in Linlithgow’s fourth before substitute Mark Stowe capped a tough night for Stirling with a curled effort into the far corner.
University of Stirling: Fry, McGale, Burrows, Taylor, Lavery (Davidson 68’), Berry, Doan, Kennedy (Penker 53’), Jarvis (McArthur 68’), McGill, Rae (Stokes 68’)
Linlithgow Rose: Shaw, Thomson, Thom, Allison, Heaver, Docherty, McKenzie, Ogilvie, McMullan, Sneddon, Allan