By John Turnbull at Forthbank, with photos from George Vekic
The University of Stirling bounced back after a tough week to down in-form Caledonian Braves 3-1 at Forthbank.
The Uni were well in control in the first half, and James Stokes ensured the Uni had the lead at the break.
James Berry hit a wonderful free-kick before Ben Heal added a third in the second half. The Braves pulled one back through Greig Stewart amid late pressure, but it was only a consolation.
Head coach Chris Geddes was delighted as he said: “To come away with a comfortable win against a team who had only lost two of their last 20 Lowland League games was quite impressive from my guys.
“To limit them to no shots in the first half and go in one-nil up was really good. We knew they would come out strong in the second half, they changed shape, but we saw out the first ten minutes, and apart from the last seven or eight minutes I think we were well worth the win.”
From the first whistle, Stirling was up for the challenge, as the students looked to get back to winning ways after a tough week against the Old Firm B sides.
Striker Ben Maciver-Redwood said: “We came out really strong, and overall, the boys played really well in the first half. We put it [the Celtic defeat on Wednesday] behind us, and we were excited to come out and try to make an impact and win the game.”
As the game unfolded, the two sides locked horns in a tight, physical battle, but importantly, Stirling gained control early on.
After building on a solid defensive foundation, the Uni deserved its lead when Stokes smashed the students in front.
The winger picked up the ball on the edge of the visitors’ box before firing a left-footed effort towards the near post.
Having failed to find the target in the first period, Ricky Waddell’s side came out firing after the break, but Cameron Breadner was denied twice by great saves from Ben Fry in the Uni goal.
The key moment after the break came as Stirling opened up a two-goal lead. Captain James Berry whipped a delightful free-kick into the far corner on 64 minutes to give his side breathing room.
It was a goal that “calmed us down” Maciver-Redwood added. The Uni pushed on from there as Ben Heal made it three just nine minutes later.
Maciver-Redwood held the ball up well before finding Heal on one of his advancing runs into the box before the midfielder struck in off the crossbar.
As the Braves attacked late on, Stewart lifted the ball into the Stirling goal, but it was too late for a comeback as Stirling had already imposed their quality and secured another valuable three points.
University of Stirling: Fry, Burrows, Lavery, Service, McGill (McAninch 75’), Berry, Heal, Russell (Thompson 62’), Stokes, Rae (Bainbridge 87’), Maciver-Redwood (Woloszyn 87’)
Caledonian Braves: Henry, Brown, Walker, McDowall, Forrester, Main, Butterworth, Cusick (McNeil 81’), Watson (Stewart 72’), Kelly, Breadner