By John Turnbull at Forthbank
Despite having an extended Christmas break, the University of Stirling returned to Lowland League action with a bang on Boxing Day.
First-half goals from Euan McGill and Ciaran McAninch earned the Uni a sixth consecutive league victory in a 3-1 win over Berwick Rangers.
As the floodgates opened, the floodlights went out, and after play resumed in the second half, Liam Buchanan netted an away consolation, but the students extended their unbeaten run to 14 games.
Head coach Chris Geddes said: “Always going to be happy with three points, especially against a strong, physical, well-coached side.
“It has been a nightmare, but thankfully we managed to get a couple of sessions in this week. We always know what we will get from the boys and thankfully, we got that again.
“We asked for loads of energy, loads of intensity, and quality – if we can get that then we have a really good chance as we have a great squad this year.
“The goals were excellent; Berwick gave us the ball for the third one, but we still cut them open with the passes that came after it.
“Euan has so much ability in the box, and we trust him completely. Last season he played numerous games up front for us and scored a few. He came in today as Ben (Maciver-Redwood) was away, and will be back on Saturday so we have decisions to make, but Euan got two goals and was excellent.
“Ciaran (McAninch) also got a really good goal, which was great. It wasn’t perfect as we conceded, but it was what we wanted.”
Forthbank hosted the only game in Scotland on Monday, as Stirling finally returned to action after festive conditions froze the Uni’s climb up the Lowland League table.
But the students showed no signs of a Christmas hangover as McGill opened the scoring on seven minutes.
James Stokes did the hard work down the right wing before smashing the ball across goal, and McGill was perfectly placed to tap home.
Berwick were all at sea defensively as Calum Antell scuffed a back pass just inches past his own past, and the visitors would soon pay as McGill doubled the Uni lead.
Rangers headed away possession to McAninch, who flicked the ball through for McGill, and the 22-year-old slid his effort past Antell for the second time on 34 minutes.
Shortly before half-time, McAninch turned goal scorer to wrap up the three points.
Berwick gifted Stirling another present as Ben Heal pounced on a loose pass before combining with Cammy McKinley and McGill before McAninch cut onto his left and picked out the far top corner.
As they did in the Borders in the reverse fixture, the floodlights halted play, but as they came back on, Berwick sparked into life.
Liam Buchanan headed in from a well-worked corner to set up an edgy finish on 76 minutes, in which the away side looked most dangerous.
It was from that route that Berwick almost nicked a second minutes later, but the first-half goals had knocked the stuffing out of Berwick as the Uni moved up to third in the league table.
University of Stirling: Fry, Burrows, Service, Lavery, Berry, Heal, McAninch (Docherty 75’), Stokes (Bainbridge 89’), Jarvis (Russell 75’), McKinley, McGill (Mirzasalimov 75’)
Berwick Rangers: Antell, Stevenson, Travis, Pyper, Sneddon, Barr, Nelson, Taylor, Harris, Buchanan, Graham