By John Turnbull at Forthbank
The University of Stirling suffered a first defeat since October on Wednesday night, as Bo’ness United claimed an unlikely three points with a 2-1 win.
The students were far from their usual best, but a clinical display from Kyle Johnston and Alassan Jones saw the visitors into a second-half lead.
Late Stirling substitute Jack Docherty provided a stoppage-time scare for United as he bundled in from close range, but it was too little too late at Forthbank.
Head coach Chris Geddes said: “It was a tough game – Bo’ness are in a false position in the league – they have some really talented players.
“I can’t say we deserved to win, but we definitely didn’t deserve to lose that game, on chances, anyway. In the final third, we were just really poor, and when Bo’ness got their chances, they took them.
“We just had no quality in the final third, there was good play from the back to the edge of the box, but then crosses were being cleared. We’ve got to look at ourselves, from where we’ve been this season to put that performance in was a bit of a shock.
“Bo’ness looked sharper at times in terms of their press, but they didn’t really test our goalkeeper, but I’m not going to use excuses, I’ll look at myself, and we’ll go again.
“We can compete with anyone in this league, fitness-wise, energy, tactics, but when you play differently in the final third, that’s the difference.
“Every team in the Lowland League has strong defenders, but the forwards win you games. Sadly, for us, having done it all season, there were a few players who had an off night.”
Another postponed Lowland League fixture meant the Uni took to Forthbank for just a second game since December 7.
Despite a difference in match sharpness between the two sides, there was little to separate them in the first half.
Ryan Stevenson was gifted possession by Stirling goalkeeper Ben Fry but couldn’t find the target from inside the area before Euan McGill’s 1v1 effort was saved well at the other end.
As the half went on, Stirling grew into the game and began to pose a consistent threat to the visitors, although the hard work was undone on 64 minutes when Bo’ness took the lead.
Alassan Jones’ corner from the far side found traffic in the penalty area but landed kindly for Johnston, who was on hand to smash in from six yards.
It was Bo’ness’ danger man who caused Stirling more grief as Jones doubled the lead seven minutes later.
The former Dundee United player expertly travelled down the line towards goal before his effort rebounded back to his feet off the post for a simple finish.
The students applied some late pressure in the hope to rescue something from the game and substitute Jack Docherty’s goal provided a glimpse of that.
Jason Jarvis’ free-kick found its way through the box to Docherty who beat United goalkeeper Musa Dibaga to it, and the ball rolled over the line.
Despite a strong push for a leveller in stoppage time, it would be an unfamiliar feeling for the students in defeat.
University of Stirling: Fry, Burrows, Service, Lavery, Stokes (Munro 80), Berry, Heal (Russell 68), McAninch (Docherty 68), Jarvis, McKinley (McGill 24), Maciver-Redwood (Mirzasalimov 80)
Bo’ness United: Dibaga, Stevenson, McCormack, Ward, McArthur, Gemmell, Hamilton, Johnston, Miller, Todd, Jones