By John Turnbull at Forthbank
A James Berry double from the penalty spot ensured the University of Stirling resumed progress in the Lowland League on Saturday.
Chris Geddes was looking for a response against Gretna 2008, and the students provided that as they left Forthbank with three points, courtesy of a convincing 2-0 win.
The Uni head coach said: “After you lose, it’s always good to get a win and a convincing win at that. The boys are happy to get three points – that is what we set out to do.
“The goals were two poor decisions from the Gretna defenders, and James tucked them away. We were a lot sharper around the box.
“We still didn’t test the goalkeeper enough, but the play around it was good, just that last shot or cross wasn’t good enough again, but how can I complain about these boys.
“In our last 27 games, we’ve only lost three, the boys are giving everything they’ve got, and so it was good to get the goals.
“We knew they had players that could hurt us, so I think it was also a testament to our defenders and midfielders that we kept them to almost no corners and no shots.
“It was an emphatic defensive display from us in a tough game. The score line and what I’m saying probably looks like it wasn’t, but we had to work hard.”
One of two changes to the starting 11 from midweek, James Russell came in next to Berry in midfield, and the pair allowed Stirling to get an early grasp on the game.
Geddes added: “James (Russell) has been excellent for us since coming up from the under 20’s, he’s not played much recently from the start, but we know what we will get from James.”
And, building on that defensive structure, it didn’t take long for Geddes to get a response from his side.
Marcus Lavery came inches away from heading in an opener on 14 minutes before Jason Jarvis struck the crossbar ten minutes later.
But, as Stirling were awarded a first penalty of the afternoon on 26 minutes, up stepped the skipper to get the Uni off to the perfect start.
On the stroke of half-time, Berry doubled the lead as the captain converted again from the penalty spot.
A well-weighted long ball into the box from Lavery was chested down by Jarvis, who was bundled over, to set up a 12th goal of the season for the 23-year-old.
After winning a free-kick on the edge of the Gretna box on 83 minutes, Berry would’ve fancied himself to grab a second hat-trick this season, but his effort flew narrowly wide of the far post.
The visitors had scarce possession of the ball in the second half but held on to prevent further damage to the score line as Stirling got back to winning ways in the league.
The Uni travel to Peffermill on Wednesday night, as the students look to complete a much-desired league double over Edinburgh University.
Geddes said: “It’s always a tough game against Edinburgh, I don’t care what anyone says about league position. But, it’s a good place to play on a nice pitch, so we are looking forward to it.”
University of Stirling: Fry, Lavery (Gilmour 45), Burrows, Service, Heal, Berry, Jarvis (Munro 62), Russell, McGill (Mirzasalimov 74), Maciver-Redwood (McAninch 86), Stokes
Gretna FC 2008: Main, Short, Condie, Dickinson, Moyles, Turner, Bell, Muir, Carmichael, Caves, Munro