By Andrew Robson at The Forthbank
The University of Stirling beat West Calder United in the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup on a night when the first team was split in half, playing two matches simultaneously.
At the Forthbank a second-half strike from Cameron McKinley was enough to overcome a resilient away side, with keeper Callum Peace producing a series of top saves to keep them in the game.
Meanwhile, at the Gannochy assistant coach, Sean Roycroft took charge as Stirling defeated Glasgow University 5-1 in the Queens Park Shield semi-final.
After victory in both matches, head coach Chris Geddes said: “This is a first for me.
“I trust the coaches I’ve got, Sean [Roycroft], Nuno [Almeida] and [Haepyeong] Jeong went to the Gannochy.
“I trusted Sean, I didn’t tell him how to do anything, we just told him the line-up and he coached it – and it sounds like he did it very well.”
“It’s a good night, it’s pretty unique.”
At the Forthbank the Uni started brightly, pinning United in their half as they struggled to get out. Archie Munro went close cutting inside from the left, but his curling effort was tipped over by Peace.
On the right, James Stokes looked lively on his first start since returning from injury.
But after the early Uni pressure, West Calder would have a chance of their own. The ball fell to Jason Gregory in the box, but he could only blaze over.
Jack Docherty and Cameron McKinley linked well leading the line, as Docherty was twice denied by a combination of strong defending and top goalkeeping.
In the second half, Stirling began strongly, as McKinley’s pass sent Ben Heal towards the goal, but Peace made another excellent save to maintain the deadlock. The keeper then produced a very similar save minutes later to deny Munro.
Despite the away team’s determined defence, they were finally beaten in the 58th minute when McKinley latched on to a quickly taken free kick and ran into the box. After performing a couple of stepovers, the striker switched to his left foot and placed the ball in the bottom corner of the net.
McKinley had the chance to score his second moments after, but the recovering Hassan Nyang produced an excellent last-ditch sliding tackle.
West Calder made a late push, and their efforts almost paid off when Jake Service cleared the ball off the goal line.
In the final moments of the game, substitute Liam Whyte had a chance to equalise from a corner, but could only head over.
Following the win, Geddes wasted no time in commending the visitors, who forfeited their home advantage to ensure the fixture was fulfilled after Saturday’s postponement. He said: “It was a good one-nil win, we had lots of opportunities and their goalie made three or four really good saves.
“But I want to give credit to West Calder, they dug in and they had some really good last-ditch defending in their box, and they did have chances – they had a couple of good ones.
“On another night they might have scored and made it difficult.”
Next up is a journey to Ainslie Park to face The Spartans in the South Challenge Cup quarter-final.
University of Stirling: Gromov, Service, Bainbridge (Torregianni 88’), Morris, Robertson, Russell, Heal, Munro, Stokes, Docherty (Moffett 65’), McKinley.
West Calder: Peace, Stevenson, Nyang, Fallon, Morgan, Baillie, Baird, Gregory, Livingstone, Jackson, Wilkins.