By John Turnbull at Forthbank
A 3-0 win over Blackburn United booked the University of Stirling’s place in the Quarter Finals of the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup on Wednesday night.
For a second consecutive game at Forthbank, Stirling took an early lead when Archie Munro scored his first goal of the season.
Euan McGill added his name to the scoresheet as he doubled the Uni lead on the stroke of half-time before James Berry capped a comfortable display.
Assistant head coach Sean Roycroft said: “It was a good performance, we played really well at times, and we got a professional performance.
“It could’ve been one of those tricky nights, but we got an early goal and then scored right before the end of the half, which knocked the stuffing out of them [Blackburn] tonight.
“We were on top for most of the first half, so we deserved it [the second goal], it had been a long time coming, and it was a great time to score.”
Stirling only had to wait four days to return to action at Forthbank after a 4-0 brushing aside of Hearts B, and it took only four minutes to go ahead on Wednesday.
Ben Maciver-Redwood held the ball up superbly and set up Cammy McKinley for a shot at goal, but it was parried to Munro on the penalty spot, and he volleyed home.
McKinley had another effort with his left foot midway through the first half, although it curled just wide of the far post.
The Uni’s dominance deserved a cushion, and James Stokes’ cross found its way to McGill, who was unmarked at the back post to tap in a second.
With 20 minutes played in the second period, Stirling’s third goal was a 20th goal of the season for the captain, James Berry.
The East of Scotland Premier side could only clear Berry’s corner back out to him, and his second delivery flew over the Blackburn goalkeeper into the far corner.
Aside from his goals, Roycroft wasted no time acknowledging Berry’s importance after the game.
He said: “However lucky tonight’s goal was, whether it was a cross or not he might beg to differ, it’s his 20th of the season, and his all-round game has been really important to us this season for his consistency and what he gives us in the middle of the park.
“The way we play, we leave our back three to it sometimes, so having someone in the middle that can be nice and safe for us and control the game is really good.”
An in-form Calum Rae almost found a fourth with a well-timed effort late on, as he looked for a seventh goal in as many games, but the damage was dealt, and Stirling will now face Coldstream next Tuesday.
Before that, though, the students head to Caledonian Braves on Saturday for the final Lowland League game this term.
Roycroft added: “It’s been a long, hard season in the Lowland League, but we can’t get caught by the teams below us, so it gives us the opportunity to go out and enjoy it, and hopefully put on one last show.”
University of Stirling: Fry, Service (McAninch 76), Burrows, Thompson, Heal, Berry, McGill (Bainbridge 64), Munro (Rae 64), Stokes (Mirzasalimov 76), McKinley (Manomey 76), Maciver-Redwood