By Andrew Robson at Alliance Park
The University of Stirling fell to defeat in their final game of the Lowland League season against the Caledonian Braves.
Braves striker Ross McNeil scored the only goal of the afternoon in a game of few chances. The students had already secured a fourth-place finish going into the game as head coach Chris Geddes made six changes to the starting line-up.
After the defeat, Geddes said: “It wasn’t a great spectacle today and it had an end-of-season feel to it.
“Fair play to Caley Braves, they took the one chance that both teams had, and neither keeper had a real save to make.
“Today was disappointing for us but the season as a whole has been unbelievable.”
The Uni started on top, as Heal and Mirzasalimov linked up down the right-hand side and fired a low cross into Lowland League debutant Abel Manomey, who fired wide.
But after early Stirling pressure in the opening 20, it was the Braves who dictated the play and began to enjoy more possession of the ball.
The hosts’ patience was rewarded when a clearance up the field found Ross McNeil who raced through one-on-one and placed his shot past Ben Fry.
In a game of limited opportunities, McNeil’s goal was ultimately decisive.
Not long after the restart, Stirling made four changes and the fresh legs appeared to swing the momentum back in favour of the students. However, opportunities to score remained scarce.
Late in the second half both sides had shouts for a penalty. First, the hosts felt the referee should have awarded a spot-kick when the ball stuck Thompson on the hand and minutes later the students also protested when Matty Burrows was wrestled to the ground off the ball in the box.
Despite a frustrating afternoon, Stirling had already secured a fourth-place finish this season, second if you remove the B Teams. Reflecting on the season as a whole, Geddes said that it was ‘unbelievable’ what his side have achieved.
Looking ahead to Tuesday’s trip to Coldstream in the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup Geddes said: “It’s going to be a tough one down there, I’ve never been before, it’s a big game for them and it’s a big game for us.
“It’s a chance to get into a semi-final, no matter what cup it is a chance to get in a semi-final is a big deal and it’s one we’re taking really seriously.”
Kick-off is 7:30pm at Home Park.
Caledonian Braves: White, Guthrie, Wright, Brown, Forrester, Stewart, Butterworth, Lindsay, Lindsay, McNeil, Watson, Main.
University of Stirling: Fry, Burrows, Service, Thompson, Heal, Grooms (Jarvis 52’), Rae, Bainbridge (Berry 52’), McAninch (McGill 75’), Mirzasalimov (Maciver-Redwood), Manomey (McKinley 52’).