By John Turnbull at Home Park
A first-half goal-fest saw the University of Stirling run out convincing winners over Coldstream on Tuesday night, to reach the semi-finals of the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup.
The hosts took the lead after 55 seconds, but the students’ quality soon prevailed with five strikes before the break.
With plenty of substitutes from either side after the restart, the goalmouth action dried up, but the East of Scotland side cut the deficit on 66 minutes, as a reward for their hard work.
Head coach Chris Geddes said: “It was a bit of a scrap at times, but I want to give all credit to Coldstream; I thought they were excellent.
“They worked really hard and made it difficult for us, but our quality shown at times to win the penalties and the movement before the goals was excellent.
“It was some start from them, but five goals just like that on half-time and the game was kind of over. We rested some of the boys because we have a big game against Dalbeattie on Saturday now.
“He’s [Jason Jarvis] got class. He’s got so much quality, and alongside the other boys that are leaving, he will be a massive loss to the program, but hopefully, he goes up into the senior ranks because he’s definitely good enough.
“There were some really good performances, big Ben [Maciver-Redwood] didn’t get his goals but he put himself about, Cammy [McKinley] got two goals which is great, and obviously the skipper [James Berry] got another two and he wasn’t letting anyone else hit them – he’s up to 22 goals now.”
With 43 league places between the two sides, Coldstream set out to spring a cup shock and couldn’t have scripted a better start in the Borders.
After just 55 seconds, a cross into the box bounced fortuitously over the Stirling defence and was struck home well on the half volley.
There was no change in the Stirling approach, though, and five minutes later the game was level, as Berry put away his first penalty of the night after McKinley was brought down in the box.
The momentum had fully shifted in Stirling’s favour, and McKinley then got his name on the scoresheet with a quickfire double on 21 and 30 minutes.
Jarvis did superbly down the right to tee up the Uni’s second goal before more magic set up Ciaran McAninch to pull the ball back for McKinley to fire in a third.
The midfielder was soon involved in the first four goals as he headed in his own. A long Euan McGill throw was flicked on, and Jarvis nodded the ball in from close range.
With the last kick of a frantic first half, Berry made it 22 goals for the season as he dispatched a second spot-kick following brave attacking instincts from Maciver-Redwood to draw a foul.
A combination of that hectic opening 45 minutes and several changes from both benches, meant the sting had been taken out of the tie, but Coldstream took a second opportunity after the restart.
The ball was smashed over the Stirling defence, and Ben Fry couldn’t fully parry a low shot away, and the rebound was poked in.
Stirling could afford to make substitutes, though, as the place in next Wednesday’s semi-finals was secured long before the game’s seventh goal.
Geddes’ side will face Dundonald Bluebell at Forthbank, with Sauchie Juniors awaiting the winner in the final.
University of Stirling: Fry, Thompson, Service (Mirzasalimov 58), Burrows (Lavery 45), Berry, Jarvis, Heal, McGill (Stokes 77), McAninch, Maciver-Redwood (Manomey 45), McKinley (Russell 36)