Stirling strike late to reach East of Scotland Qualifying Cup final 

By John Turnbull at Forthbank 

The University of Stirling scored twice in the last 15 minutes to beat Dundonald Bluebell 3-1 on Wednesday night and set up a third cup final of the season. 

Either side could’ve opened the scoring in the first half, but Ben Heal put the Uni in front straight after the restart before Ross Brown equalised for the visitors 20 minutes later. 

The next goal looked likely to be decisive, and Stirling took the opportunity as Maciver-Redwood headed in, with James Russell sealing progression shortly after. 

Head coach Chris Geddes said: “First half was even, Dundonald will feel they should’ve been up, but Ben [Fry] made some good saves. 

“But second half, we dominated and are delighted to get into another final. It’s a really good feeling for the boys. 

“They [Dundonald] are a strong, experienced team, and the first goal was crucial. For the first 23 minutes of the second half, they didn’t trouble us at all and then got their goal. 

“Dundonald ran out of steam a bit, so had to drop in, but credit to those boys, they worked really hard, and there was some outstanding defending.” 

“Credit to my guys as well, that was game 69 of the season, and for a squad of 20, that’s pretty impressive in my book.”  

In the end Stirling’s fitness and quality prevailed, but Dundonald ensured the Uni had to work hard and almost caught the students out right after kick-off. 

Former Stirling footballer Kieran Hall forced Ben Fry into a smart save on 3 minutes, as the forward latched onto a misplaced back pass but couldn’t convert. 

The Uni goalkeeper was again called into action after half an hour, as a deflected clearance off Hall needed a reaction stop to prevent the visitors from taking the lead. 

From then on, the game was largely controlled by the students and Maciver-Redwood was inches away from striking on the stroke of half-time, but dragged his shot narrowly wide. 

Ben Heal, who scored the opener, back in action (Credit: George Vekic)

Stirling got off to a perfect start in the second half, though, and Maciver-Redwood was involved again as he cut the ball back to Heal, who found the far corner. 

Fellow midfielder Ciaran McAninch almost doubled the lead but saw his volley smash off the crossbar, and Ross Brown then brought the game level after finishing off a well-worked move at the back post. 

The goal came against the run of play, although Stirling’s perseverance paid off as Maciver-Redwood headed in his 20th goal of the season, capping another strong individual performance. 

Russell then made sure the Lowland League high-flyers took their place in the final, as the fourth-year student found the corner with a well-struck effort from the edge of the box on 81 minutes. 

Stirling will run out for a 70th game of the season on Saturday, with a quarter-final Lowland League Cup tie against Cowdenbeath proving another chance to have a run at more silverware. 

Geddes added: “We have a big game Saturday now and a cup final to look forward to. 

“That’s going to be really tough against Sauchie Juniors, who finished second in the East of Scotland [Premier Division], so it’ll be a good occasion, and we are looking forward to it.” 

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