Stirling University 4
Vale of Leithen 2
EoS PREMIER DIVISION
DAVE RYCE reports from Gannochy Sports Centre
THE four previous meetings between these sides, since Stirling joined the East of Scotland League, had featured a total of just eight goals, so it was something of a surprise that this one manufactured six.
But, unfortunately, the goal-rush had less to do with flashes of skilful brilliance and more to do with some languid defending.
The homesters started strongly and took the lead after just six minutes of play, as Jason Atkins was afforded a touch more freedom than he needed to head home a Mark McCullach cross from close range.
In the 36th minute, Stirling doubled their lead when Liam Corr caught the Vale defence square with a superb ball through to Michael Pentland, who found himself with only keeper Darren Walker to beat and duly found the corner of the net.
Vale rang the changes at the break, with Paul Doohan and Graeme Cole making way for David Anderson and Steve Radzynski, in what was a much more positive formation.
Vale had already struggled to cope with the set-pieces of a well-drilled Stirling side and nine minutes into the second half, the Innerleithen men were left with a huge task to get back into the game as Atkins notched his second, making a late run into the area to glance a Corr free kick into the far corner.
But giving up was not on the agenda as the Borderers fought back impressively and grabbed a goal on the hour mark when Lauder flighted a free kick over a static Stirling defence and substitute Anderson got on the end of it to guide a header into the net.
Any prospect of a dramatic Vale fightback was killed off in the 76th minute with a fourth goal for the Students.
It was disappointing how easily Corr was allowed to run unchallenged across the edge of the area, but that is to take nothing away from the winger who produced a great finish to cap an outstanding performance.
A couple of minutes later Vale pulled back another, Radzynski getting on the end of another Lauder free kick to head in as the home defence was once again posted missing.
Stirling went straight up the other end and almost restored their three-goal cushion but Walker made a fine stop, pushing Corr’s shot away. Craig Mason was following up, but Andy Milligan was on the line to hook the effort away.
Vale of Leithen: D. Walker, A. Milligan, J. Lauder, J. Hall, P. Lee, P. Greenhill, D. Gillon, K. Dodds, S. Moffat, P. Doohan (S. Radzynski 46), G. Cole (D. Anderson 46).