Stirling University 1
Vale of Leithen 0
KING CUP THIRD ROUND
DAVE RYCE reports from Gannochy Sports Centre
GET used to reading about these two sides playing each other.
This was the first of a three-part series that sees Vale and Stirling clash in the King Cup, League and League Cup in successive weeks and the Innerleithen men will be hoping that things can only get better in the next two games.
While the previous week’s exit from the South Region Challenge Cup at the hands of Spartans can safely be filed in the honourable defeats section, this was, despite the narrow-looking scoreline, very much a deserved win for the students.
The goal that settled the tie came in the 10th minute and was virtually out of nothing. As Stirling’s Abraham Keller worked his way across the edge of the Vale box, there seemed to be no imminent danger, but the Swiss striker suddenly let fly on the half-turn with a scorching shot from the 18-yard line, which flew into the corner of the net.
The home side almost added to their lead barely a minute later as an Emmot Parr-Gallagher cross from the left was met by Craig Mason at the back post, but Vale debutant Aaron Killin was handily placed to clear Mason’s header off the line.
Although second best during the first half, Vale started to work harder in the second, with Steven Radzynski sending a shot over from a promising position.
A corner from Jamie Lauder was met at the back post by Paul Lee, but the Vale captain’s shot struck the post and rebounded to safety.
However, most of the action was happening at the other end. Mason was convinced he had grabbed the second as he watched his shot ricochet off Darren Walker and bounce towards goal, but Killin was again Vale’s saviour as he chased back superbly to hook the ball away before it crossed the line.
Stirling were reduced to 10 men for the closing minutes as centre-half Jason Atkins sustained an injury and was forced to depart the action. With all Stirling’s substitutes used up, they faced the final eight minutes a man short.
Vale made a last throw of the dice as they threw on Ricky Miller up front, but they couldn’t find a way through a packed Stirling defence.
Vale of Leithen: D. Walker; C. Beaton, A. Killin, J. Hall, P. Lee, P. Doohan (A. Milligan h-t), A. Martin, J. Lauder, S. Radzynski (G. Hare 65), S. Moffat, G. Cole (R. Miller 87).