Stirling Albion put up a valiant effort against Championship side Raith Rovers in Tuesday night’s Second Round Scottish Cup tie, but in the end didn’t have enough in their armoury to challenge The Rovers.
The Fife side won 2-0 in what was an entertaining match and will now face Livingston in the 3rd round of the cup.
The Binos, are still finding their feet after the two-month COVID-enforced break, so to compete well with Raith, who are having an impressive season, was no mean feat.
Here are Brig Sport’s observations from last night’s game.
Stirling are well organised and hard to beat
The Binos may have conceded two goals in this match, but they were well organised throughout, and limited Raith Rovers’s chances fairly well, particularly in the second half.
The 3-5-2 formation, which we reported on at the weekend, worked well – providing Stirling with a solid defensive base from which to spring into counter attacks. This was best seen in the first half when Jack Leitch did well to set up Kieran Moore on the break, after finding space in behind full back Reghan Tumilty, who was pushing up for much of the game.
If Stirling can translate this balance into the league, they will have every chance of pushing Queen’s Park all the way, or at worst finishing second in the league.
New Binos fitted in well
Stirling Albion have been one of many League One and League Two clubs to dip into the loan market and bring in players from the Lowland League, West of Scotland League and East of Scotland League – which are still suspended due to Covid-19.
Daryl Meggatt, Jordan Allan and Jordan Kirkpatrick all joined from the ambitious Darvel side, and all played their part in Tuesday night’s game.
Meggatt was particularly impressive on his debut, lining up alongside Kyle Banner and Aldin El Zubaidi as part of a back three. His experience playing in the Championship with Alloa and Dundee, will stand Stirling in good stead as they aim for promotion this year, and he fitted in seamlessly on Tuesday night.
Allan and Kirkpatrick were second half substitutes and looked the part too. Stirling now have a deep, and strong, squad for the business end of the season.
Raith’s Diamond worked but needs polishing
Raith Rovers manager John McGlynn set his side up in a 4-4-2 diamond for this game which saw a fluid midfield with Kai Kennedy in a free role behind Jamie Gullan and goalscorer Gozie Ugwu up front.
Kennedy was a constant pest for the Stirling defence, and the Rangers loanee played the role well, finding gaps in behind the strikers to get shots off, as well as drawing a number of fouls from the opposition players who couldn’t deal with his trickery.
At times the system led to a lack of width for Raith, making it difficult to penetrate the Stirling defence – and easier for the Stirling defenders to deal with.
However, once Raith got fullbacks Reghan Tumilty and Kieran MacDonald engaged in play, the visitors were able to get in behind Stirling at ease. Their second goal came from a pinpoint Reghan Tumilty cross which was headed home by the impressive Dylan Tait.
This is a system which could bear fruit for Raith – if they are willing to stick with the teething issues.
Jamie Gullan will hit a purple patch for Raith
On-loan Hibs striker Jamie Gullan didn’t have his shooting boots on for Raith in Tuesday night’s game, but he was a constant threat for the away side.
Gullan, who is in his third spell with The Rovers, was impressive throughout, finding space to get shots away.
He was unlucky not to score, and on another day would have had a couple of goals to his name.
If he keeps getting himself in these positions, he will add more goals to his game, and help Raith in their fight for promotion to the Premiership.
Stirling can now focus fully on league
While nobody wants to lose a Scottish Cup game, this loss could prove to be a blessing in disguise for Stirling, as they embark on their campaign for promotion to League One.
In a season end which is already saturated with games, having one less competition to worry could prove to be a positive.
Albion can take hope from their performance too, against what is a very impressive Raith Rovers team.
The real test begins now, and on Tuesday night’s showing, Stirling are ready for battle at the top of League Two.
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