Stirling edged in National football final

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After a dominant second-half performance, the University of Stirling’s Men’s First football team fell short of being crowned National Champions on Big BUCS Wednesday.

Stirling could only pull one back in the second half through Ciaran McAninch’s goal after trailing 2-0 at half-time to Durham University.

Head coach Chris Geddes said: “Yeah, gutted. First half, we were poor, but we still had some good play – it wasn’t like they were smashing us.

“Second half, we absolutely battered them, and just couldn’t get that second goal, but fair play to Durham – they defended really well.

“They didn’t deserve to win that game on chances and possession etc, but they took their chances when they came, and we never took ours.

“We at Stirling Uni know we are the best team in BUCS, three years, three titles, and only a couple of losses – we don’t need that to tell us that.

“But, obviously, that’s a good reward for some of these players who have grafted – Matty has been here for five years, and James [Berry], Euan [McGill], Jason [Jarvis], and Jamie [Thompson], who have been here for four years.

“That would’ve been a good achievement, but it wasn’t to be our day. We know we are a good side, and on another day we could’ve won it, but credit to Durham.”

For the third consecutive season, Stirling had become BUCS Premier North champions, providing a well-deserved opportunity for a run leading to the coveted final in Nottingham.

One loss in ten league matches was built upon in the knockout stages with quarter and semi-final wins over Nottingham Trent and Nottingham University, respectively.

Unfortunately, a poor start against a solid Durham side, that Stirling had already beat, was enough to prevent sufficient reward for a dominant season in University competition.

It wasn’t a start without Stirling chances, though, as McAninch struck over the bar from close range after three minutes before Jarvis had a volley tipped wide of the post shortly after.

But, in between those opportunities, Durham had grabbed a nerve-settling opener. Tom Hizzett got the ball out of his feet on the left of the penalty area and picked out the far corner.

It soon turned into the worst possible start for Stirling, as at 29 minutes, Zach Alfalahi cut inside and was perhaps slightly fortunate to see his powerful effort hit the back of the net.

Right from the restart, the mountain needing climbed quickly looked scaleable, as Geddes’ side eventually pulled one back after coming close on numerous occasions.

On his sought-after return to action, James Stokes backheeled the ball to Jarvis, who teed up McAninch on the edge, and the midfielder’s strike was placed well into the far corner.

The attacking pressure persisted until the final whistle, but more chances passed without the decisive touch as Stirling came agonisingly close to an equaliser.

Aided by a touch of good fortune, Durham defended well to see the game out. 

Ultimately, triumph felt deserved for some of Stirling’s most successful footballers who looked to cap their four years and three Premier North titles with British glory, but in the end, it wasn’t to be.

University of Stirling: Godik, Lavery, Service, Burrows, McAninch (Rae 76), Russell (Stokes 45), Berry, Heal, Jarvis, McKinley, Maciver-Redwood

Durham University: Arnold, Camarda, England, Gibbons, Keogh, Merrett, White, Garagic, Gwillim, Alfalahi, Hizzet

Featured Image Credit: Flynn Duggan

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