The University of Stirling Men’s football team lost in a gut-wrenching fashion against Celtic B on a rainy afternoon at the Excelsior Stadium.
Substitutes Michael Frame and Jude Bonnar combined well to sink Stirling late on.
Head Coach Chris Geddes said: “[It was] really disappointing obviously to lose the game first and foremost. As expected, Celtic had the majority of the ball but we still hurt them, we had chances.
“We had a couple in the first half that we should’ve been better with and one we should’ve scored, and in the second half we had a couple as well, but we didn’t take them… We got killed.
“One cross from the left and we weren’t marking… a good header from the sub, but still.
“For the defensive effort, the off-the-ball shape and stuff, we didn’t deserve to lose.”
From the outset, Celtic B took a stranglehold of the game and started dominating possession.
Celtic wide players Bruno Davidson and Magnus Mackenzie were pinning Stirling’s wing backs back, suppressing any counter explosion from Ben Heal and James Stokes.
A lot of attacks came from those wings, but Stirling defended them well, with Yan Gromov Godik making several big saves in the opening 20 minutes.
For all their possession and pretty play, the hosts went closest to scoring from an outrageous 30-yard chip from Rocco Vata. Only the crossbar could prevent the Irishmen from getting the opener.
But Stirling did have several chances of their own. McAninch went close with a volley at the back post and a brilliant cross from Russell was begging for any connection, but the ball just escaped the onrushing Docherty.
Celtic find late breakthrough
From halftime, Celtic continued to push for an opener, and they looked certain to score in the 52nd minute.
It was a chaotic frenzy in the box, with bodies flying everywhere. Lewis Dobbie had his initial shot blocked, he then got it back and set it up for Vata, but again a heroic goal-line clearance from the students kept the score at 0-0.
Isa Aslanoglu thought he had put the Uni ahead, after latching onto another brilliant Russell delivery and nestling the ball into the top right, but the linesman called it back for offside. Unfortunately, no VAR in the Lowland League so the game stayed level.
From there, the game got back into the familiar pattern of Celtic trying to pick apart the valiant Stirling defence with their high press and switching the play.
Substitute Jude Bonnar found himself with acres of space in the penalty area and headed home across Yan’s goal to serve a gut punch to the students. A short lapse of concentration served another reminder of the margins involved at this level.
Stirling still had life in the last ten minutes with several set pieces in dangerous positions, but they couldn’t make the most of them.
This now makes it 5 games without a win, an unwanted streak that the team will want to end as soon as possible.
Next up for the University is the BUCS Premier North opener against Durham, at 1 pm on Wednesday at Forthbank Stadium.
University of Stirling: Gromov Godik, Heal, Jeanes, Aslanoglu, Russell (Woloszyn 80), Scally, Stokes (Morris 13), Docherty (Vonk 63), McAninch (Robertson 80), McKinlay, MacIver-Redwood (Malcolm 63)
Featured Image credit: George Vekic