University of Stirling vs Blackburn United
University of Stirling 2 (Burrows 30mins, Heath 81mins)
Blackburn United 1 (McQuillan 57mins)
Forthbank Stadium in Stirling offered an immaculate playing surface for the teams in this First Round Football Nation Cup tie and it was United who took advantage of the fine conditions first when a period of controlled possession lead to a Craig Young corner that was just out of the reach of James Mildren. A second corner shortly thereafter from the same player was then half cleared and from around the edge of the area Mildren lofted a clever effort just a little too high and just a little too wide. A long ball forward then found play at the other end and when John Drummond didn’t get his headed clearance quite right Baird’s opportunist hitch-kick crept past the left hand upright. However, it was a similar ball not so long after that saw the students edge in front, goalkeeper Allan launching a high one that Baird did well to head on and when BURROWS got onto the knock down he was clever enough to instantly lift the ball over the outrushing Jonny Clements to give the debutant Blackburn No.1 no chance of preventing the opener.
With the limping Callum Robertson off to be replaced by Andy McQuillan at the start of the second half United posed an early threat when Danny Campbell wriggled free on the right, but when McQuillan tried to control his resultant cross on his chest Allan was quickly from his line to deny him a shooting chance. However, moments later that shooting chance was to come and when it arrived at the end of neat work between David Howe and Campbell it resulted in McQUILLAN angling a drive past the ‘keeper and in at the left hand post for the equaliser. George Bonnar, making his first appearance of the season, then set out on a driving run from his full-back position to give McQuillan another shooting opportunity but this time Allan was the equal to his powerfully hit half-volley. With Blackburn continuing to look the more likely, Campbell then found Callum McDowall who tricked his way past Doan but when his cross was headed goalward by Take Hirooka the looping effort was plucked from the air by Allan. The winning goal, though, was to arrive at the other end just nine minutes from time when a sweeping Jarvis pass from right to left caught Bonnar out and, at the second attempt, ex-Blackburn man HEATH drilled a low one past Clements. Some unsavoury celebrations from the Stirling bench then resulted in a coming together of several parties in front of the Stirling dug-out which ended when unused United substitute Marty Lawrie was sent packing. Rather surprisingly, none of the antagonists from the home bench were similarly punished. Four minutes from time Heath headed over a McGale cross when it looked like he might very well have put a gloss on the scoreline for his side and, some sixty seconds later, McDowall became the second Blackburn player to see red when his forearm appeared to catch a Uni player as he tried to shield the ball from his attentions, the home players somewhat dramatic reaction sealing the wide players fate.
Blackburn United line-up: Clements, Bonnar (L.Devine 82), S.Devine, Mildren, Drummond, Kane (Hirooka 57), Howe, Young, Robertson (McQuillan 46), Campbell, McDowall Subs (not used): Lawrie, Welsh, Mackay, Mitchell
University of Stirling line-up: Allan, Mailer, Quigley, Downie, Doan, Bremner, Kennedy, Heath, Baird, Burrows, McGale Subs: Berry, Brown, Jarvis, Peden, Webb, Penker, Adamson
Referee: Mr. S.Luke
Assistants: Mr. T.Martin & Mr. R.Macartney