By Connor Ryan
Albion Rovers starting XI: 1. Ross Connelly 2. Adam Fernie 3. Scott Dunn 5. Sean Fagan © 8. Dominic McMahon 9. Niyah Joseph 12. Alan Reid 14. Joe Bevan 16. Barry Duncan 20. Bright Prince 21. Conor Duffy
Subs: 17. Fraser Walker 4. Arnie Kasa 6. Callum Wilson (replaced Alan Reid on 61’) 10. Alex McCaw (replaced McMahon on 82’) 11. Tylar Denholm (replaced Bright Prince on 70’) 18. Reece Paterson 19. Josh Tran
Stirling University starting XI: 1. Yan Gromov Godik 2. Ben Heal 3. Alex Jeanes 4. Isa Aslanoglu 5. Marcus Lavery 6. James Russell 7. Shea Scally 8. Ciaran Mcaninch 9. Ben MacIver-Redwood 10. Cammy McKinlay 11. James Stokes
Subs: 21. Jay Maxwell Davila 19. Luke Morris 16. James Malcolm (replaced Marcus Lavery on 72’) 20. Ben Woloszyn (replaced James Stokes on 77’) 12. Jack Docherty (replaced Maciver-Redwood on 72’) 14. Thomas Vonk (replaced James Russell on 66’) 18. Buronbek Mirzasalimov 15. Abel Manomey (replaced Cammy McKinley on 77’) 17. Creag Robertson
Rovers grabbed their Scottish Cup revenge on Stirling University with an emphatic 3-1 first round win at Forthbank stadium.
Goals from Bright Prince, Joe Bevan. And Niyah Joseph secured the win for Rovers as we advance into the second round to face St. Andrews United at home.
Both teams came into this Scottish Cup tie on mixed form with Stirling University not securing a win since the 23rd of August while Rovers form was up and down.
Either side had also not played for a lengthy period with Stirling University last playing almost two weeks ago while Rovers hadn’t played for just over a week.
The previous encounters between the sides had seen Stirling University famously become the first University side to reach the fourth round of the Scottish Cup with an extra time triumph over Rovers at Cliftonhill in the third round of last year’s Scottish Cup.
Rovers looked to have gotten the upper hand over Stirling University in the first league meeting this season as we were 2-0 up with 15 minutes to play, but a late comeback from the University side including a last-minute equaliser seen the game end 2-2.
Both sides came into this Scottish Cup tie separated only by a single point with Stirling University residing in 15th while Rovers sat in 13th, although we do have between two to five games in hand on other sides in the league.
Despite a quiet start to the game, it wouldn’t take long for Ross Connelly to be called into action in the Rovers net as he pulled off a brilliant save to keep the score at 0-0.
Adam Fernie looked to have given Rovers the lead on the 19th minute as his audacious overhead kick found the back of the net, but the linesman flagged for offside which was spotted in the build-up.
The halfway mark of the first half would see both sides threaten, with Conor Duffy’s ball from the left-hand side whizzed across the box but sadly wasn’t able to find any takers.
Minutes later, Duffy would become the first Rovers player to enter the referees book following his challenge on James Stokes at the right-hand side of the Rovers box.
Niyah Joseph would be next to go close for Rovers as Bright Prince’s great hold up play down the left-hand side of the Stirling University box allowed him to find Joseph arriving who’s shot was well saved by Yan Gromov Godik.
Entering into the dying minutes of the first half, Rovers would get the first goal of the game as Bright Prince would bundle home the ball following a massive scramble in the University box, giving Rovers a 1-0 lead going into the break.
The resulting free kick would be well saved and cleared by Ross Connelly following a dangerous ball into the box.
The last actions of the half would see Niyah Joseph’s free kick on the edge of the box curl harmlessly into the arms of Godik, while Stirling University would get their best chance of the half from a free kick of their own as Ciaran Mcaninch’s brilliant free kick cannoned off the Rovers crossbar on the stroke of half time.
Following the start of the second half, Barry Duncan would become the second Rovers player to be booked following a shove in the middle of the park in order to stop a Stirling University counterattack in the 50th minute.
Just a minute later, Stirling University would find their equaliser after a scramble in the box found it’s way to Shea Scally on the edge of the box whose superb strike flew into the net leaving Connelly with no chance despite his best efforts.
This strike gave Stirling University confidence however it would be Rovers who would come flying out on the attack as Fernie’s low cross found Prince in the middle of the box but his fancy backheel effort was unfortunately too much to be dangerous for the goalkeeper.
Despite this, Rovers found themselves in front just a minute later as Joe Bevan dribbled towards the Stirling University box and sent a rocket of a strike past Godik to once again put Rovers into a 2-1 lead in the 57th minute.
Rovers would give themselves a two-goal advantage with a fantastic team goal as Alan Reid found Prince who could have played the ball back to Bevan but instead sent a low ball into the box and expertly picked out Joseph whose low strike was smashed by Godik putting Rovers 3-1 up.
Stirling University ramped up the pressure following Rovers double salvo as Connelly pulled off another outstanding save to turn an effort onto the post as it looked as though Stirling University were going to get back in the game.
The first Rovers substitution of the game would see Prince forced off due to injury as he was replaced by Tylar Denholm on the 70th minute.
Another substitution for Rovers would follow in the 82nd minute as Dom McMahon was replaced by Alex McCaw.
The last actions for Rovers would see Alex McCaw through on goal in the 90th minute as he almost made an instant impact, but his effort was superbly blocked off the line by Isa Aslanoglu to keep the score at 3-1.
Niyah Joseph would be the last Rovers player to enter the referee’s book following a kick out during a Stirling University counterattack which was brought to a halt following numerous challenges in the midfield.
The full-time whistle would blow following Joseph’s booking as we advance into the next round after a tough and exciting encounter against Stirling University.
All focus now shifts towards Tranent Juniors at Cliftonhill on Saturday with a 3pm kick off as we look to get some more points on the board and advance up the Lowland league table.
Our Scottish Cup second round fixture against St Andrews United will take place on the weekend of the 28th of October at Cliftonhill. Further details on this match will be released nearer the time.
Man of the Match: Joe Bevan
Goal scorers: Bright Prince, Shea Scally, Joe Bevan, Niyah Joseph
Bookings: Barry Duncan, Niyah Joseph, Conor Duffy, Thomas Vonk
Credit to Phil Dawson for images used and to BBC Scotland for the goal highlights