Lothian Thistle HV 0
Stirling University 1
The students of Stirling University picked up all three points although they had their goalkeeper, Kevin Walker, to thank as he made two magnificent saves in the closing minutes. Walker denied Ross Elliot and Jason Cummins to help his side hang on while Kevin Lee hit the crossbar with a 30-yard strike .
Stirling University are the current Central Taxis Premier Division champions and were unbeaten in all games this season before arriving at Saughton Enclosure. After the game the Lothian Thistle manager, Grant Carnie, said: “I feel that we should have taken something out of the game but that is why they are champions – they just keep going and going right to the end and that’s how you win leagues.
“I thought their goalkeeper was brilliant and he had three or four unbelievable saves. We had enough chances to win the game in the second half and I felt that we matched them. They are a great team who I think will go on and win the league again. It’s maybe a bit early to say that but I do think that they have enough quality.”
The students took the lead in the ninth minute when a long diagonal ball caught the Lothian defence flat-footed and Chris Geddes made space wide on the left before rolling the ball into the path of Liam Corr who calmly dispatched it into the net from 14 yards. However, Lothian had a 20-yard shot from Stephen Anderson which went narrowly over the bar then Elliot had two good efforts and Alan McDonaugh charged down a Walker clearance to earn a corner. At the other end Paul Sludden, Lee Nichol and Geddes all tested Swain.
The second half began with Elliot bringing out a superb one-handed save from Walker then Lee hit the crossbar with a ferocious 30 yards drive before Cummins had claims for a penalty waved aside. Cummins, at only 17 years old, looked assured on his debut and was unlucky to watch an 18-yard shot squirm over the bar. He then brought another spectacular save from Walker when his left foot curling shot was bound for the top corner until the Stirling goalkeeper made an acrobatic dive to turn the ball for a corner. Lothian finished the game on top but were unable to breach a solid Stirling defence.
Carnie added: “Only once during the game did Stirling really catch us out and that was at the goal. That was very frustrating because in the second half we did so well. In the first half we showed Stirling too much respect and were kind of in awe of them with their passing and movement. But in the second half I don’t think they had a clear-cut chance. I told the boys at half-time to take the game to Stirling and enjoy your football. I keep saying to our players that we are a good team, we have great passers and boys who are good on the ball. That showed in the second half. All in all, we should have got something from the game.” Eddie May, the Stirling University head coach, said: “That was a very difficult 90 minutes. We have played Lothian twice in the Premier Division this season and been fortunate to come out with two good results. Lothian are a good team, very competitive, young and try to do the right things. We were not fantastic but that is no disrespect to Lothian. In the first half we had better movement while in the second Lothian ended up playing with four up front and that made it difficult although our back four just had to deal with that situation.
“I thought that Lothian were very good and caused us a few problems so they deserve the plaudits for their performance.”
Lothian Thistle HV: Swain, Hawkins, Anderson, Kane, Costello, Crawford, MacDonald (McDonaugh 28), Connolly, Dignan (Cummins 70), Elliot, Lee. Subs: Perry, Handley, McColl.
Stirling University: Walker, Nixon, Sutherland, Atkins, Drummond, Nichol (Dale 73), Mason, Robertson, Geddes, Corr (McWhirter 90), Sludden (Burns 83). Subs: Parish, Marshall.
Referee: Sean Carr