Edinburgh City earn deserved draw with fightback at Stirling

John Dunn and Cameron Blues of Edinburgh City battle with Neil McLaughlin of Stirling Albion. Pic: Stewart Attwood
John Dunn and Cameron Blues of Edinburgh City battle with Neil McLaughlin of Stirling Albion. Pic: Stewart Attwood
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There was nothing between Edinburgh City and Stirling Albion once more as the sides played out another 2-2 draw at Forthbank.

City went ahead early through the Stirling-born Graham Taylor, only for Stirling to turn things round. Darren Smith levelled on his 30th birthday with his 25th of the season. Ross Smith then headed them in to the lead shortly after half-time. City weren’t to be denied what was a deserved point, however, as Farid El Alagui headed their second with 20 minutes remaining.

The lack of numbers available to James McDonaugh was illustrated by the sparsity of his bench – just four players, including substitute goalkeeper Fraser Morton, youngsters Kieran Watson and Calum Hall, plus a trialist.

The opening ten minutes produced a half-chance for either side. El Alagui beat the offside trap – it appeared in the eyes of the assistant only – but Stirling managed to get enough men back to block his shot.

At the other end, Daniel Jardine aimed a cross towards Ross McGeachie, but Calum Antell was able to punch clear.

City then got the opener soon after and Binos keeper Craig Wight won’t want to see it again. He was charged down by Taylor after receiving a pass back and the on-loan Dundee United striker’s persistence won him the break of the ball, leaving the simplest of tasks to walk in his second City goal.

The hosts responded well, however, and were level after 22 minutes. Andy Little’s positive run down the left took him to the byline and past a challenge from Garcia Tena before cutting back for Smith, whose finish was about as simple as Taylor’s from a yard out.

Albion were inches from going ahead on the half-hour, although whether Sean Dickson meant to shoot or not was debatable. He whipped what looked like a vicious, in-swinging cross from the left that sailed over Antell and crashed back off the inside of the post.

Taylor then had a great chance for his and City’s second. Marc Laird slid a through ball in behind and the number 17 outpaced Smith and Banner, but telegraphed his finish somewhat and Wight was able to read his intentions.

An audacious attempt from Ashley Grimes almost caught out Wight again. The former Man City man spotted the keeper off his line and sent a chip over his head from the centre circle, only to see it drift wide of the left-hand post.

Stirling completed the turnaround 11 minutes after the restart when Smith rose highest to meet Sean Dickson’s corner from the right and head low past Antell in to the bottom corner.

He almost repeated the trick to put his side in control, but saw his header kept out by a combination of Antell and the crossbar.

Having weathered that mini storm, City responded with an equaliser. Calum Hall was fouled on the right and the free-kick delivery from the trialist was met by El Alagui, who glanced past Wight for 2-2.

The visitors were well in the ascendency by this point and Gareth Rodger’s angled cross picked out the trialist, whose header back across goal just lacked the direction to hit the target.

There was to be no more scoring as both teams were forced to settle for an identical result to the corresponding fixture ten days previously.

Stirling Albion: Wight, McGeachie, Noble, Smith, Banner, Moon, McLaughlin (Kavanagh 80), Jardine, Little (MacDonald 70), Smith, Dickson.

Edinburgh City: Antell, McKee (Hall 45), Laird, Blues, Grimes (Trialist 66), Rodger, Taylor (Watson 90), El Alagui, Dunn, Garcia Tena, Scullion.

Referee: Craig Napier.