Our U20 side are through to the third round of the Scottish FA Youth Cup thanks to a 4-0 win away to Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale on Friday night.
Reg McLaren scored an early double at the Meggetland Sports Complex in Edinburgh and Ryan Lockie added the third with a deflected free-kick.
Fellow defender Kyle Banner netted a late fourth goal with a header to seal a comfortable win for Andy Todd’s team. There were debuts as substitutes for 15-year-olds Jamie Conlon and Connor Preston, who are part of our U17 squad.
A younger than usual U20 side travelled to Meggetland Sports Complex on Friday night looking to progress to the third round of the Youth Cup after a bye in the previous round. Andy Todd’s team lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with recent acquisition Dillon Young making his debut.
The boys were lively from the start through Alberto Vezza, his dangerous dribbling yielding a penalty after nine minutes. Striker Reg McLaren coolly dispatched the spot-kick into the right side of the net.
Stirling continued to press forward, playing some neat exchanges before Ryan Lockie sent a defence-splitting pass to McLaren, who beat the opposition keeper to the ball and finished with ease for his second goal of the game.
The young Binos were flying. Midfielder Justin Watson exemplified the players’ confidence by nearly assisting a team-mate after some neat dribbling in the box, as well as striking the post after expertly controlling a cross-field pass on 20 minutes.
The hosts were struggling to make an impression on the game. Their most threatening phase of play of the first half came after 38 minutes, as some well-worked passing on the right resulted in Stirling goalkeeper Ronan Fallens rushing out to save a goal-bound shot.
Albion went back on the offensive immediately. Lockie fired in a free kick from 35 yards which deflected off a defender and looped over the keeper. This gave the young Binos a 3-0 lead going into the interval.
The second half was a much more subdued affair. Fallens was called into action a few times during the opening 25 minutes of the half, taming the hosts’ efforts as they frantically tried to find a way back into the game.
Taylor Evans was dictating play in the middle of the park and breaking forward well. He had a consecutive string of shots but they went wide of the mark each time.
The hosts missed a couple of good chances minutes later, as some slack defending resulted in LTHV screwing the ball wide from six yards out on two occasions.
McLaren nearly completed his hat-trick five minutes from time after using his body to spin an opposition defender, only to be denied by the LTHV goalie.
The young Binos completed the scoring in the 90th minute. Full-back Callum MacDonald expertly curled a free kick into the danger area for defensive comrade Kyle Banner to head home. This capped a very impressive performance from our U20s, who dominated from the first whistle.
1 Ronan Fallens
2 Callum MacDonald
3 Ryan Lockie
4 Kyle Banner
5 George Stanger
6 Dillon Young
7 Luke Martin (Connor Preston 80)
8 Taylor Evans
9 Reg McLaren
10 Justin Watson (Jamie Conlon 80)
11 Alberto Vezza
Report by Andrew MacDonald