Our U20 side drew 4-4 with Livingston in the Development League East on the Almondvale Astro on Wednesday night.
In a pulsating match, we trailed 2-0 early in the second half then led 3-2 and 4-3 before 10-man Livi levelled late on. Kyle Banner, Callum MacDonald, Justin Watson and Taylor Evans got the goals for Andy Todd’s side, whose next match is away to Alloa on Monday.
Report from Andrew MacDonald
The boys lined up in their favoured 4-2-3-1 formation and went into this game full of confidence, after reaching the fourth round of the Youth Cup two days earlier. Midfielder Marc Innes made his first start for our U20 team. Livi were also full of confidence, a 2-1 win over Raith Rovers their latest triumph.
The game started fairly evenly, with both teams having early chances. Livi had a shot go narrowly over the bar, while the young Binos went close through Callum MacDonald’s left-footed effort at the edge of the box. It was the hosts who struck first, however, as striker Dylan Mackin used his strength to hold off his marker and drive a low shot into the net.
Stirling didn’t offer much during the first half, with only Connor McMullan and Dillon Young having half chances with headed efforts from set-pieces. The boys went into the interval a goal down.
It will be hard for any game in the Development League East this season to rival the entertainment of the second half. Livi stated their intentions early, going through on goal straight from kick-off but Ronan Fallens denied their striker, as he made himself big and saved the shot.
Andy Todd made a tactical change at half-time, switching the positions of the wingers. MacDonald was now playing left mid, with Alberto Vezza on the right. This instantly reaped rewards, as MacDonald skipped three challenges before driving into the box and passing for Reg McLaren to strike but his shot was blocked and went out for a throw-in.
Livi then threatened but Fallens was on hand to make another impressive save, which fell to a Livi player and went just wide. That wasn’t the end of this phase of action, as the hosts picked up the ball in the centre, and worked it out to the right where they crossed the ball into the box for midfielder Matthew Knox to hit home and make it 2-0.
Stirling pulled a goal back on the 57th minute, as captain Ryan Lockie’s curled corner found defensive comrade Kyle Banner, who powered a header into the far corner. Banner nearly repeated the feat a minute later, as his headed effort went just over the bar.
The game-changing moment came with an hour played as a Livi midfielder was red carded for a studs-up challenge. The boys instantly took advantage of this, as they equalised two minutes later. Full-back Declyn Cumming was given the ball in space on the right, where he perfectly picked out the on-running MacDonald, whose header was saved by the keeper but he netted the rebound for 2-2.
The hosts had two chances to take the lead again minutes later. Both were again 1v1 situations but they had a familiar result – Fallens standing strong to deny the attackers. A frantic three-minute spell of play was about to follow. McMullan produce some outrageous skill in the middle of the park in the 72nd minute to spin two Livi players. He then played a gorgeous over the top ball to Vezza, who held off his opponent and played the ball to unmarked substitute Justin Watson, whose shot found the bottom right corner of the net.
The Lions hit back straight away, scoring straight from kick-off as they worked the ball right and crossed into the box for forward Jack Hamilton to hammer into the net. We replied immediately to go 4-3 up. The ball was worked wide to Vezza, who played it inside for midfielder Taylor Evans to smash into the net from 25 yards out. The best goal in a game of many goals!
Stirling subs Martin and Watson had opportunities to secure the game with half chances in the midst of the Lions’ late pressure but Livi equalised in the 88th minute as they worked the ball to the right once again, where the cross was met by Scott Hay and he found the corner with his right-footed shot to make it 4-4.
Our U20 team will be disappointed to have drawn the game after their comeback but, on the balance of play, a draw was a fair result. The boys look for their first league win in three when they travel to Alloa for the development derby on Monday.
1 Ronan Fallens
2 Declyn Cumming
3 Ryan Lockie
4 Kyle Banner
5 Dillon Young
6 Taylor Evans (Brooklyn Mair 86’)
7 Callum MacDonald
8 Connor McMullan
9 Reg McLaren (Justin Watson 66’)
10 Marc Innes (Luke Martin 78’)
11 Alberto Vezza
Sub (not used): George Stanger