Stirling Albion’s U20 side drew 1-1 away to Raith Rovers at the Michael Woods Sports & Leisure Centre in Glenrothes on Tuesday night, with Taylor Evans scoring our goal.
Report by Andrew MacDonald
Andy Todd made five changes to the side that lost 2-0 to Berwick on the Forthbank Astro three weeks ago. The boys lined up in their favoured 4-2-3-1 formation, with first-team players Mark Foden, Scott Davidson and Connor McMullan assisting the young Binos. Kyle Banner and George Stanger were unavailable.
Development League East leaders Raith started at a high intensity, passing the ball intricately, with our boys barely getting a touch in the opening exchanges. Foden was tested early, as he somehow managed to get a foot to a low shot from the right-hand side of the box. Rovers continued to apply constant pressure on Foden’s goal for the next 10 minutes but the big keeper stood tall and continued to deny Raith.
The boys created a couple of chances in the way of counter-attack moves during the first half. Ryan Lockie picked out Callum MacDonald at the back post but the midfielder couldn’t direct his header goalwards. The latter was then played into space 10 minutes later but his cross was gathered by the opposing custodian.
After a spell of Albion possession, Rovers were back on the front foot. They continued to create chances from all areas of the pitch, only being denied by poor finishing and Foden’s excellence. Centre-back Dillon Young produced his own heroics when he cleared a certain goal off the line on the cusp of half-time
The young Binos continued to hold their own in the second half and had an early chance to take the lead, as MacDonald’s flashed cross just evaded top scorer Reg McLaren. Despite this, it was still backs to the wall for the young Binos, as Raith pressure continued.
Young again showed his defensive qualities by toeing the ball wide to deny a certain goal. Alas, in the 56th minute, Foden and his impressive defence were finally beaten. The hosts won back possession on the edge of their box and broke upfield. Foden saved the initial effort from a Raith midfielder, but the rebounded effort was curled home from the edge of the box.
Alberto Vezza tried to take the initiative with his weaving runs, one of which nearly produced a goal with an hour played. The winger controlled the ball expertly before turning and nutmegging his opponent with ease but his pass was cut out.
The young Binos then found an equaliser in the 65th minute. McLaren won a free kick 30 yards from goal, for McMullan to curve into the box. After a couple of deflections, the ball eventually found the boot of Evans, who poked it into the side of the net.
Jubilant after their equaliser, Stirling tried to find a goal which would give them the lead. Vezza’s pop shot from a corner went narrowly wide and forward Ross Cameron thought he’d given the boys the lead but was adjudged to be offside after tapping in McLaren’s rebounded shot.
The hosts’ play was becoming more rushed and erratic. Something that didn’t change, though, was the quality of Foden and his defence. The keeper continued to hold and parry goal-bound shots. Brooklyn Mair and Davidson also continued to make important tackles and blocks. Rovers had a number of chances to go ahead but couldn’t find the quality to hit the back of the net.
Our U20 team now have a winter break and their next Development League East game is against Alloa at the start of February. Meanwhile, Andy Todd will be getting his side prepared for the clash against Development League holders Ross County in the Scottish Youth Cup on January 8 – a quarter-final tie against Aberdeen is the prize for the winners.
1 Mark Foden
2 Brooklyn Mair
3 Ryan Lockie
4 Dillon Young
5 Scott Davidson
6 Connor McMullan
7 Callum MacDonald
8 Taylor Evans (Marc Innes 80)
9 Reg McLaren (Justin Watson 83)
10 Ross Cameron
11 Alberto Vezza
Subs (not used):