Stirling Albion’s U20 side beat Cowdenbeath 5-3 at Central Park in the SPFL Development League East on Wednesday night.
The Blue Brazil led 2-0 at the break but the young Binos stormed back in the second half with goals from top scorer Reg McLaren (2), Kyle Banner, Liam Caddis and Alberto Vezza.
Report by Andrew MacDonald
The boys lined up in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation, as Declyn Cumming, first-teamer Liam Caddis and U17 goalkeeper Callum Law came into the side who were narrowly defeated by Ross County in the Scottish FA Youth Cup last Sunday.
The young Binos started well, having a succession of chances in the opening 10 minutes. The first chance was volleyed just wide by Ross Cameron after neat set-up play from Luke Martin and Alberto Vezza. It was then the turn of Reg McLaren to strike wide, as he couldn’t direct Cumming’s through ball towards goal. The striker had a half chance a few moments later, as his effort from a corner was blocked.
Cowdenbeath threatened for the first time in the 16th minute, as lack of communication at the back resulted in the hosts having an open goal to aim at. Luckily for Stirling, the striker’s effort went wide. Two minutes later, Cameron again had the chance to open the scoring but couldn’t make the most of Caddis’s clever chipped through ball and sent his half volley wide.
The hosts opened the scoring in 19 minutes after some intelligent play. Their right winger was played into space down the line, where he cut on to his favoured left foot and picked out striker Ryan Connelly, who promptly turned and fired the ball into the bottom corner.
Cameron looked to find an equaliser in the 28th minute, as he skilfully dribbled past three players to find himself in a shooting position. His low effort was saved by the keeper and went out for a corner. Our U20 side nearly equalised again through Caddis, as he latched on to Ryan Lockie’s resulting corner from four yards out but again the host custodian managed to deny Stirling.
The boys again came to rue their missed chances as the Blue Brazil extended their lead. A misplaced pass in defence allowed Connelly to drive forward and score his second goal of the game after 39 minutes. Stirling went into the interval two goals down and an improved showing in the second half would be necessary to get anything out the game.
An improved showing is exactly what the spectators at Central Park witnessed, as the young Binos came flying out the traps in the second half. McLaren immediately pulled a goal back after he delicately lobbed the keeper from a Cummings through ball. The boys then equalised five minutes later, as Kyle Banner rose highest to nod home a Caddis corner.
There was further jubilation for Stirling when they went ahead after 57 minutes; Caddis was the scorer this time. Vezza applied pressure to the goalie, which prompted a string of defensive errors from the Blue Brazil. Caddis was on hand to stoke the ball into the net from 20 yards out and the goal capped a mature performance from the midfielder. An outstanding comeback from the young Binos, who completely turned the game around after 12 minutes of the second half!
The drama continued for the next 20 minutes, however. The Cowden left-back Cameron O’Donnell deservedly got a goal after his perseverance on 63 minutes. He managed to evade a few challenges and find space in the box, only for Law to make an impressive save low to his right. Banner then produced heroics to somehow block the follow up, but his efforts were in vain, as O’Donnell coolly slotted the ball into the net with his right foot.
The boys didn’t panic and Vezza restored the lead with a 30-yard lob moments later. The ball was punched out to the winger after a set-piece, where he showed the awareness to the lift it over everyone packed in the box and into the middle of the net. Beautiful technique from Vezza.
Stirling weren’t finished there though. With just over 10 minutes to play, Cameron went on a run down the left wing where he slipped past his marker and smashed an angled shot at the keeper. His effort was parried to the elusive McLaren to head into the bottom corner. This was the top scorer’s third brace of the season against Cowdenbeath and his goal tally now stands at 13.
A dominant second-half performance featuring a spectacular comeback won this game for the young Binos, whose scheduled game against Livingston next week has been postponed and rearranged for Wednesday March 28.
1. C. Law
2. D. Cumming
3. L. Martin (Young 71’)
4. R. Lockie
5. K. Banner
6. M. Innes
7. A. Vezza
8. L. Caddis (MacDonald 76’)
9. R. McLaren
10. R. Cameron
11. T. Evans (Mair 82’)