Our U20 side beat Livingston 2-0 in the Development League East on Wednesday night thanks to a double from top scorer Reg McLaren.
Andy Todd made two changes to the side that beat Forfar 1-0 two weeks ago, as Justin Watson and Dillon Young replaced Ross Cameron and Kyle Banner in the starting line-up. The visitors came into the fixture in good form, having won two of their last three games.
Livingston came flying out the traps, as they created a chance with only a minute played. Indecision in the defence led to Livi missing an open-goal opportunity. An early let-off for our U20 side!
After a shaky opening 20 minutes, Stirling managed to work their way into the game. Watson tested the Livi keeper, as he glanced a header towards the back post from a Ryan Lockie free kick, which was tipped over the bar. The visitors had a number of shots from distance, which never troubled Callum Law in Stirling’s goal.
Our U20 side took the lead at the perfect time, as they scored just before the interval. A Livingston defender tried to hook the ball away on halfway but he inadvertently assisted a Stirling goal, as the pass was too short for his goalkeeper. With the keeper caught in no-man’s land 25 yards from goal, and with the assistance of the press from Watson, McLaren stroked the ball into an empty net.
The young Binos extended their lead on 50 minutes. Taylor Evans played a superb ball over the top to McLaren, who used his body to easily get in front of a Livi centre- back. Poised to shoot, the striker’s heel was clipped and he was brought down for a penalty. McLaren stepped up to take the spot-kick, which was saved well by the keeper low to his left, but he showed his instincts and smashed the rebound into the net.
Livingston were desperately trying to salvage something from the game. They called Law into meaningful action for the first time with an hour gone, as the young custodian got down low to save a powerful volley. Livi had another golden chance to grab a goal six minutes later as one of their midfielders smashed the ball over the bar from six yards out.
Evans and Innes had fine games in central midfield, as they were tenaciously breaking up play and moving the ball at every opportunity. One such time nearly led to McLaren’s hat-trick, as Evans won the ball back on halfway and fed the striker the ball. McLaren wriggled clear of his marker, but his low shot was saved by the keeper.
Livingston caught Stirling on the break with 15 minutes to play but defenders Dillon Young and Luke Martin did brilliantly to track the runs of the attacker, stopping a sure goal in the process.
It was yet again McLaren’s day as the striker put in another impressive showing and bagged another brace. His determination and the use of his body are paying dividends for the young Binos, as he has now totalled 15 goals this season.
C. MacDonald (Mair 77’)
A. Vezza (Trialist 77’)