Our U20 side beat Berwick Rangers 2-1 on the Forthbank Astro on Wednesday night.
Justin Watson and Kyle Banner were on target for Andy Todd’s team before Berwick pulled one back late on.
Report by Andrew MacDonald
Stirling made one change to the side who beat Livingston at the end of March, as Kyle Banner was introduced. Berwick came into the match in red-hot form, as they thrashed Forfar 4-0 last week.
The visitors showed they meant business from the off, as they nearly scored within a minute. After exchanging some neat passes, they released the left midfielder down the wing and he lofted a cross to the back post. A Berwick forward met the ball on the half volley but Callum Law somehow managed to contort his body into a shape which helped him make an excellent save with his right arm.
The Black & Gold continued to apply pressure for the next 25 minutes and had a further three chances to open the scoring. The first should have been converted as a mistake at the back resulted in one of their forwards blazing the ball over the bar despite having an open goal. Law was then involved again, as he dived low to his left to keep out a shot struck from the edge of the box. The visitors then again cleared the goal with a shot from the edge of the box.
It took the young Binos half an hour to get a hold of the game and start creating chances. Skipper Ryan Lockie played a pin-point ball to Taylor Evans, who had made a run on the right wing. The midfielder controlled the ball and showcased his dribbling ability by wiggling through two challenges, only for his left-footed effort to be saved.
Our U20 side then took an unlikely lead two minutes later. Evans was involved again, as he impressively back-heeled the ball to the advancing Callum MacDonald under pressure. MacDonald lifted his head and played a through ball to Reg McLaren. The striker’s shot was blocked, but fell to the supporting Justin Watson, who poked the ball home with his second opportunity after the goalkeeper saved his first effort.
The start of the second half was a slightly quieter affair, with both sides mainly keeping the ball. Alberto Vezza had a low shot saved early on and Berwick were threatening down the left, but their crosses into the box were either off target or evaded their attackers.
The game only really came alive in the final 10 minutes. McLaren again gave a typically hard-working performance and helped create something out of nothing. The striker received the ball in the left-hand corner of the pitch, where he held off two markers and let Lockie – who was charging down the left – pinch the ball from his feet. The captain perfectly picked out substitute Ross Cameron, who controlled the ball and saw his low shot saved.
The resulting corner was played short between Lockie and Watson. The former received the ball back at the very edge of the box and whipped an irresistible cross towards the back post for Kyle Banner to place an unmissable header into the corner of the net. A fifth goal of the season for the centre-back.
The visitors made the end of the match interesting, as they pulled a goal back after 88 minutes. Midfielder Gary Windrum was played into space on the left side, where he picked out fellow sub Kieran Jack to tap the ball low into the goal. Berwick searched for a leveller in the closing minutes, as they tried to threaten with a number of shots from distance but their efforts were in vain.
It was another performance where our U20 side won despite not being at their best. It’s four wins on the trot for the young Binos, who play their final game of the season against league champions Raith Rovers at the Forthbank Astro on Monday. A win would see them finish second in the Development League East.
D Cumming (B Mair 83’)
L Martin (D Young 64’)
C MacDonald (R Cameron 64’)