Albion Edged Out at Forthbank
Stirling Albion 0-1 Airdrieonians
Stirling Albion came up just short in their attempt to reach the Scottish League Cup second round, as they narrowly lost to Airdrieonians 1-0 at Forthbank Stadium. In front of a crowd of 799, Albion went into the match as slight underdogs against higher ranked opposition. Despite this, manager Stuart McLaren signalled his intention to attack from the off, sending his team, captained from midfield by Jon Paul McGovern, out in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with former Scotland international Craig Beattie leading the attack.
However, the attacking intent of both sides was dealt a blow an hour or so before kick-off, as the Scottish summer returned with a vengeance. Persistent heavy rain provided difficult conditions underfoot as Albion kicked off in their traditional red and white kit, and caused some difficulty when trying to string a series of passes together. As a result, the opening quarter of the game was dominated by aerial exchanges, with Airdrieonians, clad in a fetching pink number, getting off to the better start, with Bryan Prunty going close on fifteen minutes after some good work by Taylor Morgan.
Indeed, the majority of first half chances fell to the visitors. Left back Jamie Bain fired into the side netting, whilst Morgan was proving himself to be a real handful for the Albion defence. Goalkeeper Chris Smith was forced into two saves in as many minutes by the Airdrieonians centre forward, first tipping a shot round the post for a corner, before a stunning point-blank save from a half-volley off the back of the resulting set-piece.
The break-through was to come after thirty-nine minutes, however. A cross into the box by Airdrieonians tenacious left winger David Cox was flicked on by Morgan, falling at the feet of Jordan Morton. The youngster held his composure to check back, before firing a left footed shot into the corner of the net to give the visitors the lead, one which the held onto until the half time interval.
Albion initially started the second half the stronger, with an early penalty claim waved away by referee Mike Roncone. However, Airdrieonians soon began to exert significant pressure, with Morgan once more at the heart of things. The centre forward curled a shot wide after being put through on goal, before crossing to allow Prunty a half-volley that missed high and wide.
However, two inspired substitutions by manager McLaren gave Albion hope, and provided a shift in momentum. Withdrawing Beattie for the 19 year old Salim Kouider-Aissa offered a different option up front, with fellow youngster Sandy Cunningham joining him up front soon after to tee up Sean Dickson, who was unable to test the goalkeeper.
The last fifteen minutes belonged to the home side, as they frantically searched for a goal to take the game into extra time. Kouider-Aissa wasted a great chance in injury time, as he volleyed over from seven yards out when he should have at least worked Neil Parry in the Airdrieonians goal. However, it was not to be. The visitors held on for the win, and with it progress into the second round.
Stirling Albion Player Ratings
Smith 6, Hamilton 5, Forsyth 5, Robertson 5, Staunton 5, Smith 5, Johnston 6, Comrie 5, Beattie 5, McGovern (c) 5, Dickson 6 Subs Doris (for Dickson, 78) 5, Kouider –Aissa (for Beattie, 60) 6, Cunningham (for Comrie, 68) 6
Airdrieonians Player Ratings
Parry 7, Bain 6, van Zanten 6, McBride 6, Crighton 5, Lithgow 5, Cox 6, O’ Neil 6, Morgan 8, Prunty 6, Morton 7 SubsGilfillan (for O’Neil, 48) 6, Watt (for Prunty, 85) 5, Stewart (for Cox, 85) 5