STIRLING ALBION 2–2 COVE RANGERS
The players shrugged off a poor first half, were much improved after the interval, and in a repeat of what happened at Forthbank last September, twice came from behind to earn a deserved point.
Stirling led through a Dale Carrick double, one a penalty, the other a fortunate deflection, but the boys dug in, and strikers Mitch Megginson and Rumarn Burrell, who linked-up well throughout, both netted in the comeback.
Having missed the Scottish Cup win in Brora, recent signings Matty Shiels and Ola Lawal returned to the starting line-up in the two changes from midweek. Arron Darge and Paul McGowan dropped down to the bench.
The home side were unchanged from their excellent 5-0 victory over Kelty Hearts last weekend.
Stirling Albion kicked-off on what was a blustery afternoon, and were immediately on the attack, Moore swinging in a cross from the right which Nick Suman watched sail over on the wind.
Cove hit back quickly, Burrell winning a free-kick wide left, but Scully’s delivery was easily cleared. Stirling fashioned the first real opening soon after, Milne teeing up Leitch in the box, the midfielder screwing his shot wide.
Lawal and Doyle teamed-up to cause problems down our right, but were unable to find a way through, the strong wind and low sun hampering both sides in their build-up. Abion went long in their next attack, Carrick getting clear in behind, but a crunching Sena tackle averted any danger.
Josh Kerr then had to block a Leitch shot inside the box, Milne reacting to the deflection, but his overhead-kick flew high over. At the other end, Yule was closed down in the box before Currie had to move quickly to clutch an inviting low cross from Burrell.
Our first clear-cut chance came in the twenty-second minute when Ola Lawal broke away down the left and picked out Megginson in the box. Mitch controlled and teed-up Yule, the midfielder’s drive taking a deflection before Currie threw up a hand to make a fine save.
He did not look as assured when Scully swung in the corner from the right, fumbling the ball at the near post before finally claiming it. Having had to withstand some pressure, the home side countered, Cammy Clark shooting wide from twenty yards.
We had a big escape soon after when Hilson raced along the bye-line, but his low ball failed to find two team-mates who were waiting to pounce in the box.
Cove hit straight back and Lawal should have done better as he and Burrell raced at the home rearguard, but with Rumarn peeling to the left awaiting the pass, Ola’s ball lacked accuracy and was intercepted.
We conceded a penalty in the thirty-seventh, Nick Suman adjudged to have fouled Leitch when challenging the midfielder after Carrick had failed to connect with a Moore cross. In the 2-2 draw earlier in the season, Suman had saved a Spence spot-kick, but while he again guessed correctly this time, Dale CARRICK drove the ball low into the bottom corner to give the hosts the lead.
Just before the interval, after decent possession, Yule fed the ball to the left and when Scully’s cross arrived in the box Blair was there to meet it, his header flying over the bar.
A heavy half-time downpour had eased by the time the players returned to the fray, but the bitterly cold wind continued to be an issue, and neither side was able put together any moves of note during the early exchanges.
Cove finally did so in the fifty-second minute, and after good possession, Doyle slid the ball into Lawal, who laid if off for the onrushing Sena, his shot from the edge of the area sailing too high. The pair then combined again to create an opening for Scully down the left, but Connor’s cross was headed clear by McGregor.
Sena then won a strong tackle in midfield, Lawal collecting the ball and firing it wide for Megginson. The captain turned inside, only to be wiped-out by McLean, who collected the game’s first booking.
From the resultant free-kick, twenty-five yards out, Josh Kerr curled his effort just wide.
The leveller came on the hour mark after some sustained Cove pressure. Reynolds laid the ball off for Scully, who chipped it down the line to Shiels. Matty’s cross was dangerous, Mitch Megginson chesting it down, and when Burrell returned it him, MEGGINSON lashed his twelve yard shot high into the net.
Just as the side looked to kick-on, they suffered a cruel setback. There looked little danger when Dale CARRICK shaped to shoot from distance, but his effort took a wicked deflection off Doyle, and looped high over Suman into the net.
Chasing an immediate equaliser, Scully swung a free-kick deep to the back post, Kerr getting in behind his marker, but the defender could only divert the ball wide of the post.
The goal did come in our next attack.
After a Shiels throw-in was intercepted, Megginson regained control and switched the ball wide to Doyle. Mikey passed it into the box where Rumarn BURRELL took a touch, turned, and hammered it past Currie.
Paul Hartley then made his first change, Kyle Connell replacing Lawal, his fifteenth substitute appearance of the season.
Stirling might have nudged back in front, Cooper swinging in an inviting corner which McLean got a toe to, but could only touch wide, then we hit them on the counter-attack, Yule shooting goalwards, but his effort rebounding off Megginson before bouncing to safety.
With two minutes to go, Mitch chased down a ball and looked to be fouled, but as it ran free, Connor Scully took a touch then unleashed a drive from the edge of the box, Currie having to produce a fine save to punch over.
In stoppage time, it was Albion who threatened. Having broken away following more Cove pressure, Carrick ran clear on the left, Suman racing from his goal to make an important stop. From the resultant corner, Carrick rose highest, but his header flashed well wide.
That was to be the last opportunity of what had been an entertaining game, the points shared, just as they were earlier in the campaign.
STIRLING ALBION (4-4-1-1): Currie; Cummins, McGregor, McLean (c), Clark; Moore (Wilson 78), Banner, Leitch (Cooper 71), Milne; Hilson (Offord 78); Carrick
Substitutes: Weir, McGeachie, Dunsmore, Miller, Spence, Bird
Goalscorers: Carrick (pen 37) (64)
Booked: McLean (57)
COVE RANGERS (4-3-1-2): Suman; Doyle, Kerr Reynolds, Shiels; Yule, Sena, Scully; Lawal (Connell 72); Burrell, Megginson (c)
Substitutes: Robertson, Jones, Gillingham, McGowan, Darge, Stewart
Goalscorers: Megginson (60) Burrell (69)
Referee: Iain Sneddon