Scottish Cup / Forthbank Stadium / Attendance:
Sat 25 Nov 23 / 15:00

Stirling Albion




Cove Rangers



A convincing, and at times, outstanding performance saw Cove secure victory at freezing Forthbank to cruise through to the Fourth Round, goals in either half from Michael Doyle and Connor Scully enough to see off Albion.

With skipper Mitch Megginson suspended for the tie, Paul Hartley was forced into making one change, Kyle Connell taking over up front alongside top scorer Rumarn Burrell. The manager also recalled Mark Reynolds from illness, Josh Kerr stepping forward to anchor the midfield with Arron Darge dropping to the bench.

The pitch had passed a morning inspection, but there was still a covering of frost as Albion kicked-off on a chilly afternoon.

It was Cove who had the better of the very early exchanges, and after Kerr had broken down the right, his cross was half-cleared by McLean to give Paul McGowan a first sight of goal. The midfielder however failed to get proper contact and his shot bounced wide.

There was a big opportunity in the seventh minute. Reynolds’ long free-kick was flicked on by Burrell and Connell cleverly backheeled the ball. Rumarn ran on to it, but his shot was blocked, then Kyle slipped as he attempted to pounce on the rebound.

We kept up the pressure, winning successive corners, and from the second of those the team took a deserved lead. Scully swung in his delivery from the right, and Burrell was pushed as he tried to make contact, but Michael DOYLE was right behind him and powered an unstoppable header past Weir.

McLean was then booked for upending Connell thirty yards out, and in our next attack, Burrell and Yule linked-up nicely, but the midfielder’s dangerous looking cross was cut out. Still the pressure continued, and home keeper Mark Weir got lucky when his clearance cannoned off Burrell but spun to safety.

Clark then misdirected a header straight at Rumarn who gathered and waltzed past three defenders before curling his shot towards the far post. This time Weir pulled off a superb save, touching the ball wide for a corner.

The opening twenty minutes had produced some of our best football of the season, the team in complete control, and the only disappointment had been the failure to increase our advantage.

Stirling stemmed the flow a little, without offering much of a threat going forward, Cove always looking the more likely, and after one excellent move involving Doyle, Yule and Burrell, Kerr switched play and Jones fired in a superb cross which Clark headed to safety.

And then, with half an hour on the clock, out of nowhere, the home side should have been level. Having forced a corner, the ball was played in from wide right and Thomson found himself free six yards out. His powerful header crashed off the underside of the bar and was hooked clear.

Minutes later, it might have been 2-0. After more Cove possession, Connor Scully let fly from just outside the box, his angled drive flashing narrowly wide of the right post.

Kyle Connell’s long throws were causing problems for the home rearguard and from the latest, both Josh Kerr and Rumarn Burrell had well-struck shots charged down.

There was a mini scare in Albion’s next attack when, while cutting out a cross, Will Gillingham directed the ball goalwards, Suman having to be alert to make the save.

With the temperature dropping, Cove got the second half underway, but Stirling were seeing more of the ball in the early exchanges, albeit without offering much of a threat, and in our first attack, we punished them.

Blair Yule picked up on the right and fed the ball infield. Connor SCULLY took a clever first touch, created a yard of space for himself, and stroked a shot from the edge of the box into the bottom corner to spark celebrations among the sizeable away support.

Back came Albion, and they looked certain to score when, after a scramble in the box, Thomson shot from just eight yards. His effort was on target, but Josh Kerr slid in from nowhere to make a vital block.

In the sixty-third minute, Connell flicked on a high ball for Burrell to chase down, and after taking it to the bye-line, the striker cut it back perfectly for Scully to run on to. Connor opened up his body to shoot left-footed, McLean getting a touch to prevent a third goal.

The home side had the ball in the net soon after, but Thomson had been flagged offside long before McLean converted his cross from close range.

With fifteen minutes remaining, Paul Hartley made a double switch as Sena replaced Kerr in the middle and Scott Williamson took over from Connell in attack, and soon after, Arron Darge came on for McGowan.

Albion had one last effort, Cooper running through to fire off a decent shot which Nick Suman tipped over, and then we might have got a third, Scully playing in Burrell, but the striker’s low angled shot flashed just past the left post.

Cove comfortably saw out the remainder of the tie, and all eyes will now be on the draw which will take place on BBC Scotland’s Sportscene programme on Sunday night.

STIRLING ALBION (4-4-2): Weir; McGeachie, McGregor, McLean (c), Clark; Miller (Banner 69), Moore, Leitch, Wilson (Cooper 69); Carrick, Thomson

Substitutes: Currie, Dunsmore, Rennie, Omobude, Isaac


Booked: McLean (12), Miller (63)

COVE RANGERS (4-4-2): Suman; Doyle, Gillingham, Reynolds, Jones; Yule, Kerr (Sena 75), McGowan (Darge 81), Scully; Connell (Williamson 75), Burrell

Substitutes: Demus, Mykyta, Gallagher, Stewart

Goalscorers: Doyle (10), Scully (50)

Booked: Kerr (55)

Referee: Duncan Williams

Attendance: 566

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