Match Report - By Steven Mew
City advanced to the third round of the SPFL Trust Trophy following a dramatic penalty shootout victory over league 2 outfit Stirling Albion yesterday evening.
On the balance of play, City deserved to win over the 90 minutes but held their nerve on spot kicks to ensure they were in Monday’s draw.
Andy Kirk kept changes to a minimum from Saturday’s win over Buckie Thistle with Kieran Inglis coming in for the injured Michael Cruickshank.
The visitors had the first opportunity of the game after 8 minutes when Josh Cooper tried to catch Lenny Wilson off guard with a quickly taken free kick but his strike went wide of the near post.
It was City who opened the scoring with 11 minutes on the clock. Kieran Inglis threaded a ball through for MARC SCOTT who broke clear of the Binos defence and he showed great composure to skip past the advancing Callum Law and roll into the empty net.
On the half hour mark, Law pushed away a fierce effort from McGrath with the Stirling defence prepared to block the follow up strike from MacLeod.
A minute later, MacLeod was fouled 20 yards from goal and the resulting free kick from Bain just whistled wide of the post.
City certainly had their tails up at this stage and continued to put the Binos rearguard under immense pressure. McGrath did supremely well down the right before cutting the ball back for Scott in the centre of the box but his placed shot was straight at Law.
The visitors came back into it with Danny Burns knocking a Josh Cooper cross wide at the near post and two minutes later, Danny Denholm’s angled effort skimmed the top of the crossbar.
Five minutes before the break, Inglis was denied by an excellent block following some good work down the right hand side by Bain.
A minute later City thought they had doubled the advantage. Inglis floated a ball over the top for Scott who twisted and turned his marker before drilling the ball across the face of goal for Northcott to slam home from a few yards out. City’s celebrations were short lived with the Hedge side linesman raising his flag for offside.
City went in at the break with a deserved lead and the visitors looked to change things up with an attacking sub at half time as Jack Leitch replaced defender Jordan McGregor.
The switch didn’t have the desired effect as City continued to be to look the more threatening going forward. Five minutes into the half Law was equal to Inglis’ shot on the turn inside the box before the Stirling keeper pushed away a fierce left-footed strike by McGrath.
On 57 minutes Northcott collected a pass from McHattie down the left and the former St Johnstone youngster came inside on his right foot before firing wide of the far post, perhaps undone by a slight bobble as he pulled the trigger.
Despite City’s dominance, the visitors pulled themselves level with a counter attacking move shortly before the hour mark. Following a City attack, the Binos burst forward in numbers and a cross from the right side was knocked back across goal by Denholm for DALE CARRICK who fired high into the net from 6 yards out.
Ewan Loudon came on for Kieran Inglis immediately after the goal as City looked to haul themselves back in front. Loudon went on to draw a foul 20 yards from goal but McHattie’s free-kick was disappointing, finishing well wide of the target.
Ten minutes from time Fraser MacLeod, who put in another excellent display in the middle of the park, advanced forward with the ball and his placed effort flew just wide of the far post.
Just as the game looked to be heading for a penalty shootout, Stirling were given the opportunity to win the game two minutes into stoppage time when Lenny Wilson upended Aaron Dunsmore in the box.
Much to the despair of the City players, Daniel Graves pointed to the spot however Wilson made amends with a fantastic save to his right to deny Jack Leitch. Lenny was alert again to keep out the follow up from Kieran Curtis, before Aaron Dunsmore’s strike was blocked by Nathan Cooney to ensure the game ended in a draw.
In the penalty shootout, Stirling were first up with Harrison Clark, Ross Davidson and Cammy Clark all converting with Jamie Bain and Ewan Loudon doing likewise for City, before Law saved from Marc Scott to hand the visitors the advantage.
Kyle Banner netted for Stirling before Cammie Ross dispatched his penalty with aplomb. Danny Denholm had the opportunity to win the tie for Stirling but Lenny Wilson made a fine save to give City a fighting chance. Grady McGrath converted to ensure the penalties went into sudden death.
After having his spot kick saved in stoppage time, Jack Leitch was again denied by Wilson before Seth Patrick slotted away the penalty to send City through to the 3rd round of the competition.