Aug 8 2012 by David Ogilvie, Stirling Observer Wednesday
Arbroath 1 Stirling Albion1 (Arbroath win 3-2 on pens after extra time)
A HEARTBREAKING penalty shoot-out defeat denied Stirling a place in the second round of the Scottish Communities League Cup.
Greig McDonald’s men came close to causing an upset against last season’s Division Two runners-up but Graham Weir, Mark Ferry and Danny Ashe were all foiled by keeper Darren Hill when it came down to penalties.
Scott Davidson and Daly McSorley confidently converted from 12 yards and Albion keeper David Crawford kept out Arbroath player-boss Paul Sheerin but Steven Doris, Derek Holmes and Paul Currie netted for the Red Lichties as Ashe’s miss sealed Stirling’s fate.
Last week’s 3-0 reverse to Falkirk in the Ramsdens Cup was a fairly routine affair but this tie was always in the balance and the visitors were only seven minutes from victory when Currie cancelled out Ferry’s first-half opener, which ironically came from the penalty spot.
There was plenty of encouragement for McDonald, ahead of the Third Division opener against Annan Athletic at Forthbank on Saturday, but this is the fifth year in a row that Stirling have exited the League Cup in round one and the hope of a potential meeting with SPL opponents has now gone.
McDonald made four changes to the team that lost at Falkirk. With goalkeepers Sam Filler and Mark Peat unavailable, ex-Queen’s Park, Alloa and Clyde number one Crawford made his debut after signing a short-term deal.
Summer signing Kieran McAnespie also made his first appearance after joining from Arbroath in the summer and Jamie Clark replaced the manager to make his first start. Davidson was drafted in after being on the bench last week and looked lively in attacking role.
Stirling lined up in a 4-3-1-2 formation, with Weir behind a front two of Davidson and Bradley Coyne against an Arbroath team that included former Binos Scott Robertson and Darren Gribben.
The Red Lichties had won 3-2 at Gayfield when the teams met in this competition four years ago and also took 10 points from 12 in the four Second Division encounters last term, although Albion’s performances were far better than the statistics might suggest.
This game kicked off in sunshine but by the end the haar had drifted in from the North Sea and it was damp and chilly when Arbroath eventually booked their place in the next round.
Stirling started well and Hill tipped a Ferry shot on to the post in the opening minutes before he was forced to clutch a powerful Davidson header under the crossbar.
Arbroath had beaten Elgin City 7-5 in an astonishing encounter the previous week but Albion kept them quiet in the early stages and it was not until midway through the half that they cut open the defence, Gribben lashing a volley inches wide from a Doris cross.
Gribben, an undoubted talent of many clubs, then curled a lovely effort against the post from outside the box and it kindly rebounded to Crawford.
It was the home side’s best spell of the game but it was Albion who took the lead when McAnespie burst into the left corner of the box and went down under a careless challenge from Robertson. Ferry stepped up to thump the penalty into the net.
Doris should have equalised at the start of the second half but Crawford blocked his shot and only rarely after that did Arbroath get in behind the Stirling defence, although it took a superb save to keep out a header from ex-Airdrie United striker Holmes.
Weir was thwarted by Hill in a rare Stirling foray and it looked as if the Binos would close the game out until a deep cross from Kieran Brennan was swept home by Currie with seven minutes left.
Holmes shot straight at Crawford in the closing minutes and Doris, who bagged 21 goals in Division Two in 2011/12, wasted a glorious opportunity to win it with virtually the last kick of the 90 minutes when he knocked his effort wide of the post after a defensive blunder.
The Red Lichties played most of the extra period with 10 men as Daniel Rennie was forced off after a head knock and all three substitutes – of whom he was one – were already committed. He returned for the final few minutes, by which time Stirling should have been ahead.
Stirling were strong in the additional 30 minutes but Gary Brass saw his shot hit Hill, Weir fired just over and Ferry’s effort was charged down by a defender as Arbroath held on for penalties.
Weir went down the middle with the first kick but it was too low and caught the legs of the Arbroath keeper, paving the way for an Arbroath triumph that left the Binos dejected.
ARBROATH: Hill, Baxter, Brennan, Banjo, Robertson (Travis 46), Keddie, Sibanda (Rennie 69), Currie, Doris, Gribben (Holmes 62), Sheerin. Subs not used : Prince-Wright, Bullock.
STIRLING ALBION: Crawford, Ashe, McAnespie (McGeachie 88), McCunnie, Clark, Allison, Davidson, Macpherson (McSorley 90), Weir, Coyne (Brass 83), Ferry. Subs not used: Flood, Cleland.
Referee: Paul Robertson