In a gruelling clash at Stirling Uni, Bo’ness faced their first league defeat this season amid a rain-laden night. The strong wind, from right to left, added to the misery of the evening.
Bo’ness’s backline saw a makeshift setup, with R. Weir shifted from midfield to right-back, Simpson on the left , and Mitchell and the loaned talent, Wright, holding the fort in the middle.
At kick-off, Bo’ness held the wind advantage, and within a mere 94 seconds, they drew first blood. A brilliant clearance from Mackay found M. Weir on the right, just past the halfway line. R. Weir, now on defensive duty, embarked on a lung-busting run, delivered a crisp, low cross into the box, where MacDonald awaited, calmly slotting a left-footed effort past the Stirling Uni keeper from six yards.
MacDonald later attempted a long-range strike, following a deft header from Robertson, but his effort narrowly missed the target, just past the left post.
Moments after, Robertson won a free-kick from a rough challenge about 25 yards out. His attempt, however, posed no threat and sailed past the post.
A promising move by Stirling Uni saw MacKay dispossessed after a good pass by their no. 8, setting up their no. 9 for a shot from the edge of the 18-yard area, comfortably gathered by Bo’ness’s keeper, Currid.
A swift sequence initiated by a short corner from Robertson found its way to R. Weir, who delivered a tantalising cross. The unmarked Shearer met it with his head but couldn’t direct it on target, leaving it to sail agonisingly past the post once more.
Snedden showcased his skills, threading a sublime pass to M. Weir through a cluster of Stirling players. M. Weir surged down the left flank and whipped in a low-driven cross to Shearer, lurking just inside the six-yard box. A last-ditch sliding tackle from the Stirling defender cleared the danger to safety.
Another beautiful play unfolded on the left between Robertson and Shearer, resulting in a shot from Robertson, but yet again, a well-timed tackle deflected the ball into the keeper’s grateful arms.
As the half-hour mark approached, Bo’ness squandered their best chance to double their lead. A clever one-two between M. Weir and MacDonald saw Weir penetrate the box, ready to unleash a left-footed strike destined for the net. However, a superb save by the Stirling Uni keeper, who blocked the shot with his left foot, kept Bo’ness at bay.
Robertson was next to test the keeper’s mettle, winning a header down the left. A fortunate bounce allowed him to enter the box and fire a shot, but the keeper thwarted his efforts once more, smothering the ball.
A mesmerising twist by M. Weir left his marker bemused, enabling him to set up Shearer for a long-range effort from 25 yards out. The keeper, well-positioned, managed to tip the ball over the bar.
The first half concluded with Bo’ness ruing their missed opportunities to seize a commanding lead.
The second half commenced under equally dire weather conditions, this time favouring Stirling Uni. It proved a scrappy affair, with both sides struggling to control the ball on the slippery artificial turf, a consequence of the persistent rain.
In the 77th minute, Bo’ness finally threatened in the second half. A long ball over the top by MacKay reached Robertson on the flank. He exhibited fine control and skilfully manoeuvred towards the keeper. Although he managed to round the keeper, the referee ruled the ball had crossed the touchline before his subsequent pass to Shearer, disallowing the goal and awarding a goal kick.
A mere minute later, Stirling Uni celebrated an equalizer. A long pass from their own half found the Stirling no. 11 on the left flank. As R. Weir moved in to challenge, an unfortunate slip left the Stirling striker with ample time to line up a shot from approximately 23 yards out. Although Currid dove valiantly, he couldn’t quite reach the curling effort, and the ball nestled into the back of the net.
Frustration and despondency crept into Bo’ness, prompting the manager to introduce Ogilvie in place of MacDonald. In the 81st minute, they lodged a strong penalty claim when R. Weir appeared to be bundled to the ground inside the box, but the referee remained unmoved.
Stirling Uni seized the initiative in the final 10 minutes, threatening to take the lead. A loose ball in the box ventured perilously close to the penalty spot but ultimately trickled past the post, serving as a potent warning to Bo’ness.
One minute later, they paid the ultimate price. A throw-in, merely six yards from the goal line, was lofted into the box, finding the head of Stirling Uni’s no. 5, who directed it towards the Stirling no. 11, positioned approximately 16 yards out. He elegantly curled a shot into the top right-hand corner, leaving Currid with no chance of stopping it.
Bo’ness endeavored to find the equalizer, but time was not on their side. The referee’s whistle sounded, concluding the match with five minutes of added time.
An encouraging note from the game was the impressive performance of newcomer Wright, who joined on a short-term loan from Broxburn Athletic. Bo’ness now gears up for their upcoming clash against Arniston Rangers in the semi-final of the Alex Jack Cup.
Final Score: Stirling University 2 – 1 Bo’ness Athletic
The East of Scotland Second Division League Match No. 10