Stirling Albion 1-0 Rangers
Irn Bru SFL Division 3 - 6th October 2012
Stirling Albion came into one of the biggest matches in their history having only won two of their first seven games of the season, having beaten Annan on the opening day of the season, and easily overcoming Dalbeattie Star in the Scottish Cup second round the week before.
They were not aided by the fact that Albion manager, Greig McDonald, was unable to lead his team on the day, as he had his own wedding to attend instead. In his place, Assistant Coach Shaun Fagan took charge for the day.
In spite of Rangers' domination of possession in the first five minutes, Albion found themselves ahead in the ninth minute, thanks to a goal from captain Brian Allison. Daley McSorley's corner from the left-hand side swung into the Rangers box, and was not dealt with. With the ball bouncing around the box, Allison pounced and smashed the ball past Rangers' 'keeper Neil Alexander and into the net. Cue euphoric reactions from the Stirling faithful.
Rangers were obviously shaken by this, and sought an immediate equaliser. Just minutes later, Rangers winger Lewis MacLeod struck a weak shot from the edge of the Stirling box, which was easily dealt with by Sam Filler to his left-hand side.
The first half soon became extremely scrappy, with neither side able to maintain possession for any real length of time. Rangers' best chance of the half came when captain Lee McCulloch's glanced header struck the inside of Filer's left-hand post, and was promptly booted clear by Brian Allison.
Stirling soon tried to extend their unlikely lead. Some excellent play down the Rangers right flank saw Albion full-back Keiran McAnespie pass through to lone frontman Jordan White, who cut inside and had his shot deflected out for a corner.
Half-way through the first period, both sets of players became very fired up and it looked like it would be sooner rather than later before someone was sent for an early bath. On the twenty-fifth minute, Albion's Stephen Weir was booked for a cynical and clumsy tackle on Rangers 'keeper Alexander inside the visitors' box. Without a clear chance of winning the ball, Weir was lucky to have remained on the pitch.
Albion once again could have gone in at half-time with a second goal. A long punt up-field by full-back David McClune put White one-on-one with Alexander, but he could only scuff his shot across the face of the Rangers goal.
With half-time not far away, Albion squandered another huge opportunity. A ball was launched into the Rangers box, who once again failed to clear, and Albion's Stephen Weir sliced the ball wide of the left-hand post from only five yards out.
Rangers looked to end the half with a goal, and came close on a few occasions. Full-back Anestis Argryiou found himself wide open on the Albion left flank, and charged down the pitch only to fire a cross-come-shot across the face of the Stirling goal. A Lee McCulloch free kick was well dealt with by Sam Filler who gathered after an initial parry, and with just about the last kick of the half Dean Shiels pulled a shot well wide of the target.
Stirling held on to head in at half-time one-nil up.
Albion 'keeper Sam Filler was replaced at half-time by Mark Peat. It was revealed after the match by Assistant Coach Shaun Fagan that Sam Filler had been only able to see out of one eye in the later part of the first half.
A chance fell Rangers way in the first few seconds of the half as an Aird corner fell to Ian Black whose stinging drive was well blocked by Mark Ferry. Not long afterwards, Lee McCulloch and Dean Shiels combined and Mark Peat did superbly to tip Shiels' close range effort round the post for a corner.
Stirling were unable to keep possession, as Rangers dominated the midfield, and as a result the pressure kept coming back on the home defence. Mark Ferry lost possession in a dangerous area and was relieved to see Lewis MacLeod drive his shot just wide of the target. Rangers looked certain to equalise. A corner from the Rangers left was met by Lee McCulloch's head and it took an excellent goal-line clearance from Marc McCulloch to keep Albion ahead.
In the 60th minute, Rangers captain Lee McCulloch found himself booked for a blatant dive on the edge of the Albion box. In spite of this, Rangers continued to push forward.
Rangers full-back Lee Wallace fired over the bar from 18 yards as Rangers began to appear desperate in their search for a leveller. Former Hearts and Scotland striker Kevin Kyle was introduced to the game around half-way through the second half, and was involved straight away as he got on the end of a Wallace cross only to head wide of Peat’s right hand post. Stirling blew an excellent opportunity to extend their advantage. Good play out wide ended with Jordan White sending in a perfect cross to Steven Weir who once again fluffed his lines as he sclaffed wide with Neil Alexander rooted to the spot. Up the other end, sub Barrie McKay did well to create space before drilling a shot just over the bar.
Gary Thom found himself in the book, after he crunched into Ian Black. A groggy-looking Black was quickly replaced by Kal Naismith. Just moments later, Kevin Kyle was played in once again, but Peat did well to push the ball behind for a corner.
A ball into the Stirling box fell nicely for Sebastian Faure but he could only scuff his shot into the side of Peat's goal. Kevin Kyle then linked with Dean Shiels whose tame attempt was easily held by Peat.
With the clock almost at 90 minutes, Rangers threw everybody forward. Kevin Kyle again rose highest to a crossed ball only to float a header straight into the hands of Mark Peat. A loose ball on the edge of the box fell to Lee McCulloch, but his strike flew well over the bar. With the resulting goal kick, referee Bobby Madden blew for full-time.
As they walked off the pitch, Albion players, deservedly, found almost the entire home stand applauding and giving them a standing ovation.
Stirling Albion Assistant Coach Shaun Fagan after the match: “It's a great feeling to beat Rangers. It's a great day for the players and the club. The boys did really well, and defended really well. It's a great team performance defensively. We knew that when Rangers came here, they were going to have the majority of the play, and they were going to have chances. In the first half, Sam (Filler) made some great saves, and Peat did a great job as well. It was never going to be a pretty game for us, and it was never going to be football that passed Rangers off the park, so we knew we'd have to roll the sleeves up, dug in and fight for everything we could.”
Rangers Manager Ally McCoist after the match: “I'm extremely disappointed and exasperated...that said, we certainly created enough chances to win. When you don't take your chances, you get punished, and that was the case today. You have to congratulate the opponents, but at the same time, look at our own performance ...the tempo of the game wasn't played nearly quick enough. That aside, the chances we missed were an indication of the way we were playing. They did take their chance, and that's why we got punished. The overriding emotion I have at the moment is that of frustration."
Stirling Albion: Filler (Peat '46), McClune, Thom, Allison, McAnespie, Graham Weir, McSorley (Day '59), McCulloch, Ferry, Stephen Weir (Flood '88), White.
Subs Not Used: McGeachie, Brass.
Booked: McAnespie, Stephen Weir, McClune, Thom.
Goals: Allison '9.
Rangers: Alexander, Argyriou (McKay '67), Perry, Emilson Cribari, Wallace, Faure, Black (Naismith '85), Macleod, Aird (Kyle '71), Shiels, McCulloch.
Subs Not Used: Gallacher, Crawford.
Booked: Aird, McCulloch.
Referee: Bobby Madden