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Thistle thrashed as footballers secure Alex Jack Cup

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Stirling University FC 8-0 Lothian Thistle FC
Alex Jack Cup Final

Stirling University FC notched eight goals without reply to secure their first ever East of Scotland cup at The Falkirk Stadium on Sunday.

A brace each for Michael Pentland and Abraham Keller and goals for Jason Atkins, Liam Corr, Craig Mason and Creag Robertson sank luckless Lothian, who saw midfielder Ean Grieve sent off early on in the Alex Jack Cup Final.

Team captain Lee Nichol lifted the Cup and the former Falkirk U19 playmaker is determined it won’t be the last taste of success for the Stirling side which only joined the East of Scotland Leagues two years ago.

Nichol said: “I didn’t think it was going to be as easy a first trophy as it turned out to be, but Lothian were always going to find it hard being down to 10 men and four goals down at half-time. Still, we had to give 100 percent and it was great to see so many of the team get in amongst the goals.

“It’s an honour to be the captain of the side to win the first Cup and it is another step forward for our young team. We want to win as many cups as we can and challenge for the Premier title. To win the final the way we have will give the guys a lot of confidence for the rest of the season.”

Stirling are currently second in the Premier Division, but a recent dip in league form was far from evident as the student outfit blew their opponents away from the off.

A vocal Stirling support had just 13 minutes to wait before the deadlock was broken, Atkins heading home from two yards out after a corner to the back post was directed back into his path.

And two minutes later, Thistle had a mountain to climb as Grieve saw red following a reckless lunge on Corr in midfield.

An already wide Falkirk pitch must have felt like crossing the Sahara desert for Thistle as the students set about stretching play at every opportunity. Calum Scott had a pop from distance then Atkins dragged a back post shot wide before the they doubled their advantage with 25 minutes gone.

In a sweeping move from their own penalty box, Tully broke forward and exchanged passes with Corr before feeding Mark McCullagh on the right. The nippy right-back impishly knocked the ball past the covering Lothian defender and his driven cross broke kindly back off the Lothian keeper Kevin Swain for Pentland, who made no mistake from close range.

Swain required extensive treatment having been clattered by his own defender and he had barely got back to his feet before it was game over. Towering striker Emmot Parr-Gallagher worked some space on the left and his cross was neatly dummied by Mason for the advancing Pentland to rifle in his second and Stirling’s third.

Pentland, a Marketing student, was putting on a great personal display and before the break his shot was spilled into the path of former Stirling Albion midfielder Corr, who showed quick feet to evade the last-ditch tackles before steering the ball home.

The agony continued for Lothian in the second half, with their sub keeper - defender James Young - also conceding four. Welsh striker Mason, pictured right, was rewarded for his tireless display, sweeping Corr’s cross into the net on 55 minutes.

It was to be the duo’s final contribution, replaced by Danny Denholm and Swiss striker Keller. And it was the latter who grabbed goal number six, making no mistake from 12-yards after Parr-Gallagher had seen his shot blocked.

A wholly one-sided encounter, Stirling keeper Sam Filler could have been forgiven for drifting off, but he was finally called into action with 15 minutes to go, holding a Thistle free-kick with ease.

Thistle’s misery was then compounded as Keller struck his second before left-back Robertson bundled the ball over the line for Stirling’s eighth.

Delighted coach Stevie Burchill said: “I was very pleased with the attitude of the players. From start to finish, they kept trying to do things properly, stuck to the game plan and got their rewards. It was an excellent team performance to win what will hopefully be the first of many trophies.”

Stirling University FC: Filler, McCullagh, Atkins, Drummond, Robertson, Scott, Nichol, Corr (Denholm), Pentland (Dalrymple), Parr-Gallagher, Mason (Keller). Subs not used: Walker and Neilson.

On Saturday (27 November) the University is away to Tynecastle FC, kick-off 2pm at Balgreen.

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