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University of Stirling footballers bid to make history in Scottish Cup

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University of Stirling Head Coach Chris Geddes says his team his fully focused on their Scottish Cup clash against Elgin City.

Student footballers from the University of Stirling are aiming to make history this weekend as they take on Elgin City in the third round of the William Hill Scottish Cup.

The men’s first team – who have never previously reached the third round – are bidding to become the first ever university side to progress to the fourth round of the national cup competition, where they could draw Scottish Premiership opponents, including Celtic, Rangers, Hibs or Hearts.

Hundreds of fans – including University students, staff and the wider Stirling community – are expected to turn out for this Saturday’s 3pm kick-off at Forthbank Stadium.

Chris Geddes, Men’s Football Head Coach, said that while supporters are dreaming of glamour ties in the next round, his team – currently 13th in the Scottish Lowland Football League – are fully focused on the challenge posed by Elgin City, fifth in Ladbrokes League Two.

“The feeling in the squad is great and our preparations are no different from normal – but everybody here knows how big this game is,” explained Geddes. “This is our biggest game of the season so far – and, for some members of the team, it will be the biggest game that they’ve ever played in.

“It is going to be a tough match; Elgin are a semi-professional team with seasoned players who have played at the top level. We know it’s going to be difficult, so we are going to give them the respect that they are due – but we are also going out there confident that we can get a result for ourselves, for the University, and for our family and friends.”

Asked what a win would mean to the team, Geddes added: “You can dare to dream – and there’s nothing wrong with that – but we have to keep that in check, respect Elgin and focus on Saturday.

“It is already a great achievement for this team – a group of students – to make the third round of the Scottish Cup. For me, if we were to qualify for the fourth round, it would be an unbelievable achievement.”

Lewis Hunter
It’s a big occasion for the University and everybody is looking forward to the game. This is the furthest the University has got in the competition – so it’s one of the biggest games that we have played in.
Lewis Hunter Captain, University of Stirling Football Club

The team overcame two Highland League sides in the first two rounds of the competition. In their first round match at Forthbank on September 23, they won 2-1 against Keith, thanks to first half goals from Blair Oliver Lyons and Kieran Hall.

Geddes’ side then travelled to Princess Royal Park in Banff, Aberdeenshire, to take on Deveronvale in the second round on October 20. Lewis Bonar gave Stirling the lead from the penalty spot on 60 minutes, before Deveronvale equalised just four minutes later. But Dominic Paul Slattery sent Stirling marching into the third round with another 2-1 win after slotting home at the back post.

Club captain Lewis Hunter is confident that the players can continue their excellent cup form when they take to the pitch on Saturday.

“The boys are confident and we believe that we can get a positive result,” Hunter said. “It’s a big occasion for the University and everybody is looking forward to the game. This is the furthest the University has got in the competition – so it’s one of the biggest games that we have played in.

“But we have a good squad and it’s a cup game, so we know that anything can happen. We are working hard in training this week, and we will hopefully take that into the game on Saturday. We have to be confident after the way we have played in the last two rounds.

“We are fully focused on the Elgin match but, of course, it would be brilliant if we could qualify for the next round. We could get anybody in the hat – like Celtic or Rangers, or another big team.”

The University is encouraging people to come along and support the team as they bid to make history this weekend. Tickets – competitively priced at £8 for adults, £4 for concessions and £2 for Stirling students – are on sale this week in the University Atrium and fans will also be able to pay at the gate.

Cathy Gallagher

Cathy Gallagher believes the Scottish Cup tie will be an "amazing occasion" for the University.

Cathy Gallagher, Director of Sport at the University, said: “This is a hugely significant day – and feat – for the University of Stirling. To have university sport represented at this stage of a national cup competition is excellent – not only for Stirling but for the higher education sector as a whole.

“Elgin are a good side and are obviously competing in a higher league than the University, but our team is training really hard and they are on a good run, with confidence and momentum behind them. It’s not going to be easy – but it’s a very winnable match.

“It is going to be an amazing occasion for our players, coaches, staff and students – and for the wider Stirling community too. I encourage football fans from across the region to come on down and really get behind the guys. We want to create a great atmosphere on this momentous day – so get along to Forthbank and be part of something special.”

The University of Stirling has six football teams – both senior and amateur sides – and the students benefit from world-class on-campus facilities, including seven grass and two artificial pitches, as well as a state-of-the-art fitness centre. The dedicated coaches are supported by strength and conditioning experts, physiotherapists, and sports scientists, while several players have the opportunity to combine their studies with high performance football through a scholarship programme.

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