Students expecting tough Scottish Cup test against Albion Rovers

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Marcus Lavery
Team captain Marcus Lavery

The University of Stirling’s history-making men’s football first team is gearing up for what could be a grudge match against Albion Rovers in the first round of the Scottish Cup.

Last year the students overcame Albion 1-0 to reach the last 32 – the first university side to get to that stage in more than 50 years. The historic run only ended when they came up against then Scottish premiership side Dundee United.

Head coach Chris Geddes is keen to put together another run this season but warned that the Albion side is even better than the one they faced last year. The students drew 2-2 with Albion in a recent Lowland League clash.

The Scottish Cup match on Monday will be televised live by BBC Scotland but it is hoped a big crowd will buy tickets and support the players at Forthbank Stadium in Stirling.

Chris Geddes said: “Some will think Albion are out for revenge after the result in last season’s Scottish Cup. They may think Albion has a point to prove. But actually, the squad has changed a lot since last year. I actually think the team they have now is better than the team we beat last year so it’s going to be a tough match.

“All the players will up their game – I know ours will – because it’s on the television. It’s a great shop window for the players. There will be a lot of eyes on it, including scouts. There will also be professional analysts assessing the performances. So, I know that the players will want to show people what they can do.

“It’s quite an occasion for both sets of players and their fans. I almost wish I was still playing. But I know it’s not about me. I’m all about developing my players now and getting the best out of them.

“Hopefully we’ll get a big crowd at Forthbank Stadium on the night to support the boys. It should be a brilliant atmosphere. Everyone is looking forward to it.”

Team captain Marcus Lavery, who plays at left back, was involved in the historic Scottish Cup run last season. He said: “We’re up for it and they will be too. We want another run. The Scottish Cup run last season was a huge achievement.

“I think this is the most evenly matched tie in the round. It will be a good one for the neutrals as well as the fans of both teams. There is no favourite.

“We really appreciated the support we got from the stands last season. We’re hoping for another big crowd on Monday night because it really lifts us and makes us feel like we can run all day.”

Sporting excellence

The University of Stirling is Scotland's University for Sporting Excellence, and the players and coaching staff benefit from world-class facilities providing the perfect training environment for sports scholars.

The setup is overseen by David Bond, the University’s Head of Performance Sport, who said: “We’re really proud of what Chris Geddes and his team achieved last year. They played 71 matches last season, 10 more than European Champions and English Premiership Champions Manchester City, which is incredible for a group of students who are also studying for degrees.

“We’re hoping for another run in the Scottish Cup this season. Chris is a brilliant coach and gets the best out of the players.

“I know Chris always wants to win matches and he instils that winning mentality in the players, but for us it’s not just about results. It’s about developing the players and making sure they are better by the time they graduate.

“By taking away the pressure that comes with a results-based model and focusing on player development, we ironically often find good results follow. This is our long-term strategy and it’s why Chris Geddes is one of the longest serving coaches in Scottish football.”

University of Stirling play Albion Rovers in the first round of the Scottish Cup on Monday, September 25 at 7:05pm and tickets are available here.

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