|CM||7||Ross Ballantyne (vc)|
|15||Andy Ward (c)|
With the midweek trip to Threave called off due to adverse weather it was back to back home games for the Colts as they welcomed title chasing University of Stirling to Broadwood. In the reverse fixture at Forthbank, only three games into their debut season, Colts picked up their first win as a senior club and following last week's superb footballing display confidence would have been high among the Broadwood men.
This, however, was to be a significantly poorer footballing spectacle.
From a Colts perspective they never managed to find the same fluidity in their play, despite edging the possession in the early stages. Stirling, employing a more direct approach, seemed happy to invite the home side on and break quickly off Geddes whom they tried to find early at most opportunities. Neither side really created anything of note early on, a few efforts from distance all that had either keeper worried.
The first real chance fell to Colts and their top scorer O'Neill as slack play in the visitors defence saw a ball lofted back towards their keeper from the right side centre back. O'Neill though had read it and was always going to get there before the stopper, electing to take down on his chest rather than head over him from 12 yards into an empty net. The skilful attacker though couldn't get it down cleanly and the chance was gone.
Stirling had a good chance of their own shortly after as a long diagonal found Geddes peeling off at the back post. The forward took it down well before drilling low across goal as the angle was closing, Oliver clearing away at the back post in front of the supporting Stirling attacker.
Sludden and Geddes both had further efforts for Stirling, Black testing the away keeper for Colts after cutting in from the right before Duncan combined with O'Neill to fire low at goal from 8 yards, the effort turned around the post for a corner.
It was though the visitors who opened the scoring. A short defensive clearance picked up in midfield and Geddes played a quick one two with his wide man, finding his run unmatched as he entered the box and lofted over Fahey in the home goal under pressure from Ramsay from 8 yards.
It was a blow for the home side, but they should almost immediately have been back on terms. A ball in from the right was chested down 6 yards out by Selkirk, Barclay turning to see the ball at his feet and firing over the top on the bounce from 6 yards with the goal exposed.
And Colts missed another opportunity moments later as another low ball in from the right looked to be heading for Black for a tap in at the back post, the defender reacting quickest though and throwing himself to poke away. Black had another effort from just inside the area blocked for a corner, but 0-1 the sides went in for half time in what was a pretty poor game that Colts will feel they should have at worst been level in.
Into the second half and Kirwan replaced Black, Duncan moving forward one, but in truth it was much of the same other than a more robust approach by the visitors. This led to an early yellow card for their number 7 for a challenge on Munn in midfield.
As the game continued to become scrappy neither side was creating much in the way of chances, O'Neill with the first of the half for the home side as he robbed the Stirling captain on half way before driving towards goal, electing to chip from 18 yards rather than head into the box, the keeper gathering easily.
Ramsay then drilled a fine ball low across 6 yards after combining with Ballantyne and O'Neill on the left, the fullback entitled to ask where his teammates were centrally as it was left by the defence under little pressure.
Munn was replaced by Broadfoot with around half an hour to play and almost immediately following his introduction the home side found themselves playing against ten as the physical nature of the Stirling play went too far in the eyes of the official. A lunging tackle on O'Neill, while clipping the top of the ball caught the Colts player just below the knee, leading to a stramash involving all 22 players, the home side unhappy at the challenge.
The match official rightly produced a straight red, both sides fortunate not to see more cards as a result of the aftermath as the official took a good 4 minutes to consult with both linesman before pulling in both captains to calm the situation.
Pirrie came on to replace Barclay soon after as the Colts used the man advantage to keep their visitors under constant pressure, hemming them in without really managing to fashion any clear cut opportunities. A couple of efforts from distance and two headed efforts from corners about as much as they had to show for their efforts.
Fahey in the home goal became a virtual spectator bar for one rush off his line to head clear followed by a crowd pleasing tackle out for a throw as Colts were nearly caught on the break. In the context of the game it provided at least some entertainment for those in the stands!
With the visitors efforts to run down the clock leading to every break in play taking a lifetime to restart the game there was a somewhat bizarre moment as the referee pulled up O'Neill for running to retrieve the ball for a free kick awarded to Stirling. His assistant then advised him that he'd only had to do that because the Stirling player kicked the ball away which promptly led to a yellow card for the Stirling number 7, who most thought had already been booked for the challenge on Munn earlier, but no red. And to make matters worse Colts co-manager Orr was sent to the stands moments later for pointing out to the official that the ball had been kicked away again moments later.
Into the dying stages and it looked as though Stirling would hold on. Until the 94th minute that is when their captain dallied onto a ball lofted over the top and while looking to head back to the keeper was robbed by Selkirk, the forward showing great composure to get the ball down, round the keeper and tap into an empty net for 1-1. Colts, feeling they could still go on and win the game grabbed the ball for the restart, but their equaliser came too late and both sides had to settle for a point, probably the right result with neither team deserving of all three.
After the final whistle another flashpoint as the Stirling substitute lashed out at O'Neill, striking him in the face in full view of the far side assistant, a second red we understand handed out for the incident once the teams were in their dressing rooms.
For the Colts another point to add to their tally as they look to finish as high up the league as possible in their debut season as a senior club. For Stirling, a significant dent in their title challenge as it takes things out of their own hands, winning every game now meaning they need a favour from elsewhere if they are to overhaul City at the top.