Scottish Sun Lowland League Saturday, 18 October, 2014 Stirling Uni 1-1 Gretna 2008 Stirling University stretched their league unbeaten streak to eight games, as a first half goal from Owen Kelly proved enough to clinch a point from their travels.

The students kicked off with a heavy wind at their backs, looking to continue their recent run of good form. The weather seemed insistent on causing havoc, as it proved early on that the gusts would cause difficulties for both sides.

Gretna, currently sitting mid-table in the Lowland League, looked to force their dominance on the visitors early. Doing well to keep the ball, the visitors put pressure on the home side from the opening whistle.

It only took Stirling 15 minutes to take the lead though, as striker Kelly found his third of the season. Against the run of play, defender Calum Burns did well to find the second year student, who finished well from just outside the box.

Gretna continued pressing the students immediately. Defensively, Stirling held up well against their opponents pelting, with Creag Robertson and James Drummond doing well to keep the home side at bay.

Gretnas’ attacking strength proved too much for the students though, as it took only five minutes before the sides were back on equal terms. After collecting the ball just inside the half, Iain Anderson drove at the heart of the Stirling defence, leaving goalkeeper Ryan Marshall helpless as the strikers looping effort floated into the top corner.

The match continued as it had, with Gretna finding the better of the opportunities. Stirling did well to find opportunities whenever they could, whilst having to sustain long periods of pressure.

Using the wind to their advantage, midfielders Tomos Jones and Gary Crooks looked to connect with Chris Geddes and Kelly over the top of the Gretna defence. Midfielders George Leigh and Charles Docherty played their part as well as the match wore on, displaying some pivotal defensive tackles all over the park.

By half time, the students had grown into the match, despite Gretna having the better opportunities. Despite coming close through Geddes and Kelly, Stirling were left thanking defender Ben Cuff, who’s goal line clearance minutes before half time meant the students weren’t forced to go searching for an equaliser.

With the wind on their side, Gretna looked just as potent, as the home side threatened to go ahead early in the second half, if not for a brilliant save by Marshall.

Stirling found themselves defending time and time again, as Gretna looked to seemingly force the ball down the park. The students did well to keep them at bay, leaving the home side supporters annoyed and frustrated.

As the match wore on, the weather began to play a major part on the match, as the winds grew to a point where neither team could really maintain possession of the ball.

Realising all three points were out for the taking, manager Shelley Kerr brought on trio Andy Gillen, Jeff Kessie, and Khan Williams in the hopes that they could help find that clinching goal.

The wind proved to have the final say on the day, as the match ended 1-1, with neither team really able to put on a game-winning second half display.

Despite finding opportunities late in the match, Stirling were happy to take a point back home, in what would be seen as a good result against a difficult away fixture.

This Wednesday, the 1st XI find themselves traveling south again as they travel to Loughborough in their midweek British University League match. It will prove to be a tough week of three away matches for the students, as they travel away to Preston Athletic in the South Region Challenge Cup.

The 2nd XI will return to league play this Saturday as they take on Civil Service Strollers, kick-off 2.30pm.

Stirling XI: Marshall, Burns, Cuff, Drummond, Robertson, Leigh (Kessie), Jones (Williams), Crooks, Geddes, Kelly (Gillen), Docherty. Subs not used: Birch, Monguel, Sutherland, Hughes.