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STAR WIN BATTLE OF CHAMPIONS ON SATURDAY 9 FEBRUARY
Dalbeattie Star 1 Stirling University 0
Dalbeattie – Bell 85
A GOAL five minutes from time by sub Graeme Bell saw South champions Dalbeattie Star edge out South Challenge Cup holders and East champions Stirling University at Islecroft Stadium.
Bell’s diving header, the only goal of the match, clinched a semi-final place in the battle of the champions.
The visitors dominated the first half but had only one real chance when Jack Nixon’s shot was turned for a corner by Star keeper Graham Wright.
Then just before the interval Star should have gone ahead when Lewis Sloan set up Hugh Cameron but instead of shooting he cut the ball across and the Uni defence cleared.
The introduction of ex Annan striker Bell just before the interval turned the game completely and Star took command.
Bell and top scorer Scott Milligan were causing all sorts of problems and in 62 minutes they set up Lewis Sloan but his header brought an acrobatic save from keeper Kevin Walker.
In 75 minutes Bell’s flashing header was just off target but with five minutes left he got on the end of a perfect Lewis Sloan free kick and his header gave Walker no chance.
Star player/manager John MacBeth, who sat out the game because of a niggling injury said he was delighted:
“In the first half we were under pressure now and again but we were never really in any danger. We looked strong at the back.
“ In the second half we looked a completely different team. Graeme came on after Grant Parker was injured and he seemed to lift us a bit.”
Stirling manager, Eddie May was disappointed but added: “There wasn’t much in it. We were slightly better in the first half but it was never going to be a pretty game with the pitch being so heavy. There was nothing between the teams. It was just unfortunate they had a free kick and it went in.”
DALBEATTIE STAR: Wright, Maxwell, Wilson, Wells, MacPherson (capt), Fergusson, Cameron, Harkness, G Parker (Bell 42), Milligan, Sloan
Subs not used: McMurdo, Kerr, S Parker, Cathro
Yellow Cards: Wells
STIRLING UNIVERSITY: Walker (capt), Nixon, Sheridan, Atkins, Drummond, Nichol, Monguel (McWhirter 68), Robertson, Mason (Sutherland 81), Sludden, Pearson
Subs not used: Dale, McKee, Marshall