Stenhousemuir Community Club earned a hard-fought League Cup section stage victory against Alloa Saints on Saturday. Saints started strongly in the first half, settling into their rhythm quicker than the visitors. They took the lead mid-way through the first half, with standout player Jamie Lee scrambling home from close range. However, Stenhousemuir equalised on the stroke of half time through a Tiwi Daramola penalty and went on to earn a 4-1 victory with 2 more goals from Daramola and a Max Rintoul strike capping off a well-earned victory.
Although the weather conditions were perfect for football, the bumpy playing surface proved difficult for Stenhousemuir to adapt to in the early stages. The home side looked to take advantage of this, applying good pressure on the Stenhousemuir defenders as they attempted to play out from the back.
Saints had the better of the early exchanges, with Lee getting involved and pulling the strings at every opportunity. He seemed to be everywhere in the opening 20 minutes, linking up well with striker Ross Gilvear in particular.
However, the first real chance fell to the away side, with a ball over the Saints defence sending Mitchell Wallace through on goal. Saints goalkeeper Charles Dawson was off his line quickly and made himself big to foil Wallace’s effort on goal, and recovered his position well to save the rebound from Jake Shearer.
Stenhousemuir continued to grow into the game and came close to taking the lead. Ross Buchanan was unlucky to miss the target after meeting a dangerous corner kick from Jack Donaldson at the back post.
The visitors went close again soon after when Stenhousemuir standout Daramola beat the offside trap to get on the end of a through pass by Shearer. Once again, Dawson was off his line quickly, this time forcing Daramola to place his lobbed effort just over the bar.
Lee continued to be at the heart of the action for Saints, showing some clever footwork to open up an opportunity for a long range shot which resulted in a routine save for Robbie Lyall in the Stenhousemuir goal.
Daramola proved difficult to deal with for the Saints defenders, winning several free kicks during the course of the game in various areas of the pitch. Donaldson’s quality of set piece was excellent, and he was unfortunate not to find a teammate or the far corner of the goal from 25 yards after Daramola was brought down on the right flank.
Saints continued to apply high pressure to the visitors, and it nearly paid off when Martin Ramage won the ball near the edge of the Stenhousemuir box, laying it off to Breandan McDade who was unlucky to see his cross flash past his teammates as well as the far post.
Saints’ strong start was rewarded midway through the first half. Inevitably, Lee was at the heart of the action, winning a corner and scoring from the resulting delivery. The ball was whipped in to the 6-yard box, and Lee was able to divert the ball home in the ensuing scramble after the visitors were unable to clear their lines.
Lee could have doubled his tally for the day soon after when he got on the end of an Aiden Turner free kick from deep, but he was unable to get the correct contact on the ball to divert it goalward.
Saints looked dangerous from throw-ins throughout the first half, and had another opportunity to extend their lead; this time through Aiden Cruickshank. After a long throw-in evaded Lyall due to a difficult bounce at the front post, the ‘keeper recovered well to stop Cruickshank from taking advantage.
The home side had yet another chance to make it 2-0 before the break. Stenhousemuir’s corner kick was collected calmly by Saints ‘keeper Dawson, who sent Gilvear through on goal straight from his long kick. However, he shot wide after showing great pace to get himself clear of the visitors’ defence.
Soon after, Saints were made to pay for not taking their chances as they were pegged back on the stroke of half time. Daramola was played through over the top once again, using his pace to great effect to beat a fully committed Dawson to the ball and win a penalty from the resulting coming together. The pacey forward stepped up to take the penalty and slotted it home confidently to Dawson’s left, sending his side in level at half time after an entertaining first period.