Stirling Albion manager Kevin Rutkiewicz was delighted to see his side start the season with an impressive 3-2 win over Cove Rangers on Saturday.
Winger Nathan Flanagan scored two goals on his memorable debut and was named the SPFL team’s star man of Day 1 for his exploits in the Premier Sports Cup draw.
Midfielder Rabin Omar also scored in his first appearance as the Binos claimed a shock victory at Balmoral Stadium, with Flanagan scoring a 94th-minute goal after Fraser Fyvie’s brace lifted Ligue 1 to level. eight minutes from the end.
Stirling is back on the north road on Saturday to face Inverness CT at Caledonian Stadium. Billy Dodds’ side did not play on day one and hosted Peterhead last night.
Skipper Ross McGeachie, midfielder Kurtis Roberts and new signing Dale Carrick and Ray Grant all missed the Cove game, but at least some of them should be available for the weekend.
It will be the teams’ first meeting since a 0-0 draw at Forthbank in this competition four years ago, with Caley Thistle winning the decisive penalty 2-0 after a flurry of missed penalties. Albion’s only visit to Inverness this millennium was for a Scottish Cup replay in January 2016, which was televised live on Sky Sports and ended in a 2-0 loss for the Binos.
Inverness made Kilmarnock defender Kirk Broadfoot their sixth new signing of the summer after Tom Walsh (Ayr United), Billy McKay (Ross County), Manny Duku (Raith Rovers), Reece McAlear (Norwich City, loan) and Michael Gardyne (Ross County).
Rutkiewicz knows his side will face another tough 90 minutes, but thinks they can be happy with the performance and the result against a strong side from Cove.
He said: “I’m delighted with the result – it’s a great way to start the season in a very difficult group where wins could be hard to come by. We gave up possession at times, but it would have been naïve to go out there and get involved in a gun shooting match.
“We tried to frustrate Cove when we were against the ball, but the important thing was to try to hurt them when we had it. The good thing is that we were very clinical – you have to score when you’re on top. The boys have invested a lot in the game so I’m glad they got their reward with a win. You could walk through the team – I thought it was a real team performance.
“We conceded a few goals and I think it was mainly due to fatigue, not just the time of the season, but the way Cove is playing. They move the ball from side to side and try to stretch the game – they’re a very good team.
Flanagan drew attention with two excellent goals, but Rutkiewicz knows the former St Mirren and Annan Athletic winger has him in his locker.
He added: “I’m not really surprised because I know his abilities. Both goals were class and he’s carried the ball a long way and also has that awareness and composure to hold back strong defenders while trying to finish – it’s not an easy thing to do.
“It’s great to see him in a Stirling jersey.”