It's comforting to report that concerns over the demise of football's authenticity have yet to reach this part of the world.

This part of the world, of course, being Coatbridge; where the young team are the Ultras and the subs fill in as ball boys where required. There's a danger of straying into cliche territory when it comes to banging on about how there's nothing quite like the Scottish Cup.

But it's difficult to frame it any other way on afternoons like this, where history is forged and memories that last a lifetime are made. There's certainly not many places like Cliftonhill, the home of Albion Rovers.

Even before a ball's been kicked, the occasion has all the hallmarks of a day at the third round. Laptop precariously balanced on a ledge, teamsheet secured from blowing off in the wind by a strategically placed cup of tea, temperature dropping at an alarming rate.

The Herald: Fans feel the CliftonhillFans feel the Cliftonhill (Image: Colin Mearns)

Now all we need is a game of football to match. If not, at least there's the patter on the terraces.

"I've been in The Herald before," one Rovers fan tells Colin, our photographer. "Do you ever read the court reports?"

Should they lose here, it'll be his team in the dock.

Hosting the University of Stirling, Rovers' status as the SPFL club puts a bit of pressure on Brian Reid's team. Their place at eighth in League Two jars somewhat with the fact they're unbeaten in their last six matches. But here they face a Stirling Uni side who are in pole position to win promotion from the Lowland League at the half way mark.

It must be an odd scenario for Reid and his team; sitting in the bottom half of the fourth tier yet fancied by the bookies to take a place in the fourth round alongside the country's biggest clubs. Yet again, though, that's the Scottish Cup and the opportunities it offers.

Maybe it's a touch of nerves, maybe it's that the Uni are a very handy outfit, but it's the visitors who start the brighter.

A quick break allows Ciaran McAninch to sting the palms of Jack Leighton in the Rovers goal before James Stokes' clipped cross from the right brushes the top of the bar. It's the first of a few early opportunities for Stirling, upon which they fail to capitalise.

The Herald: The Scottish Cup third round came to CoatbridgeThe Scottish Cup third round came to Coatbridge (Image: Colin Mearns)

Some uncertain Rovers defending allows the ball to drop to Jason Jarvis in the box but he doesn't at all get hold of a shot that trundles harmlessly wide. At the other end, the lively Jamie Leslie sends another daisy cutter past Stirling keeper Ben Fry's right hand post.

The chance of the half, however, falls to Stirling's Cameron McKinley. An inswinging free-kick from the right finds the forward with the freedom of Coatbridge but he can only direct a tame header straight into the arms of a grateful Leighton.

As half-time approaches, there's a lengthy break in play as Rovers' Liam Fagan falls awkwardly after he rises to meet a header and is stretchered from the field in some distress.

It's a horrible moment and one that saps some of the atmosphere from the terraces. The stoppage, however, seems to benefit Rovers, who grow into proceedings albeit without really threatening to breach Fry's goal.

Tense, is about the only way to describe it as the teams head to the dressing for a breather and the queue for the lone pie stall just about stretches back to Glasgow city centre. These are two mostly young sides, playing for what could next be the biggest day of their careers.

A place in the fourth round brings with it some incredible possibilities, not least the prospect of a trip to Celtic Park or Ibrox. That's reflected in the tenacity on show, certainly, and it's Stirling, in particular, who are all over Rovers when play restarts.

"Want the ball!" Reid bellows from the touchline, aware his side are coming off second best. They escape again when Jarvis can't take a through ball in his stride, then come to life themselves as Charlie Reilly strikes the post and Callum Wilson blazes the rebound well over the bar.

As time ticks away, the only certainty is this will end cruelly for someone, and when Rovers are awarded a stoppage time penalty - an unfortunately placed pole makes it difficult to tell why - it seems it's Stirling who'll be heading home with a sense of regret.

The Cliftonhill masses had been admirably patient with their toiling side but when Reilly sends his spot-kick hurtling into orbit, that goodwill is seriously tested.

And thus, on we went into 30 minutes of extra time in which Stirling may just have felt it wasn't going to happen. First, after McKinley's brilliant run and shot prompted a goalmouth scramble that eventually came to nothing, and second as Euan McGill bore down on goal only to be denied by a last-ditch Blair Malcolm challenge.

But when James Russell broke free down the right, he squared for McGill - finally, at last - to slot into an open goal. It's been a long 120 minutes but it's worth it for the scenes that follow - pure, unbridled joy for the young lads in the green strips, as well as for the noisy contingent they've brought with them.

The Herald: A late, late goal wins it for Stirling UniA late, late goal wins it for Stirling Uni (Image: Colin Mearns)

It's history, too. No university team has ever gone so far in this famous old competition.

Manager Chris Geddes is last to leave the pitch, immediately on FaceTime to his family, quite possibly regretting agreeing to picking his dad up for a work night out, taking the possibility of a few pints of his own off the table.

When he does eventually come pitchside, the magnitude of the occasion hits home and it’s almost a bit too much for him.

“I’m not scared to say it, I feel like crying," he confesses. "The emotions there… wow.

“I’ve been here a long time and we’ve played a lot of pro teams in the Scottish Cup and we’ve never played like that. When you play these teams you need a bit of luck, a missed penalty in the last minute.

“I’m so proud of them. It’s testament to the team, the players, the programme.

“We had three or four big chances in the first 25 minutes and you do start wonder if it’s going to be one of those days.

“I can’t say enough about my players, it’s history. No Uni team has ever been in the fourth round. For us to get there is unbelievable.

The Herald: Joy at full-time for Chris Geddes and his playersJoy at full-time for Chris Geddes and his players (Image: Colin Mearns)

“The scenes at the end, I love that. When that goal went in, I’ve never felt like that in football, even as a player – and I scored a few in the Scottish Cup myself.

“For those young lads to beat paid professionals, it’s memories. I just want a good day out now for the boys because let’s face it, are there any teams that they would go in against as favourites? Probably not.

“But if we somehow got one of those Premiership teams… well, get your new breeks!”