Flynn Duffy took a leaf out of Aziz Behich’s book when he rattled home his maiden senior goal.
The Tannadice kid’s firecracker finish against Bonnyrigg earlier this month helped Stirling Albion to a crucial 2-1 triumph; the first time he has rippled the net at any level since scoring in a friendly against Elche for United’s under-18s three years ago.
Nevertheless, his nerveless effort was one fellow left-back Behich — with four goals in 24 outings this term — would have been proud of as Duffy continues to enjoy a fine loan spell with the title-chasing Binos.
And Duffy is fulsome in his praise for the Australia international, insisting there is no-one better to learn from on a daily basis, while gaining valuable experience turning out in League Two.
🎯 A first senior goal for Flynn Duffy to equalise yesterday against Bonnyrigg Rose pic.twitter.com/8KPstznUWv
— Stirling Albion FC (@Stirling_Albion) March 12, 2023
“The modern day left-back needs to get up the pitch,” Duffy told Courier Sport. “It’s something I’ve been trying to add to my game and, in training, I’ve always had a good strike. I’ve got a decent finish in my locker.
“It’s about: how do I get up there and anticipate where the ball is going to drop?
“At United, Aziz (Behich) is a top person to look at if you want to be an attacking full-back. The goals he has scored have been superb and I still remember watching him against Argentina at the World Cup — almost running through their entire team!
“If you have a player at Dundee United who can perform at that level, then you’ve got to take every chance to gain knowledge.
Breaking into the Dundee United first team is the ultimate goal.
“You’ve got Aziz, who has played more than 50 games for Australia, and Charlie Mulgrew, who has played in the Champions League and won so many trophies.
“Any young boy should be looking at guys like that — their habits, training and behaviour off the pitch.”
“Taking the baton” from Kai Fotheringham
While Duffy can draw inspiration from experienced campaigners such as Behich and Mulgrew, it was a younger Tannadice teammate who set the wheels in motion for his January switch to Stirling.
Kai Fotheringham was a smash-hit with the Binos during the first half of the season, contributing a combined 17 goals and assists.
Those displays ultimately earned him a United recall, where he is starting to make his mark.
“It was actually Kai who mentioned Stirling Albion to me, and I really liked the idea of linking up with him on the left flank,” smiled Duffy. “Then we were in ONE squad together before he was recalled by United!
“But he was brilliant for me. He introduced me to everyone, showed me around the club and that helped me settle in.
“I’m so happy that Kai has gone back to United and hit the ground running. All the lads at Stirling are really proud of him. He was incredible during the first half of the season and I will try to take that baton from him.”
The final straight
Baton in hand, the finish line is in sight.
Dumbarton’s defeat against Ray McKinnon’s Forfar on Wednesday night means Stirling are two points ahead of the Sons at the summit of League Two — with a game in hand.
While Duffy remains professional and circumspect, with eight games still to play, he admits the prospect of claiming silverware at such a young age is a tantalising one.
“That (a title win) would be incredible,” he continued. “I didn’t expect to be in a title race at the start of the season and you need to appreciate these highs, because it’s not always like that in football.
“The team spirit, togetherness and camaraderie has been absolutely brilliant from the moment I arrived.
“To win the league would be something I’d remember for a very long time and we are doing everything we can to get over the line — but we’re not celebrating anything yet.”
And when his title charge at Stirling comes to its conclusion — for better or worse — Duffy’s focus will return to United, and his desire to add to his three senior appearances for the Tangerines.
He added: “Breaking into the Dundee United first team is the ultimate goal, especially having been there since I was a young boy.
“But it is a big club with good players and I know it is a challenge. My focus needs to be on Stirling Albion until the end of the campaign and, once that is over, it’s about being ready for pre-season and we’ll see what the next step is.”