Edinburgh City games are following a familiar pattern – tight, low scoring but winless despite a decent performance.
Away to Stirling Albion on Saturday was no different, Ross Kavanagh’s first-half strike winning an even game in which, again, City lacked an incisiveness in front of goal that’s seen them pick up just two points since the turn of the year.
“We didn’t play with real intensity in the first half,” said Gary Jardine. “I thought it was a very even game and we asked them to give their maximum, try and control the second half and not just go and get an equaliser, but to go and win the game – we felt it was there for us.
“I felt that after the performance in the second half, we definitely deserved something from the game, but we need to do it for 90 minutes. We played football the first half, we played to win in the second and were unfortunate not to take anything from the game.”
Chris Smith in the Stirling goal was the first keeper to be called in to action when Marc Laird’s header from an Aaron Dunsmore cross was, fortunately for the Binos, deflected straight in to his arms. Dunsmore himself then had a go but could only find the side netting. Stirling’s first attempt brought the opener on 15 minutes. Chris McKee wasn’t forceful enough when chasing a loose ball, allowing Kavanagh to run in before finishing well inside Andrew Stobie’s near post.
“It was a mistake from our centre half, but from Dave Mackay’s [Stirling manager] point of view, he’s pleased with the lad chasing the ball down,” said Jardine of the goal. “It’s a lovely finish, but for us it’s a mistake. That’s football though, you’re always going to make mistakes and we put more pressure on our backline by not scoring.”
Connor McLaren almost doubled the lead when his swirling free-kick drifted in at the back post, Stobie relieved to see it drop just over the bar. The City keeper had to produce a fine stop to prevent Blair Henderson netting a spectacular second. His volley from fully 30 yards almost sailed over Stobie, but he threw himself backwards to divert the ball out for a corner.
City imposed themselves more after the break, but struggled to create anything clear cut from promising positions. Some head tennis in the box preceded the ball falling to Ryan Porteous, but the off-balance defender volleyed well over from close range.
Josh Walker was inches from a second goal in as many games. His low free-kick was creeping in, only for Smith to get down and push it on the to the post, with City unable to convert the rebound.
The visitors somehow contrived not to level with just under 15 remaining. Dean Cummings took a great touch in the area before being tackled a few yards from goal. It summed up City’s afternoon when Marc Laird and Ross Guthrie got in each other’s way in attempting put the loose ball in.
Mackay believed it was all about the result rather than performance for his team. “I said to them at half-time, I don’t care what it takes second half,” he revealed. “If it’s an ugly, ugly win, as long as we keep a clean sheet, we win the game.
“At this time of the season, performances don’t really matter too much. I’d obviously prefer if it was a great one, but again, it’s more about the points and opening up a gap a the bottom. It takes us above Clyde and we’re only a point behind Berwick, so things are starting to look a bit better.”
Stirling Albion: Smith, McGeachie, Quigley, Smith, Colquhoun, Caddis, Henderson, Smith (Johnstone 65), McLaren (Black 79), Dickson, Kavanagh (Little 73).
Edinburgh City: Stobie, Dunsmore (Caddow 85), Porteous, Harrison (Gair 46), Walker, McKee, McFarland (Guthrie 46), Cummings, Allan, Laird, Donaldson.
Referee: Kevin Graham.