City skipper Gair strikes but Whitehill rue referee’s calls

Mark McConnell takes control for Edinburgh City at Meadowbank. Picture: Toby Wiliams

Mark McConnell takes control for Edinburgh City at Meadowbank. Picture: Toby Wiliams

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Edinburgh City captain Dougie Gair’s second-half strike gave the home side all three points in their Lowland League Cup clash with Whitehill Welfare at a rain-soaked Meadowbank Stadium.

With City getting their first win of the group under their belts, Section B has taken a sudden twist as last week’s group leaders Spartans were defeated on home soil at the expense of Stirling University leaving qualification for the semi-finals very much in the balance.

Gair struck midway through the second half moments after the visitors had winger Steven Manson dismissed for a second yellow card after referee Mark McHendry felt the No.7 had gone down too easily under a challenge from a City defender in the penalty area.

Goalscorer Gair said: “I thought the game might have been in doubt, but the drainage here at Meadowbank is pretty good. It was a tough game, they started on fire but we weathered the storm and I think we deserved the three points for our second-half performance.

“Our objective is to get out the group so we just need to approach Stirling in the right way and try and get another win.”

It was visitors Whitehill, though, who were the more composed in the early stages, passing the ball around with some authority on a slick surface and attacking their opponents at will.

Striker Wayne McIntosh was the first to have an effort on goal as he profited from strike partner Aaron Somerville’s clever lay off, but his shot zipped just wide of Andrew Stobie’s right-hand post. A terrific interchange up the right side involving Manson and Wayne Sproule almost presented the former with an opening as City struggled to clear their lines.

Andrew Kidd then cut in from the right and his snapshot almost sneaked in at Stobie’s near post, but the City No.1 just managed to get his fingertips to the ball to turn it round the post.

The hosts gradually started to assert some pressure of their own in the Whitehill half as Ross Guthrie hit a thunderous half volley from 30 yards which Bryan Young had to gather at the second attempt.

But City’s best chance fell to Peter Stenhouse who managed to get above his marker, but the 23-year-old could only head a tame effort straight at the Whitehill No.1.

The Midlothian outfit then had not one, but two penalty shouts waved away in the closing stages of the first half. Firstly, Manson’s cross from the right appeared to strike the arm of City defender Dominico Gibson before Manson was subsequently upended in the penalty area by Gordon Donaldson, a decision that enraged the little winger as he was booked for his protests.

With heavy rain a dreary sight for the return of the players for the second half, it was Whitehill who again came closest to opening the scoring when McIntosh’s intelligent header into the path of Kidd brought out a tremendous save from Stobie after the midfielder’s first time effort. The match then turned in City’s favour on 62 minutes when Manson was dismissed after being shown a second yellow card for simulation – a decision that was met with disgust by the Whitehill management team.

Then, to rub salt into the wounds, the home side gained the initiative on 68 minutes with the only goal of the game when a cross from the right from Gerry Burgess was turned in at the back post by a composed Gair, who finished with ease.

City should have doubled their lead when substitute Ryan Wilson was through on goal, but wasted his opportunity by firing straight into the arms of Young.

To compound Whitehill’s misery further, McIntosh was sent off late on for a second booking for lashing out at Frazer Paterson.

Whitehill manager Mickey Lawson was unimpressed with some of the decisions that went against his side, but took some positives from his players’ endeavours.

Lawson said: “Normally a game of football is decided by the players, but I think the game wasn’t decided by both sets of players and that’s as far as I am going to say on that front.

“We started brightly, should have gone ahead and probably rue the fact that we didn’t. We could had have had two penalties in the first half and one in the second. It’s very difficult for the players to take. We fought hard and I cannot fault the players for their efforts.”

Edinburgh City: Stobie, Burgess, Gibson, Donaldson, Paterson, McFarland (Osborne 81), Torrance, Gair, Guthrie (Devlin 68), Stenhouse (Wilson 72), McConnell. Subs: Caddow, Mackintosh.

Whitehill Welfare: Young, McGlashan, McLaughlin (Martin 68), Bruce, Hall (Noon 76), Sproule, Manson, Kidd, McIntosh, Somerville (Dodds 68), Thom. Subs: Shearer, Dolan.