Civil Service Strollers 3
Edinburgh City 2
A LATE goal from the Strollers striker Danny Rennie ensured a win to take them into second place in the Central Taxis Premier Division, their highest position since league reconstruction in 1986.
The quality of play from both sides in difficult windy conditions on a heavy, although perfectly playable surface, was exceptional with the Strollers having the slight edge both with and against the elements.
Rennie’s winning goal came in the 76th minute when the pacey Scott Gormley broke free on the left and released Rennie who ran on to score with an accurate shot from the edge of the penalty box. “It was obviously bad conditions but you just have to deal with that,” said Rennie. “We had a game plan and we stuck to it and were happy that we got the correct result. It was easier to keep the ball playing against the wind. Chances were not coming for us in the second half but fortunately Gormley fought well for the ball and it fell to me which he was not too happy about as he always wants to score!”
The Strollers won the toss and elected to play against the wind, a decision which proved to be correct when they created the better early opportunities. First, Rennie pulled a shot wide from 16 yards from a good position then Chris Inglis fired over an inviting cross before Craig Dickson had a shot deflected for a corner.
The Strollers did open the scoring in the 12th minute when a Craig Anderson cross from wide on the left was volleyed first time into the net by John Dunn from eight yards out. Rennie was guilty of missing another gilt-edged chance shortly afterwards before City rallied. Robbie Ross had an effort deflected for a corner then the Strollers defender Murray Fraser cleared a Ruaraidh Scott shot off the goalline before Paul Devlin and Grant Vanson fired shots high over the bar.
In the 38th minute referee John Weir awarded City a penalty kick but after consulting with his young assistant he correctly changed his decision to a corner kick.
There was only one minute of the first half left when the Strollers increased their advantage. Rennie picked out Inglis on the left with a pin-point pass and the attacking midfield player hit a crisp first-time shot from 20 yards low into the far corner behind Andrew Stobie.
However, in the remaining few seconds of the first half City’s Devlin hit the crossbar then Ian McFarland released Douglas Gair who rounded Paul Cadger and stroked the ball into the empty net to make the half-time score 2-1.
The Strollers almost regained their two-goal advantage soon after the break when Gerri Burgess hit the post with a wind assisted 45 yard free-kick.
City equalised on the hour when, in a breakaway, they earned a corner. Andy Howat’s flag kick was inexplicably handled high in the air by Michael Sommerville and Gair slotted the resultant penalty kick low past Cadger’s left side.
The Strollers, with the benefit of the strong breeze, enjoyed the majority of the possession without unduly troubling Stobie in the City goal although he did produce a fine save from a Neil Campbell free-kick.
Strollers won the game fourteen minutes from time when the galloping Gormley advanced behind his marker and set up Rennie to score the vital third goal.
Garry Aitchison, the Strollers manager, said: “The conditions played a big part although I thought that both teams coped with them very well and tried to play football. I was very pleased with our first-half performance shooting into the wind when we scored a couple of good goals.
“In the second half we kept our shape even although City kept coming at us. We got a break near the end to score and Danny deserved the goal because his work rate was superb. I also have to commend the match officials who had a great game.”
Gary Jardine, the City co-manager, said: “We have a style of play and unfortunately our players didn’t adapt to the conditions. We like to get the ball down and pass it although I would not criticise my players for trying to play football.
“We found it difficult to get any momentum. The Strollers played well.The conditions spoiled the game and the Strollers adapted better than us.”
Civil Service Strollers: Cadger, Burgess, Sommerville, Fraser, Anderson, Dickson (Lynch, 81), Inglis (Shiels, 72), Dunn, Rennie, Gormley (Jeffreys, 85), Campbell. Subs: Leslie, McDougall.
Edinburgh City: Stobie, Cennerazzo, Scott, Harrison (MacFarlane, 29), Torrance (Fernandez, 80), McFarland, Vanson, Gair, Ross (Dick, 80), Devlin, Howat. Subs: Garcia, MacKintosh.