It may take considerable time for the players and management of Edinburgh City to comprehend just how they came up short in their league encounter with East Kilbride at Meadowbank on Saturday.
Visiting striker Chris McDougall’s close range finish just before the half-hour mark was enough to give the side from South Lanarkshire all three points in a match the hosts completely dominated from start to finish.
The frame of the goal also came to the visitors’ aid twice as the home side simply bombarded the East Kilbride rearguard for long spells of what was a completely one-sided affair.
A rather bewildered manager Gary Jardine was left to rue his side’s failure to convert the opportunities that came his side’s way, but was more than pleased with the performance and application shown from his men.
“We missed some superb chances, but, on the face of it, we played so well,” Jardine said. “I said before the game we have changed our attitude and the way we approach games now. Looking at our stats, we had over 20 shots on goal and that is pleasing because it never really happened during the first half of the season. Had we won, it would have taken us up two places in the league.
“It is frustrating, but I am not as down as I normally would be after a defeat because everything we have been working on in training as come to fruition in the game. It happens at any level. We just have to move on.”
City captain Dougie Gair twice had efforts on goal within the opening five minutes, his first attempt only a couple of inches wide of goalkeeper Ian Stewart’s right-hand post.
Aaron James was heavily involved in all of City’s good play down the left side as they continued to attack at a frenzied pace.
The ball broke kindly to Gair once again just inside the East Kilbride penalty area, but his effort was way off target, much to the disgust of the player himself.
Then, completely out of the blue, East Kilbride winger Scott Hadden’s audacious effort from 25 yards rattled Andrew Stobie’s crossbar as the visitors made a rare plunge into City territory.
This must have instilled some inspiration as East Kilbride then took a surprise lead when a free-kick floated to the back post from the left side was met by Sean Fitzharris’ half volley, which Stobie could only parry into the path of McDougall, who was on hand to knock in from close range.
Gair should have equalised almost immediately when he pounced on Stephen Bronsky’s loose ball, but Stewart saved the blushes of his defender as he blocked the No.8’s effort before Ross Guthrie was through again after a moment of madness in the visitors’ back-line and Stewart was called into action for a second time.
A long ball over the top just before the interval then picked out the run of Gair, whose angled shot cannoned back off the foot of the right post to deny City once again.
Minutes into the second half, a sprint to the by-line by James resulted in a perfect cross, but the normally composed Gair failed to hold his nerve for the umpteenth time as his shot drifted over the bar.
The hosts must have thought they had finally restored parity when Jordan Caddow’s cross was met by substitute Mark McConnell in space, but, from four yards, he somehow headed over.
The same two then combined again with McConnell pulling his shot wide left of the target from 12 yards before McConnell, again, spurned another great opportunity from Peter Stenhouse’s neat pass.
Relentless pressure ensued in the remaining ten minutes on the visiting defence as McConnell turned provider this time, his square pass fired towards goal by Daryl Devlin, with the ball just rising over Stewart’s bar from the edge of the penalty. Then James fed Ian McFarland, whose left-footed effort came crashing back off the left post in the final minute to compound City’s frustrations.
Edinburgh City: Stobie, Caddow, Donaldson, Mauro, Paterson, Burgess (McConnell 65), Devlin, Gair, Guthrie (McFarland 71), Torrance (Stenhouse 76), James. Subs: Donaldson, Mackintosh.
East Kilbride: Stewart, Murdoch, Traynor, Woods, Bronsky, McLeish, Fitzharris, Daw, McDougall (Graham 78), McLaughlin (Duncan 73), Hadden (Atha 57). Subs: Tierney, Craig.