“It looks like we’ve blown it,” admitted Craigroyston assistant manager Gary Sutherland as his side’s Central Taxis Premier Division title hopes suffered a significant dent in defeat to Stirling University.
Sutherland’s side trailed to Elliot Sutcliffe’s opener for much of the match but may have thought they had secured a share of the spoils as Kyle Boggie levelled with five minutes to play. However, a late strike by Stirling’s Steven Forbes saw the home side, themselves also in the title hunt, seal victory and move to within three points of leaders Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale.
Sutherland said: “It was a very poor and disjointed performance all round. We couldn’t string two passes together. There was no tempo, no urgency, and our decision-making was terrible.”
Craigie’s defeat leaves them four points off the pace having played three games more than Lothian and two more than Stirling. Given the St Mark’s Park men have just three league games remaining, it seems unlikely that a championship bid will come to fruition, especially given the fine form of first-placed Lothian.
At the foot of the top tier, Heriot-Watt University and Civil Service Strollers have been left marooned six points from safety on ten points each after the teams immediately above them both gained wins.
Watt failed to capitalised on the opportunity to go level on points with hosts Leith Athletic as they went down to a last-minute Jamie Lauder penalty at Meadowbank 3G.
Heriot-Watt boss Chris Smith said: “It’s a tough result for us to take. Although Leith were the better side in the first half, after we changed the shape we got into the game more and managed to retain possession of the ball a little better.”
Coldstream also left Watt and Civil trailing in their wake by beating Spartans 2-0 at Home Park.
Premier Division league leaders Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale were on cup duty, confirming their qualification for the League Cup quarter-final stage via a first-place finish in Qualifying League Section A. Lothian ran out 3-1 winners Kelso United thanks to a superb Scott Moffat double and Connor McDonald’s strike. Like Kelso, Tynecastle, who drew 1-1 at Civil Service Strollers, will enter the League Cup preliminary round after finishing just behind Lothian in the group. Tynie have been drawn at home to Leith Athletic, with the winner of that tie facing a trip to face Lothian in the last-eight stage of the competition.