Edinburgh City have 'three cup finals' after defeat to promotion rival

Edinburgh City manager Gary Naysmith has urged his players to go and win “three cup finals” and secure a shot at promotion to League One.

Sunday, 25th April 2021, 5:17 pm
Edinburgh City manager Gary Naysmith (right) and assistant Grant Murray. Pic: Lisa Ferguson
Edinburgh City manager Gary Naysmith (right) and assistant Grant Murray. Pic: Lisa Ferguson

The Citizens went down to a first-half stoppage time strike from Stirling Albion’s Dylan Mackin as the Binos moved level on points with the Capital outfit in second place.

Stranraer, who inflicted a first defeat on League Two champions Queen’s Park 24 hours previously, are just a point adrift in fourth as the race for the play-offs heats up.

Elgin City are currently five points further back in fifth and face an uphill challenge if they are to break into the top four.

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But Naysmith isn’t taking anything for granted with away trips to Queen’s Park and Stranraer still to come as well as the visit of Elgin to Ainslie Park.

“We are under no illusions and I stressed the significance of Saturday’s game to the players,” he said. “We’ve got three cup finals now and if you lose them, there’s every chance you won’t make the play-offs. I can’t be any clearer than that. Any team in the top four could lose all their games.

“Saturday was the first time our forward play and movement didn’t cause as much trouble as we’d like. And because we’ve been winning all the time, I’ve never really had to look at the bench and think I need to change it, but we don’t have the attacking personnel just now with the likes of Blair Henderson, Alex Harris and Allan Smith all out injured.

“Everything we tried in terms of changing formation just didn’t work. Stirling deserved to win but it wasn’t because they battered us, our decision-making both attacking and defensive was off. I felt we played into their hands and we switched off right on half-time. We didn’t play with our heads.

“We’re pleased not to be playing until Thursday this week so it will give us a chance to get back on the training pitch and work on a few things. Saturday was the 11th game in four weeks so I can’t fault the players’ efforts.”

Conrad Balatoni had to head clear off his own goal line inside 60 seconds as the visitors sprung out of the traps before Sam Newman saw his header come back off the post from a Danny Handling cross in a frantic opening.

Rafa De Vita had a couple of efforts from outside the box that flew over the crossbar but City goalkeeper Calum Antell got down to turn Jack Leitch’s net-bound effort around the post.

The only goal of the game arrived right on the stroke of half-time. The lively Andy Ryan managed to work his way to the by-line and his cutback was finished off by Mackin.

Skipper Craig Thomson’s corner was met by Balatoni on the volley but the defender couldn’t keep his effort down as City chased an equaliser, but it was the visitors who looked more likely to add to their lead with Antell producing two fine stops late on.

Edinburgh City: Antell, Thomson, McIntyre, Black, Balatoni, Handling, Jardine (Dishington 71), See, Newman, De Vita (Brown 63), Campbell. Subs: Beveridge, Laird, Crane, Jarron, Goodfellow, Denham.

Stirling Albion: Currie, McGregor, Banner, Eadie, McGeachie, Roberts, Hamilton, Leitch (Wilson 82, Docherty 90), Allan (Moore 82), Ryan, Mackin (Byrne 75). Subs: Thomson, Binnie, Bikey, Heaver, Roberts.

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