Gary Jardine admitted his Edinburgh City’s players were always going to be in for a tough shift against a St Mirren side chasing a minimum of four goals.
Lawrence Shankland, Tom Walsh and Jack Baird had Alex Rae’s men well on the way to three points by half-time, but they failed to score the goals required to progress from Group G.
Despite another defeat, Jardine again hailed a valuable learning experience for his players. “Any time you play four game in ten days is difficult,” he said. “We’ve been able to control games in the Lowland League for three years but that’s not going to be the case now. We maybe got caught between trying to play our game and being hard to beat, but next month when we play in League Two we’ll find out exactly where we are.”
Along with Craig Beattie, keeper Calum Antell made his debut between the sticks for City and was forced into a fine stop after just five minutes. Kyle Hutton’s cross found Shankland at the near post, and the former Wales U19 international turned his instinctive effort behind.
The former Aberdeen striker wasn’t to be denied five minutes later. Lewis Morgan drove to the by-line before hanging a wonderful cross to the back post that removed Antell from the equation. That left Shankland with the easiest of tasks to nod home for 1-0.
It would have been 2-0 on the 20-minute mark but for Gordon Donaldson’s intervention on the line, positioning himself perfectly to thump Walsh’s goal-bound shot over the bar.
City were facing a barrage from their Championship hosts, and a second duly came just before the half hour. Shankland fed Walsh on the angle of the box, and the on-loan Rangers man arrowed a low shot past Antell and in at the near post.
Two minutes later it was 3-0 when Baird tapped in the rebound after Antell had parried Shankland’s powerful drive. The officials had enraged the City bench, however, by allowing play to continue for a significant period in the build-up while Mark McConnell was lying down in his own six-yard box with a head knock.
The hosts had their own reasons to be upset with the officials when Donaldson appeared to bundle over Shankland in the box, but claims for a penalty were ignored.
Former Hearts defender and Buddies skipper Andy Webster saw his header from a Stevie Mallan corner kicked off the line on the stroke of half-time
There was little respite for the League Two side after the break, Walsh again going for the near post but this time Antell diverted the shot behind.
The Capital side fashioned their clearest opportunity on the hour when a clearance from Jordan Caddow’s cross fell for Ross Allum. The striker connected well but couldn’t keep his volley on target.
Donaldson was again on hand to clear off the line with 15 left after Ryan Hardie had slid the ball past Antell. The keeper then denied John Sutton with a great reaction save.
Jardine also voiced his disappointment at St Mirren’s third goal. “We were on the back foot from the start but the third goal was disappointing,” he said. “The referee’s said he didn’t think it was a head knock, but on the side we can clearly see him holding his head. It’s disappointing because at that point I was looking to change the shape and get us solid until half-time.”
St Mirren: Gallacher, Naismith, Stewart, Webster, Baird, Walsh (Gallagher 75), Mallan, Morgan, Clarkson (Hardie 65), Shankland (Sutton 73).
Edinburgh City: Antell, Caddow, Gibson, Mbu, Martynuik, Donaldson, Cummings (MacDonald 83), Muhsin, Allum (Guthrie 63), Beattie (Dunn 66), McConnell.