Edinburgh City may have suffered another narrow defeat, but the 2-1 home loss to Stirling Albion saw the most encouraging performance of manager James McDonaugh’s tenure.
A brilliant debut goal from on-loan Falkirk striker Scott Shepherd gave City the lead, only for Ross Kavanagh to level before half-time. On-loan Hearts winger Calumn Morrison got the winner soon after half-time.
“People have been saying we just need that goal ... we got a goal and we still got beat,” said McDonaugh with a wry smile. “There are positives to take, but Stirling kicked on a bit at a crucial time and got control.
“The first half was good. We played some good football, scored a fantastic goal from Scott Shepherd, who probably should have added to that lead. It’s then poor defending from us, especially for the second goal.”
Shepherd and trialist, ex-Hibs striker Farid El Alagui, gave City a new dimension up front, which could bode well for the future.
“Scotty adds a bit to us that we didn’t have before and Farid’s obviously experienced so that’s maybe exciting for us going forward. Farid can play two games as a trialist, then we’ll see where we can go with that.”
Shepherd almost made the perfect start when he latched on El Alagui’s flick, but Cammy Binnie was able to hold his volley.
The hosts had Craig Thomson to thank for keeping the score level when he was well placed to head Darren Smith’s hooked close-range effort off the line following a corner from the right.
City had gone six games without scoring since September’s 3-2 win at Clyde, but they broke their duck in fine style after quarter of an hour. Again, El Alagui teed up Shepherd, who sent a brilliant left-foot volley into the top corner.
The same combination somehow failed to double the lead moments later. Shepherd partially rounded Binnie before being forced to check and find El Alagui, who lifted it over the keeper and collected but saw his goal-bound effort cleared off the line by Lee Hamilton.
Just as Stirling seemed to be getting frustrated with their own attempts to get back in the game, they equalised. Morrison’s deflected cross fell kindly for Kavanagh, who volleyed in off the bar.
City began the second half controlling possession, but found themselves 2-1 down early on. In a role reversal from the equaliser, Kavanagh’s low centre picked out Morrison, and the No.7 had a simple finish.
It should have been 2-2 on the hour when Thomson’s delivery found Chris McKee unmarked six yards out but with a free header, he couldn’t direct it far enough away from Binnie, who was able to save.
An Achilles injury to Andrew Blake after City had made all three subs meant they went in search of an equaliser with ten men for the final few minutes. They would have got it too but for a smart save from Binnie to parry Shaun Harrison’s powerful effort.
Hamilton then made his second vital contribution of the game in stoppage time, blocking a point-blank volley from Gavin Malin that looked on target and destined for the net.
Binos boss Dave MacKay hailed Hearts kid Morrison’s ability to make things happen for his side. “He’s a big player for us,” he said. “Last week was probably the poorest he’s been, but that’s the first game you could say he was off form.
“For a young boy of 18 to have that level of consistency is brilliant. We’ve got him until January and hopefully we can extend that.”
Edinburgh City: Antell, McKee, Harrison, Walker (Belmokhtar 82), Laird (Malin 62), Thomson, Rodger (Hall 74), Trialist, Shepherd, Blake, S Morrison.
Stirling Albion: Binnie, McGeachie, Hamilton, McNeil, Noble, Black, C Morrison, Caddis, Kavanagh, Smith (McLaughlin 85), Dickson.
Referee: Craig Napier