James McDonaugh’s first game as Edinburgh City manager ended in defeat as SPFL League 2 rivals Stenhousemuir progressed to the William Hill Scottish Cup third round after a 1-0 win.
Jamie Longworth’s early second-half header was enough to send Brown Ferguson’s men through, following up their 3-0 league win over City at Ochilview prior to the international break.
Lewis Allan returned to the starting line-up as City’s central striker, with new player/assistant manager Craig Beattie supporting the on-loan Hibs frontman in attack.
The few early attempts at goal came from the hosts. An ambitious Josh Walker chip sailed wide of Chris Smith’s right-hand post and the Stenny goalkeeper was able to gather a deflected Beattie shot fairly easily.
A penetrating ball over the top from Jesus Garcia Tena put Allan in, and the forward was unlucky to be tackled as he tried to round the on-rushing Smith at the angle of the box.
All Calum Antell had to deal with at the other end was a Nicki Paterson shot that was straight at him. Generously, it was a first half in which both teams cancelled each other out.
Any goals were likely to come from a set piece and that proved to be the case five minutes after the break. Paterson whipped in an in-swinging free-kick and Longworth was there to help it on its way into the far corner.
City almost responded immediately with one of their own. Craig Thomson’s corner was met by Gareth Rodger with Smith having left his line to try and claim the ball, but the defender’s flicked header was the wrong side of the far post from a home perspective.
Antell needed a strong hand to deny Harry Paton at the other end, palming his well-struck shot over for a corner.
The keeper was almost caught out by Mark McGuigan after attempting to control a long ball. The visiting bench were screaming for a penalty after the striker went down as Antell just managed to clear, but ref Mike Roncone wasn’t for giving it.
City were forced to open up being a goal down, and Beattie had the ball in the net just after the hour mark, but had already been flagged offside.
A brilliant double save from Antell kept City in the tie. Colin McMenamin’s glancing header was goal-bound all the way until the Welshman threw himself to his left to save. McGuigan was first to the the rebound and put the laces through it, only for Antell to stand up well and block at the near post.
McGuigan was again denied soon after, this time from further out, although Antell kept out another near post effort.
Longworth should have scored a second and with it, ensured a third-round berth for his side with ten to go. A slack pass from Walker allowed the goalscorer to bear down on goal, but he dragged his shot wide with only Antell to beat.
McGuigan’s personal duel with Antell continued, the City keeper again coming out on top when he acrobatically diverted another strike away from the top corner.
A late City charge didn’t really look like happening, and any hopes of a late leveller evaporated when Thomson was shown a second yellow in stopppage time for throwing the ball away deep in his own half.
“We’re disappointed to lose the game – we’re disappointed to lose any game, but I don’t think we did enough to win the game to be honest,” manager McDonaugh said afterwards.
“There were signs of improvement, I thought the players worked really hard. I asked them for that because if you work hard, it gives us a start.
“The second half I thought we lacked a bit of quality to get the ball down and play a wee bit, but to lose 1-0 with a set piece goal, I think there’s plenty of good things to work on as well.”
Edinburgh City: Antell, Walker, Laird, Thomson, Beattie (Belmokhtar 80), Hall, Rodger, Blake (I Smith 76), Tena, Morrison, Allan (Grimes 66).
Stenhousemuir: C Smith, Meechan, M Dunlop, R Dunlop, Paterson, Ferry, McGuigan, Paton, Mcmenamin, Longworth (Ferns 84), Donaldson.