Edinburgh City boss James McDonaugh admitted his team were never at the races as they went down 3-0 at Montrose.
A first-half brace from Lewis Milne and a stoppage-time free-kick from Martin Rennie gave Montrose the points as they kept pace at the top of the Ladbrokes League Two table with Peterhead.
Despite a slight improvement after going two goals down, City never truly looked like rescuing anything from the game. “In hindsight the game was over after 18 minutes,” said McDonaugh. “Montrose 100 per cent deserved to win the game. They were the better team in all areas of the pitch and the score reflected the performance of the two teams.
“I thought their penalty [for the second goal] was quite soft to be honest, but in the long run I don’t think it really affected the outcome of the game. The second goal is always a crucial one, but you’ve seen them given. It’s one of those when the attacker looks for it and the defender maybe goes in in a way he shouldn’t.
“I don’t think we really improved all that much after that. At that point we probably couldn’t have been any worse. A lot times this season we’ve maybe not got what we’ve deserved or breaks have gone against us, but today we fell quite short of where we’ve been recently.”
The hosts created the first early chance when Cammy Ballantyne went down the right and picked out Chris Templeman, whose near-post volley flashed wide via a deflection.
City then found themselves 1-0 down before they’d really got going. Rennie won possession deep in their half and slid in Milne, who drilled low through Calum Antell’s legs before five minutes were up.
It was almost two soon after when Milne’s near-post corner was flicked on and Templeman stretched out a long leg at the back post, but the veteran striker just couldn’t get enough on the ball to turn it home.
The second did duly arrive via the penalty spot. Ballantyne went down under Pat Scullion’s challenge and although the big defender appeared to have pulled out and Ballantyne’s fall was theatrical, referee Craig Napier pointed to the spot.
Milne stepped up and calmly sent Antell the wrong way for his and The Gable Endies’ second of the afternoon.
It took City half an hour to register an attempt on goal and it was a wildly wayward effort from Cameron Blues at that. Craig Thomson followed that with a curling left foot strike and while a bit closer, the result was the same.
An excellent take and turn from debutant Lewis McLear – signed after a successful trialist appearance last Tuesday against Stirling – opened things up for him to have a go, but again his shot was too high to trouble Allan Fleming.
Templeman went close to a third shortly after half-time from Liam Callaghan’s corner, but Jesus Garcia Tena’s presence meant he couldn’t get a clean contact on his header.
A clever clipped ball from City’s Marc Laird picked out Thomson’s run, but his glancing header drifted narrowly wide of the far post.
A fairly nondescript second half was rounded off by Rennie clipping in a free-kick with the last touch of the game.
Meanwhile, Rangers and Scotland under-19 midfielder Matthew Shiels has signed on a development loan until the end of the season and will join up with the City this week.
With fit bodies thin on the ground in recent weeks, the additions will give McDonaugh some much needed extra options. “Lewis obviously played today and hopefully Matthew will be in this week, so hopefully a couple of new singings will help us.”
Montrose: Fleming, Ballantyne, Steeves, Allan, Dillon, Bolochoweckyj, Milne (Watson 76), Callaghan (Masson 62), Rennie, Templeman (Fraser 59), Redman.
Edinburgh City: Antell, Thomson, Laird, Grimes, Rodger, McLear, Blues, Taylor (Shepherd 57), Garcia Tena, El Alagui (Dunn 57), Scullion.
Referee: Craig Napier.