The Beast from the East eventually put paid to Edinburgh City’s game at Stirling Albion last night at Forthbank, with referee Craig Napier calling the game five minutes after the scheduled kick-off time due to snowfall
With games called off across the country over the course of the afternoon due to the weather front coming over from Siberia, conditions during the day in Stirling had not caused concern. The pitch was deemed playable, but the continuing snow resulted in the pitch lines being cleared right up until the decision was taken to call off proceedings.
City’s squad has been ravaged by injuries in recent week and the postponement means the casualty count will not increase, although such has been their luck, manager James McDonaugh wasn’t ruling out any freak accidents until his players were safely home.
“The way things have been going lately, we’ll probably have someone injured going home in their car by pressing the accelerator too hard,” he laughed. “Joking aside, it’s a silver lining. We’ve got a massive game against Cowdenbeath on Saturday so one bonus is that there’s nobody sent off tonight. With their game being off, we’re still 12 points ahead.”
While keen to get the game on, he did concede the decision was probably the correct one. “You want to play of course, but I think it is the right decision,” McDonaugh said. “You’ve got to be sensible and that’s not me saying that because I didn’t want to play. We were ready, raring to go and it’s the first time this season I’ve been able to name an unchanged team, so I was looking forward to that. Especially after such a great result on Saturday [a 4-0 win over Elgin], you want to play again.
“I don’t think it was a pitch people were going to get injured on. The playing surface was really good, it was just the lines. Even warming up, you could tell the pitch wasn’t gong to be a problem, but even in the 45 minutes we warmed up, the guy had cleared the lines with a leaf-blower at least three times.
“I was on the pro-licence course with Dave [Mackay, Stirling manager] on Sunday and Monday and I was joking that the game was going to be off on Tuesday and he said, ‘nah, no chance’. It’s not been a surprise as they’ve been forecasting this for a few days, but that doesn’t mean you can put things off in advance. I think the ref’s done everything right – you can’t put it off early due to what ifs.”
McDonaugh’s opposite number Mackay wasn’t quite as accepting and felt the officials could have held off a little longer. “In my mind, it’s not the right decision,” he said. “He could have given it another ten or 15 minutes. Fans have turned up and paid their money, so at least give it a chance.
“The pitch was absolutely playable. The worry was that he couldn’t see the lines, but you could see them from the side of the pitch absolutely fine. I think the ref and linesmen just wanted an early night. The players wanted to play, although maybe Edinburgh are slightly different because they’ve got a massive game on Saturday, but their players said it was absolutely fine too.
“If it’s called off earlier when it started snowing then fair enough, but once it’s eased off and the lines are cleared the rest of the pitch is fine.”
City now turn their attention to Saturday’s clash with bottom-placed Cowdenbeath at Ainslie Park. McDonaugh’s men, in ninth place, are nine points clear of the Blue Brazil.