Gary Jardine felt his Edinburgh City players gave Elgin too much respect during their 3-1 defeat at Borough Briggs.
Shane Sutherland put City to the sword with a hat-trick, two coming in the first 45 minutes. Craig Beattie briefly reduced the deficit to 2-1 before Sutherland claimed his treble from the spot.
It was an all too familiar feeling for Jardine following August’s 3-0 defeat at the same venue.
“It’s deja vu with the damage done in the first half,” he said. “We weren’t at it. Elgin were on the front foot and pinned us back, but I think we were really sloppy and naive.
“It wasn’t anything spectacular we were outdone by, just a good, solid performance by Elgin and that’s what makes it more disappointing. If I was going to pay, I’d watch Elgin, but we gave them too much respect. We never created many chances.
“We changed it at half-time and got a foothold in the game with more players in the forward areas. After a period of time, I felt we were on the front foot and got a goal back, but then we were done with what I felt was a poor decision.”
The loss of Chris McKee to injury during the warm-up and Dean Cummings after just half an hour didn’t help City.
“Losing them was a big blow because they’ve done great of late,” said their manager. “They were a big part of our revival after the horrendous start, but we were off the pace on Saturday.”
The hosts spent the majority of the opening period in City’s half, but a Chris McLeish shot that bounced harmlessly into Andrew Stobie’s arms was all they managed to muster in terms of direct efforts on goal.
They didn’t have to wait too long for the opener after that however. McLeish turned provider, sliding the ball in for Sutherland, who calmly stroked it past Stobie for a deserved lead.
The advantage was doubled on the stroke of half-time, Dodds beating the offside trap down the left before squaring to Sutherland, who tapped home his and his team’s second from close range.
Joe Mbu flicked goalwards from a Josh Walker corner, but it bounced well wide, with Elgin goalkeeper Cammy Mackay fairly untroubled for the first 45.
With Sutherland on a hat-trick, he was taking every opportunity to shoot that he could, and was unlucky to see a left-foot drive arc away from Stobie’s far post.
City gave themselves a lifeline with 20 minutes to go. Walker lofted a great angled ball in behind for Beattie, who took a touch before stroking past Mackay with the outside of his right foot.
The flicker of hope was extinguished almost immediately, however, when referee Ryan Milne awarded a penalty, eventually, for a foul by Gordon Donaldson. Sutherland stepped up and sent Stobie the wrong way to claim his hat-trick. “If you give the decision you have to be 100 per cent sure,” said Jardine of the award. “If he has to have a discussion with the linesman, that tells me they weren’t 100 per cent sure, so you can’t give it.”
The 90 minutes played by recent arrival Walker – whose combination with Beattie for the goal was an example of his quality – was a boost for City.
“It was important – we didn’t think he would make the 90 but he held out well,” Jardine explained. “Obviously, he tired, but I think he showed glimpses of what he’s going to bring to Edinburgh City.”
Elgin City: Mackay, Cooper, McPhee, McHardy, Brownlie, Reilly, Dodd (Stewart 83). Cameron, McLeish (Gunn 81), Sutherland, Moore (Reid 88).
Edinburgh City: Stobie, Dunsmore, Mbu, Harrison, Walker, Donaldson, McFarland, (Caddow 65) Gair, Cummings (Beattie 28), Dunn, Guthrie (See 78).
Referee: Ryan Milne