Edinburgh City debutant looking to get hammering out of system

Keiran Stewart joined Edinburgh City from Berwick Rangers this summer
Keiran Stewart joined Edinburgh City from Berwick Rangers this summer
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Keiran Stewart’s first competitive start as an Edinburgh City player was something of a baptism of fire away to Motherwell at Fir Park.

City found themselves trailing by five goals at the interval to their top-flight opponents in a game that went pretty much as expected.

An improvement after the break offered some encouragement, as did Stewart’s performance on the right of midfield, which earned him the Supporters’ Club man of the match award.

Despite Tuesday’s thumping, it has been a positive pre-season for the big midfielder since joining from League Two rivals Berwick Rangers in the summer.

“Tuesday was a tough shift, especially in the first half,” he reflected. “As a team we didn’t defend well enough, although the second half was much better in terms of keeping them at bay.

“We made silly mistakes and played into their hands a bit, but they’re a good team. Pre-season’s been brilliant so far and they’re a Premiership side so it’s not really going to dent the confidence too much.”

“It’s been good since signing. The gaffer, staff and all the boys are brilliant so it’s been a good start. Hopefully it stays that way for the rest of the season.”

City weren’t alien to Stewart, who faced them often enough in the black and gold of Berwick. “I suppose playing against City influenced my decision,” he said. “The gaffer wants to get the ball down and play good football which was appealing to me and I thought ‘why not?’

“They could be a bit stuffy to play against and were a bit of a bogey team for us to be honest. Last year we’d play well but not get the points and it was like that for the last couple of years I’ve been playing against them.”

The chance to reunite with close friend and former St Johnstone team-mate Gareth Rodger also helped make up Stewart’s mind. “I was on holiday at the time but I dropped him a message,” he explained. “I asked his opinion and the move appealed based on what he said. Having known him for so long, it’s good having a familiar face.

“I stay in Perth so it’s not that local but it’s only about 45 minutes to home games or Oriam so it’s nothing compared to what I’m used to considering where I’ve been!

“Having a facility like that helps. I’d never actually been there beforehand but it’s great and pretty much perfect for what we need.”

Stewart is just one of a number of new faces manager James McDonaugh has brought in, and the business done by City has lead some to tip them for a much stronger campaign this time around. “Bringing in guys like Danny [Handling] and Conrad [Balatoni] – they’re really good players,” said Stewart.

“We’ve got a lot of experience of higher divisions maybe compared to some other boys in League Two. There’s guys with experience of League One as well. There’s a good mix within the squad I think and we’ve got a pretty good team.”

The chance to prove that against Queen of the South in tomorrow’s Betfred Cup Group G fixture at Ainslie Park is at least a less daunting prospect than Motherwell away. “They’ve obviously got some good players and [Stephen] Dobbie’s in a bit of form just now so we’ll need to try and keep him quiet,” assessed Stewart. “But it’s at home, we’ve seen a few upsets so far so I don’t see why we can’t as well.

“You just have to look at Spartans the other night [2-2 against St Mirren], so hopefully we can do something similar.”