Gary Jardine pragmatic as ‘tired’ Edinburgh City thumped by Morton

Edinburgh City boss Gary Jardine reckons the midweek defeat by Motherwell took its toll on his players at Cappielow. Pic: SNS
Edinburgh City boss Gary Jardine reckons the midweek defeat by Motherwell took its toll on his players at Cappielow. Pic: SNS
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Gary Jardine was pragmatic in his reaction to Edinburgh City’s heavy 5-0 Betfred Cup Group F defeat by Greenock Morton.

Bob McHugh’s early opener set the tone, followed by a second-half Jai Quitongo strike, a double from Robert Thomson and McHugh’s second to cap a dominant display from Jim Duffy’s team.

Jardine was without at least five first-team regulars due to injury. Youngster Reece Glackin made his full debut, while fellow under-20s squad players Scott McBeath, Matthew Downie and Michael Barfoot joined him from the bench.

An early injury to Craig Beattie didn’t help as City struggled to produce the intensity required to contend with Morton. “We put it to bed, but there are plenty lessons from it,” said Jardine. “It was a true reflection on the game where a real tired, part-time team probably should be getting beat 5-0 in that situation.

“The disappointing thing for us is that the first three goals are from set-pieces. Morton created good opportunities from open play but didn’t score from them. Set pieces are something we’ve spoken about a lot and haven’t been too bad on them so far.

“We’ve had to scrape a team together and six or seven of our under-20s have played in this campaign, which is good going forward in terms of preparation. When you look back we drew with Berwick which is okay, let ourselves down against Queen’s Park and did well against Motherwell, but you saw how much Tuesday took out of us today.

“While the League Cup at this stage of the season is exciting, it just doesn’t suit the part-time teams at all. We’re delighted now we’ve got a week without a game to prepare for Montrose.”

Calum Antell was forced into the first of many good stops within the first ten minutes, throwing himself to his right to palm Michael Tidser’s drive away.

The hosts took full advantage of Beattie’s early withdrawal from a following corner when McHugh controlled Jack Iredale’s knockdown and finished past Antell from close range.

Morton thought they’d doubled their lead on the half-hour mark when Antell couldn’t keep out Iredale’s header from Ross Forbes’ free-kick, but the offside flag cut the celebrations short.

It was almost 2-0 six minutes before the break when a clever corner found Tidser, whose low effort was turned towards goal by McHugh, only to be denied by a fine reaction save from Antell.

The inevitable second Morton goal arrived soon after the restart, as Quitongo spun in the box and fired low past Antell for his first goal since October 2016, producing an impressive acrobatic celebration into the bargain.

City had struggled with crosses into the box all afternoon, so it was no surprise when Thomson rose to head in Mark Russell’s corner from the right to make it 3-0 with just more than 15 minutes to play.

Thomson then netted the goal of the game for his second and Morton’s fourth, sending a terrific left-footed drive past Antell from 25 yards.

There was just enough time for McHugh to bookend the tie with his second, curling a fine shot over Antell into the top corner.

Duffy was pleased with his team’s showing, but kept it in the context his opposite number had laid out.

“Edinburgh City I think were a bit tired,” he admitted. “They played last Saturday then they played Motherwell and understandably they maybe didn’t have the same energy levels so we take things in context, but it was a good performance from us, with good individual displays so we’re delighted with the win.”

Morton: Gaston, Murdoch, Doyle, Forbes (Langan 80), Quitongo (Tiffoney 74), Thomson, McHugh, Tidser, Russell (Strapp 85), McManus, Iredale.

Edinburgh City: Antell, Caddow, Harrison, Walker, Laird, Beattie (McBeath 14), Grimes (Barfoot 71), Olanrewaju, Glackin, Smith (Downie 64), Verlaque.

Referee: Mike Roncone.

Attendance: 1065.