Edinburgh City boss Gary Jardine was left lamenting two moments of first-half sloppiness as his team’s search for a first Ladbrokes League Two win of the season continued following a 2-0 defeat at Stirling Albion.
Strikes from Darren Smith and Ross Kavanagh in the final 15 minutes of the first half settled what had been until then, a fairly even contest.
“If you stopped the stats at their first goal on 32 minutes, it’d have shown it was even-stevens or that we’d have had more shots on goal,” he said. “Our shape reverted back to how we’ve played in the seven years I’ve been here. We got our angles right but we didn’t break with enough pace, although I thought Stirling we’re starting to get a bit frustrated.
“A real howler of a mistake and we’ve gifted Stirling the first goal and their tails were up. Again though, we did okay until 44 minutes and it’s another horror goal from our perspective. They’re a good side, but didn’t have to work hard for their goals.”
The first meaningful action for either goalkeeper came Calum Antell’s way, when he got down and hold Kavanagh’s shot after a smart turn in the area from The Binos winger.
Craig Thomson was afforded City’s first chance after picking up a loose ball on the left and he drove towards goal but dragged his shot well wide of Cammy Binnie’s far post.
The former Hearts player then knocked a free-kick down for Ashley Grimes, who chested down but volleyed over.
Just as City were beginning to impose themselves, they shot themselves in the foot. Marc Laird sent a pass back towards Calum Antell, unaware that Smith was lurking. The Stirling striker gladly accepted possession and swept the ball home to give his side the lead just after the half hour.
Gavin Malin then fed midfield colleague John Dunn as City sought to respond, but his curling attempt was easily held by Binnie.
Antell had to look sharp at the other end to turn Kavanagh’s stinging drive over the bar.
The winger had more joy on the stroke of half-time as Stirling again benefited from City’s carelessness, surrendering possession cheaply again gave Kavanagh the chance to race through and slot past Antell for 2-0.
City spurned what was easily their best chance of the game early in the second half. Josh Walker fed Malin, who checked back and in turn picked out Laird’s late run, but he placed his shot wide when anything on target would have beaten Binnie.
Veteran striker Peter McDonald was inches from ending the game as a contest with a clipped free-kick that Antell got across well to tip over.
Substitute Neil McLaughlin somehow didn’t grab a debut goal after a blocked shot fell to him with the goal gaping, but a combination of a poor finish and great save from Antell denied him.
A sweeping counter from City allowed Jordan Caddow to knock down for Laird, but his volley was blocked by Ross Smith.
Kavanagh should have poked home a third on the stretch with two minutes remaining, but the ball bounced agonisingly wide.
The triple introduction of Ian Smith, Lewis Allan and Moses Olanrewaju in particular gave City a spark and some cause for optimism going forward. “Moses has done really well,” said Jardine. “He’s still got a bit of fitness to find and that’s why at the moment he isn’t starting games. He’s working hard, made an impact on Tuesday night and again today. I thought all three could do that, but didn’t envisage us being 2-0 down when they came on.”
Stirling Albion: Binnie, McGeachie, Hamilton, McNeil, Smith, Black (Robertson 32), C Morrison (McLaughlin 64), Caddis, McDonald, Smith, Kavanagh
Edinburgh City: Antell, Caddow, Walker (Allan 70), Laird, Thomson, Malin (Olanrewaju 70), Beattie, Grimes, Rodger (Smith 70), Dunn, S Morrison
Referee: K Graham