If playing in Edinburgh City’s winless start to life in League Two has been frustrating for the majority of Gary Jardine’s squad, a watching brief has made the season so far all the more difficult for goalkeeper Andrew Stobie.
Having remained patient whilst summer signing Calum Antell donned the gloves since his debut against St Mirren back in July, Stobie got his first start of the season in last Saturday’s 1-1 draw away to Annan.
The former East Fife man is hopeful that he did enough to keep his place as Dick Campbell’s Arbroath visit Meadowbank tomorrow, and that City’s recent displays finally pay off with a first win of the season.
“It was definitely good to get back in the team again,” he admitted. “I’ve not had too much action in recent months after falling ill at the end of last season so it was good to get a competitive game again. Nobody likes sitting on the bench but the team comes first, I said the same thing back in May. The most important thing was getting in to the league and now we’re there, it’s important to do well and take the club forward.
“It is hard watching, but I have to support everybody playing and especially the goalkeeper Calum. Gary said before the game on Saturday that I’d been patient and deserved a chance, so it was rewarded.”
Antell’s unfortunate misjudgment during the previous week’s defeat by Montrose may have contributed to Stobie getting his chance, but foremost in his mind was sympathy for his team-mate.
“It’s the goalie’s union!” he laughed. “It was a brilliant header from the boy and a difficult one for Calum to save and of course you feel for him. Calum knows himself. He held his hands up straight away in the changing rooms but there’s no point dwelling on it. Every goalie makes mistakes, from the highest level to the lowest and Calum’s responded well in making a decent save after the mistake. These things happen and I’m sure he’ll get more game time again soon.
“It did give me a chance. Gary maybe didn’t want it playing on Calum’s mind and thought it was time for me to get a shot. It’s never nice seeing another goalkeeper make any kind of mistake so I wasn’t sitting there with a smile on my face, put it that way. The most important thing was to try and get a result which unfortunately we didn’t do. I’m sure Calum will support me through mistakes that I’ll have this season and likewise I’ll do the same for him.”
City have found to their cost that mistakes anywhere on the park have been ruthlessly punished this season. While Stobie acknowledged that the difference between wins, draws and defeats has been marginal, the magnitude of the step up from the Lowland League has been bigger than some expected.
“When me made mistakes lasts season you’d maybe lose one goal from a few,” he reflected. “So far this season, every mistake is getting punished. It is a big step up and I think maybe a few players underestimated how big the step up is. Just because you’ve won the Lowland League doesn’t mean you’ll automatically have a good season in League Two and be up near the top. We need to iron out those fine details and that can make all the difference. One lapse in concentration on Saturday and Annan scored. We had something like ten shots on target and only took one goal so we need to turn that in to more goals. We have good strikers though, so there’s no doubt we will.
“Fingers crossed we can cut out the mistakes and take our chances. It sounds easy doesn’t it? That’s football – don’t make any mistakes, take your chances and you’ll win the game!”
That needs to start tomorrow against the Red Lichties. Stobie, who is familiar with several of the personnel at Gayfield, knows it’s easier said than done.
“We played them in pre-season last year and they beat us fairly comfortably 2-0,” he said. “I know a few of their players as well. Mark Whatley the captain there is ex-Spartans and I played with Bobby Linn at East Fife so I know him well. It’s going to be really tough, but everyone’s beating everyone on this league so there’s no reason why can’t be a team that gets there points this weekend.”