Edinburgh City boss Gary Naysmith pleads with SPFL after bizarre second half at Cliftonhill

Edinburgh City boss Gary Naysmith insists the SPFL authorities must ensure there are a full quota of match officials at all professional grounds in Scotland.

Sunday, 1st August 2021, 3:56 pm
Updated Sunday, 1st August 2021, 3:58 pm
Edinburgh City manager Gary Naysmith. Picture: SNS

There was a 25-minute delay to the start of the second half at Cliftonhill after referee Stewart Luke declared himself unable to continue due to injury. Rovers won the match 2-0 with goals coming from a fourth-minute Declan Byrne penalty and Kyle Doherty strike on 39 minutes before the game's main talking point arrived during the half-time interval.

With one of the assistant referees stepping up to take the whistle as the second half was poised to get underway, and the remaining assistant running one of the lines, Albion substitute Max Wright initially grabbed the flag to offer his services on the opposite side before Naysmith intervened. Eventually it was decided the game would continue with just one linesman.

"We need to have someone else as injuries do happen," Naysmith said. "Various phone calls were made to the SPFL to find out what the rules are. The game had to be played but to be put in a position where we could man the line, Albion could have or the referee, I don't think that's right for a professional level of Scottish football.

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"I just thought the best thing to do was let the referee do it because if we had someone from our club running the line and we'd make a comeback, we would have had all sorts of things thrown at us.

"As it panned out, not having a linesman didn't alter anything in the game but I still don't think it's right that when an official is injured, ill or whatever, you don't just drop down to having two. But that's not the reason we got beat. We lost because we weren't at it in the first game of the season and that's the main concern I have."

Albion boss Brian Reid also had his say on the situation. He said: "I've been in football a long time but have never seen anything like that. It was a disadvantage to us because with no linesman on that side, it forced us back deeper and deeper. It was a real strange situation because it allowed them to come more into the game. The referee was having to make calls from the middle of the park which wasn't ideal."

The second half saw City's Danny Handling see his penalty saved with little more than 15 minutes remaining but Naysmith was honest enough to admit his players got exactly what they deserved for a lacklustre display.

"The biggest problem on Saturday was we never got going in the first half and that shouldn't happen in the first game of the season," he said. "Everything was right, preparation, training but for whatever reason we simply never got going.

"So many individuals made uncharacteristic mistakes and everything that you don't want to happen in any game, let alone the first one, happened to us in the first half. Although the second half was better, the damage was done."

Albion Rovers: Binnie, Lynas, Leslie, El-Zubaidi, Robinson, C Wilson, D Wilson, McKernon, Reilly (Roberts 68), Doherty, Byrne.

Edinburgh City: Goodfellow, Reekie, Toshney (Bronsky 61), McIntyre, Crane, Jardine (Robertson 46), Hilton (McFarlane 78), Tapping, Handling, See (Shanley 78), Kidd.

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