Edinburgh City manager Gary Jardine admitted he would have been happy with a 1-0 win at Preston – but was delighted to see his team leave with an 8-2 victory.
The Lowland League champions ran riot at the Pennypit with striker Ross Allum returning from a two-game suspension by grabbing a hat-trick.
The result came as a boost to Jardine, having seen his side dumped out of the William Hill Scottish Cup by Buckie Thistle the previous weekend.
“If you’d asked me beforehand, I would have been happy with a 1-0 win,” said Jardine.
“We had to stop the rot. The boys knew they let the club down last week with their performance against Buckie Thistle. We had to get back the tempo of our play, show the hunger we have displayed in the past which has got us to where we are now.”
The last time City lost three consecutive matches was in December 2013, and Preston Athletic – who defeated title challengers East Kilbride a fortnight ago – were expected to be tough opposition. The Panners, all but three members of their squad under the age of 21, fully matched the champions for the first half hour, before succumbing to City’s relentless firepower and ability to capitalise on the tiniest error.
The home side were more enterprising in the opening spell with McCue, Nicholson and Martin all being denied by effective defending. However, it was City who opened the scoring in 19 minutes with Allum slamming home a free-kick from the penalty arc.
Preston equalised in 28 minutes in a counter-attack which left the City defence stretched, and when Stobie slipped on the soft ground Josh McGonigal made no mistake rolling the ball into the empty net.
City responded with three goals in five minutes. Allum restored the lead by stabbing home a Dunn cross in 32 minutes, a long McKee free-kick from half-way was volleyed into the net by Jordan Caddow three minutes later, and when McSherry became another victim of the treacherous surface Allum was unchallenged as he ran in to record his hat-trick.
Preston’s heads did not go down. Gilchrist’s long shot was well held by Stobie, while in 49 minutes Nicholson gave the defence a few moments of trouble in the box before the ball was swept to safety. However, the next goal went for the visitors in 55 minutes. Gair’s corner was headed down by Caddow and Frazer Paterson reacted instantly to clip the ball in from six yards.
In 63 minutes Sean Muhsin drove home a cross from City captain Dougie Gair, and Dean Carse made it seven with 30 minutes remaining. James Martin reduced the deficit from a McGonigal cross, but Gordon Donaldson got the final goal of the match, deflecting a long-range Muhsin effort to send Flockhart the wrong way.
Gair said: “We were bitterly disappointed after the Scottish Cup game. We had a team meeting on Thursday and we agreed that our standards had dropped recently, but we came flying out of the traps, and no-one could say we didn’t deserve our victory.”
Preston Athletic: Flockhart, Moffat, Cochrane, Manson, McSherry, Todd, McCue, Gilchrist, Nicholson, Martin, McGonigal. Subs: Triallist, Thomson, Cook, Triallist, Dowie.
Edinburgh City: Stobie, Caddow, Donaldson, Guthrie, Paterson, McKee, McFarland, Gair, Allum, Dunn, MacDonald. Subs: Muhsin, Carse, See, Wishart, Macnamara, Amos.