City end on a high against a team full of ‘strangers’

Mark McConnell scores for Edinburgh City against Vale of Leithan. Pic: Lisa Ferguson.
Mark McConnell scores for Edinburgh City against Vale of Leithan. Pic: Lisa Ferguson.
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Edinburgh City finished their season in the inaugural Lowland Football League with a comprehensive 7-2 win against a makeshift Vale of Leithen side who fought bravely, especially in the opening 45 minutes.

City boss Gary Jardine had urged his players to end the season on a high with a top-five finish while Vale, who lost their entire management team and the majority of their players the previous week, were under the charge of interim manager Stuart Robertson.

City brought in Dominico Gibson, Ryan Wilson and Mark Torrance after a gruelling schedule of four games in ten days while Vale had four trialists and 47-year-old Paul Taylor in their line-up.

Vale could have taken an early lead when John Ferguson was through with only goalkeeper Andrew Stobie to beat but the striker lifted his lob on to the roof of the net. However, City took the lead after 18 minutes when an Aaron James corner was volleyed into the net by Mark McConnell at the back post. City had the slight edge and when Vale keeper Graeme O’Brien directed a goal-kick straight to Gibson he ran forward and slipped the ball low into the net for 2-0.

Vale rallied and when Torrance was adjudged to have handled the ball Keith Lough scored from the resultant penalty kick. After Stobie had made a good blocking save to deny a Vale trialist play swung immediately to the other end where a James cross was deflected into his own net by Craig McManus. Ross Guthrie was then pulled down by Ryan McKenzie and Wilson slammed the spot kick high into the net, 4-1. City notched their fifth after a goalmouth scramble when Gibson forced the ball over the line.

It was a steady procession towards the Vale goal although, to be fair, the Borders side, who had never played together before, repelled most of City’s attacks. Peter Stenhouse set up Ian McFarland to score from close range before Vale, in a breakaway, netted when a trialist headed home. In the final minute Stenhouse completed the scoring when a Mark Osborne shot rebounded into his path.

Gary Jardine, the City manager, said: “In the end it was a convincing win. It can be difficult in games like that when you do not know anything about the opposition. As a result we had to change our formation after 15 minutes and make the park bigger. From then on we were in control of the game.

“We were sloppy at some stages although we did score some good goals. There was also some game time for players as we go into Wednesday’s King Cup semi-final so that augers well. We had two targets at the beginning of the year – one was to get to a cup final and the other was to finish in the top five. That’s one achieved and now we can look forward to Wednesday.”

Stuart Robertson, in temporary charge for only one game, said: “It was not a 7-2 scoreline. We should have scored first when we hit the top of the net and if that had gone in it would have made a lot of difference. We came back to 2-1 and at half-time I told the players to keep it tight. We could have equalised but then they broke up the park and got an own goal. The game changed at that moment and made a big difference. We hit the bar and it seemed like every time we went close City went up the park and scored.

“Don’t get me wrong, we were never going to win the game but it was never a 7-2! We had a team thrown together and it was the very first time they had ever met me. I did not know one person in the dressing-room and it was like walking into a room full of strangers. Having said that they all gave me 100 per cent and I have to thank them all.”

Edinburgh City: Stobie, McConnell (Stenhouse 64), Donaldson, Harrison, Caddow, Torrance, McFarland, Guthrie (Osborne 69), Wilson (Vanson 72), Gibson, James. Subs: Paterson, Mauro.

Vale of Leithen: O’Brien, Taylor, McManus, Trialist, McKenzie, Aitchison, Lough, Trialist, Trialist, Ferguson, Trialist. Sub: Beveridge.

Referee: Jordan Curran.