Civil Service boss won’t panic despite poor home form

David Churchill' scored the goal for Strollers
David Churchill' scored the goal for Strollers
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Civil Service Strollers boss Alex Cunningham isn’t concerned by his side’s home form despite suffering their fourth defeat of the season at Christie Gillies Park.

Edusport Academy were the latest side to leave the Capital with all three points on Saturday, Thomas Garnier’s close-range header ensuring it was the visitors who cemented their place in the top half of the table with a 2-1 win. Strollers dropped to ninth.

The hosts again found themselves having to do the hard work and come from behind, Raffi Krissian’s bulleted header a minute before the break giving Edusport a first-half advantage.

Substitute David Churchill’s astute finish rewarded Strollers’ desire after the break but the home side were hit by a sucker punch when Maxime Oulaitoh capitalised on an exposed home defence to cross for Garnier to notch the winner 12 minutes from time.

The former East of Scotland League club have also lost to city rivals Spartans, Stirling University, and Selkirk so far this term.

However, when asked if this was causing any alarm within the home dressing-room, Cunningham said: “I just think we need to be making better decisions but I’m not worried about it. They’re not a bad side and they will take points off teams. We’ve just go to go again. We’re disappointed as we gave away such a stupid second goal. We’ll be fine though.

“We needed to give ourselves that wee bit of stability to then go and take the game again after the equaliser but we’re that eager to keep going forward to try and win the match.

“We’ll go again but we’ll need to make some changes. I gave them that opportunity because we’d been doing well but I think some of the other boys deserve a chance. It’s not doom and gloom we just need to do a wee bit more.”

Cunningham also revealed goalkeeper and captain Stuart Burnside will have to fight his way back into the side with Kyle Rankin his preferred choice at the moment. Jack Verth takes over the captaincy.

“Kyle has come in and done really well so he will keep the gloves going forward,” Cunningham explained. “Burny was away at a wedding in Greece a couple of weeks ago and had to drop out so there’s no need to change it at the moment.”

Rankin showed his shot-stopping credentials after eight minutes when he threw himself in front of a Michael Hewitt drive from ten yards to prevent the opening goal.

However, his opposite number, Ilies Belkacem, was just as agile in keeping out a dipping Jack Downie free-kick just before the half hour.

Strollers cranked up the pressure on the visitors’ rearguard as the interval approached but went behind when Krissian met David Sinclair’s corner in the 44th minute to powerfully head beyond Rankin.

Torrential rain greeted the players as proceedings got underway again and Strollers were almost back on level terms as youngster Andy Mair’s deflected drive from outside the box had Belkacem scrambling across his line to touch the ball around the post.

Full-back Kyle Fee was then fortunate not to see red for kicking out at Hewitt having been stopped in his tracks by his opponent, referee Mark McHendry issuing a yellow card instead to the former Leith Athletic player.

Fee used this to his advantage as his cross into the Edusport box minutes later wasn’t cleared and Churchill was there to steer the ball into the bottom corner.

However, Garnier’s winner ensured it was another disappointing afternoon for Strollers.

Civil Service Strollers: Rankin, Stewart, Fee, Watson, Verth, Cunningham, Mair, Clapperton (Mitchell 59), Froude (Carse 83), Downie, Boyle (Churchill 59). Subs: Burnside, Laird, Hainey, Nisbet, Deevers.

Edusport Academy: Belkacem, Hewitt, Oulaitoh, Krissian, Steyer, Wilson, Nelson, Sinclair, Higgins, Garnier (Babel 90), Zeghdane (Chevrot 75). Subs: Meny, Breton, Jordan, Chichi, Diallo.