Despite Edinburgh City’s 3-1 victory over Gala Fairydean Rovers on Saturday, a win that stretched the reigning champions’ lead at the top of the table to 18 points, manager Gary Jardine has warned his players they must avoid any complacency creeping into play.
A Ross Allum brace and Dougie Gair penalty sealed maximum points in the Borders, but Jardine is refusing to get carried away.
“We’re very short of bodies just now, but we are lucky that we have been able to maintain some continuity with the players we have,” he said. “The players are on fire just now, and are really enjoying their football. We almost came badly unstuck at Gala last season, so the team were right up for it today.”
The match was the only Lowland one to beat the weather, the Netherdale men working hard all morning to ensure the 3G surface was free of snow and ice. Gala’s defence performed well in the face of an early City onslaught, goalkeeper Mark Wilson slapping away Allum’s attempt in ten minutes, and Scott Main stopping a net-bound Allum lob on the goal line. Eventually the home team started to impose themselves on the game, with good efforts from Stuart Noble and Jamie Gibson.
City gained the initiative in the 35th minute as John Dunn released Allum who beat the offside trap before neatly slotting the ball under the advancing keeper. The visitors did not let up as the interval approached, but Allum, Mark McConnell, Sean Muhsin and Jordan Caddow were all denied by some reslient defending.
Although City’s midfield were controlling the game, it was the combination of Dunn and Allum who were causing the home team the most concern. And, it was Allum who put City two goals ahead just four minutes after the restart.
The prolific striker received the ball on the right before cutting inside and sending an angled shot low into the net.
Five minutes later, at the other end, Billy Miller might have fared better than shoot wide from a free-kick on the edge of the City box.
The visitors’ attempts to stretch their lead were foiled by Wilson in goal and in 68 minutes, Rovers pulled a goal back in a sparkling counter-attack down the left wing.
Ben Herdman managed to flick the ball through to Taylor Hope who darted into the box, turned City No.1 Andrew Stobie and rolled the ball into the back of the net.
But City were determined not to lose their lead, and in 71 minutes were awarded a penalty when Herdman clipped Allum’s heels just inside the box and captain Gair blasted an unsaveable shot to Wilson’s left to restore their two-goal advantage. Allum was denied his hat-trick ten minutes from time when he netted, but his celebrations were cut short by an offside flag. In the closing minutes Wilson saved superbly from a Ian McFarland volley and McConnell hit the crossbar.
City take a break from league duty on Saturday with a Football Nation East Qualifying Cup tie with East Kilbride. Jardine dismissed any notion that the weekend’s fixture was of lesser importance, though. “City are still in three cups and we are looking to progress in all of them,” he said. “We will not take it easy just because it is not a Lowland League game.”
Gala FR: Wilson, Stephen, Hope, Herdman, Main, Miller, Malcolm, Bonnar, Noble, Gibson, Clapperton. Subs: Chalmers, Aitchison, Burdett, Jardine.
Edinburgh City: Stobie, Mbu, Caddow, G.Donaldson, Paterson, Muhsin, McFarland, Gair, Allum, Dunn, McConnell. Subs: Carse, Harrison, MacNamara.