Edinburgh City boss Gary Jardine wasn’t surprised to see Gala Fairydean Rovers push his side all the way as the Capital outfit increased their lead at the top of the Lowland League to seven points witrh a 1-0 win.
Gala’s stubborn resistance was eventually broken by a low drive from John Dunn with ten minutes left to play at Meadowbank, moments after City felt they had been denied a strong penalty claim after Gordon Donaldson appeared to be clipped inside the area.
Jardine believes opposing teams do not fear playing against his side and, after a similar outcome against Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale in the SFA South East Cup last weekend when Mark Osborne netted a second-half winner, patience appears to be paying off in their quest for glory.
“We are used to it now, there have been a couple of games so far this season where teams have been really fired up against us,” said a relieved Jardine at the end of another hard-fought victory.
“You don’t get any easy games in this league. The half-time score reflected the nature of the game. We had a good chance through Mark Osborne but we weren’t at our best and we let the players know that at half-time.
“In the last half hour of the second half we threw everything at it, with the three strikers up front but even then we were still vulnerable to counter-attack and at times we lost our attacking shape a bit. Gala had a better shape about them, but in the end John has managed to connect with a great strike and win it for us.”
With nearest challengers Spartans being held to a draw at East Kilbride, Jardine was pleased that his side took full advantage to extend their lead at the top, but is refusing to get carried away despite City still having a game in hand.
“If someone had offered me this amount of points at the start of the season I’d have been delighted. We have one more league game to play (Threave Rovers on Saturday) before the turn of the year, due to the League Cup and East of Scotland Qualifying Cup. But there is still a long way to go and nobody is getting carried away.”
The first genuine chance of a tight first half fell to the visitors on 22 minutes when Billy Miller’s fierce drive from distance was touched over by Andrew Stobie, whilst, at the other end Shaun Harrison’s curling free-kick struck the crossbar. Osborne was denied when he raced onto Mark Torrance’s through ball but brave goalkeeping from Steven King denied the youngster.
Ross Allum almost opened the scoring for City on his return from suspension after 53 minutes but a heavy first touch allowed King time to pull off the save from inside the area.
Donaldson came close to breaking the deadlock on 70 minutes but his penalty-box effort struck the outside of the post, and the City left-back was again at the centre of attention eight minutes later when he appeared to be impeded in the box by Gala’s Andrew Common but the referee waved away City’s appeals.
But, with the game reaching its climax and Gala still a threat on the break, Dunn made the decisive breakthrough when he buried a low shot into the bottom corner of the net after a neat lay off from Allum.
The visitors were reduced to ten men for the final few minutes of the match after David Bonner was ordered off for a high challenge on Donaldson.
Edinburgh City: Stobie, Harrison, Donaldson, McKee, Torrance, Mbu, McFarland, Osborne, Allum, Dunn, MacDonald. Subs: Gair, Vanson, Black, Wilson, Deiran, Gibson, MacKintosh.
Gala Fairydean Rovers: King, Stephen, Common, Robinson, Devlin, Miller, Aitchison, Bonner, Gibson, Paliczka, Lough, Subs: Trialist, McColm, Noble, Anderson.