Edinburgh United saw their 100 per cent record end as Dundonald hit them with two sucker punches in a game the Capital side would have had wrapped up by half-time had they taken their chances.
This top-of-the-table South League clash drew a big crowd for Edinburgh’s first home game of their league campaign but, after dominating for long spells, they were made to pay for a string of missed opportunities in both halves.
Boss Johnny Harvey was pleased with the performance if not the result. He said: “I can’t be angry with the players. They gave 100 per cent and that’s all we asked for.
“We had the chances to win this game and more but didn’t take them We’ll still be in there fighting for the title. They beat us with two soft goals but, overall, I’m pleased with how the players did, although disappointed that we took nothing from a game we dominated.
Edinburgh started strongly but had to survive a big scare in the fifth minute when the ball was finally knocked out for a corner after an almighty scramble on the goal line. The City side regrouped and were soon once again pressing hard for the opener.
Good work from Mark Smith gave Michael Fairnie a chance but he delayed too long and Dundonald goalkeeper Lenny Lennox blocked his effort for a corner.
Kenny Fisher was next up but again the visiting keeper blocked out to Smith but he too saw his drive saved.
Then, in the 17th minute, disaster struck for the home side. Dundonald were awarded a free-kick 30 yards out with Lee Duffy, the former Bo’ness and Glenrothes player, lining up for a crack at goal. It looked too far out to trouble Sinclair Inglis in the Edinburgh goal but Duffy had different ideas and his looping drive found the top corner with Inglis flailing.
Edinburgh again regrouped and were soon creating plenty of chances with Dundonald surviving a strong penalty claim after a handball from a Smith cross. The homes side again dominated at the start of the second half and Dundonald by this time were hanging on grimly to their one-goal advantage with keeper Lennox outstanding, his best save a fingertip effort to send a Kenny Fisher shot round the post.
Smith had chances to grab the equaliser but, when in good positions, he lacked the required composure.
As time ran out, Edinburgh became frustrated as the Fife side held firm and tempers became frayed as some meaty tackles were dished out. Referee Robert Thomson, though, kept a firm grip on the game.
Edinburgh were now chasing the game and almost paid the penalty again, Duffy smacking another long range effort off the bar with Craig Morrison bringing out a good save from Inglis from the rebound.
As the full time whistle approached, it was becoming obvious that Edinburgh weren’t going to score and, with the players desperate for a win in front of their own fans, they were hit by the final sucker punch.
A long ball played out of the Dundonald defence was misjudged by Chris Inglis allowing Craig Morrison a run in on goal. He took his time, surviving challenges from the keeper and Inglis to roll the ball into the empty net with three minutes remaining on the clock.
Edinburgh player Chris Gordon is confident his side will bounce back. He said: “I thought we were the better side up until their second goal.
“That result could come back and bite us. Results like this could cost us the league but there’s still a long way to go though and we’ll bounce back.”
Edinburgh United: S Inglis, Darling (Quinn), Draper (Mitchell), Smeaton, Gordon, C Inglis, Fairnie, Hume, McMillan, Smith, Fisher (Hunter). Subs: Dick, Paterson.
Dundonald Bluebell: Lennox, McCreadie, Graham (Wallace), Laird, Shields, Terris, Walton, Duffy, Young, Lally, Morrison (Murphy). Subs: Carr, Brown, Wilson.