NEW Edinburgh United boss Ian Flynn believes his young side will have learned a lot from their narrow South Region Challenge Cup third-round defeat by Edinburgh University.
The East of Scotland outfit went down fighting against their Lowland League counterparts, with Aiden Kemp netting the only goal of the tie in the first-half at a rain-soaked Peffermill.
Former Whitehill Under-20s coach Flynn took the reins at Paties Road after John O’Hara made the decision to stand down from the role after almost two years in charge. And he was pleased with the way his team competed against the Students on their lush green playing surface.
He said: “I was delighted with the way we performed against an established Lowland League side.
“There were a lot of positives and, on another day, we could easily have taken Edinburgh Uni to extra-time. I don’t think many people would’ve grudged us that.
“It’s still a defeat, but we stayed in the game until the 93rd minute, so hopefully the boys will use this as a huge learning curve. There was lots of hard-work and endeavour from our lads, but we were just lacking that final end product.
“It was a disappointing goal to lose and that’s been our biggest problem recently. We’ve lost an early goal in just about every single game we’ve played this season.
“I’m quite positive, though. We are a relatively new team, but we’re improving slowly and I’m confident we’ll continue to get better.
“We’re competitive which is the most important thing, so if we continue like that going forward, we’ll be able to add the wee bits of quality required to start winning more games.”
This was the first ever competitive meeting between the sides and it proved to be far from straightforward for Dorian Ogunro’s men, who were warm favourites to progress.
The only goal arrived after just seven minutes. Luke Murray’s free-kick from the left was headed clear but the ball broke back out to the full-back who launched a perfectly-weighted cross towards the unmarked Aiden Kemp. He was given acres of space and time to guide his header back across goal into the corner of the net, despite the visitors’ strong appeals for offside.
Gabri Auriemma passed up a great chance to level the match after 16 minutes when the pacey striker raced through on goal but lifted his effort high and wide of the far post.
United keeper Darren Walker produced an excellent reflex save to deny Mark Gair from close range on 33 minutes following a clever passing move and David Smith arguably went closest to doubling the Uni’s lead when he blazed over after connecting with Murray’s cross.
James Redpath’s left footed free-kick from 20 yards forced Uni keeper Calum Davison into a save as half-time approached and Shaun Conlon had a shot cleared off the line.
The Uni appeared content to sit back after the break and protect their slender lead as the visitors enjoyed some late pressure.
Auriemma fired a shot inches over the crossbar before United keeper Walker charged up for a late corner and almost struck a dramatic equaliser, but his volley was deflected wide.
O’Hara’s departed 13 days ago, and Flynn added: “I won’t do things any differently. I brought in a few players I’ve worked with previously, but it’s very much the same vision John and I shared together when he was in charge, so not a lot has changed in that respect.”
Meanwhile, a double from skipper Craig Malcolm sealed East Kilbride’s safe passage through to the last 16 at Leith Athletic’s expense. Elsewhere, five ties fell victim to the wet weather as Storm Callum continued to wreak havoc across the country, including Newtongrange Star’s eagerly anticipated clash with Civil Service Strollers.