Gareth Thom’s red card lights up City-Whitehill stalemate

Jordan Caddow for City rises to head clear from Kerr Dodds. Picture: Jon Savage
Jordan Caddow for City rises to head clear from Kerr Dodds. Picture: Jon Savage
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Edinburgh City and Whitehill Welfare both extended their unbeaten runs in the Lowland League this season as they battled to a 0-0 draw at Meadowbank.

There was little to shout about last night in a match that featured plenty of commitment and effort, but was short on goal-mouth action. The most notable incident was Whitehill defender Gareth Thom’s straight red card for violent conduct two minutes from time.

Whitehill boss Mickey Lawson admitted he didn’t have the best view of the incident, but acknowledged the hard task referees face.

“I was at a bad angle,” he said. “I thought our boy jumped into him, but I didn’t see if it was his elbow. He was trying to shield the ball out and jumped back into him but I couldn’t see his elbow.

“The referees have a hard enough job, but if he caught him it must have been his right elbow.”

The visitors were first to have a sight of goal after ten minutes. Aaron Somerville’s free-kick was well struck, but equally well dealt with by City ‘keeper Andrew Stobie.

The hosts imposed themselves on the early stages, with Ian McFarland sending a header wide and Mark Osborne volleying straight at Bryan Young within sixty seconds of each other. Young had to look sharp again on 13 minutes to palm John MacDonald’s low drive round the post.

McFarland came close again in the 25th minute when he sent a dipping volley narrowly wide from distance before Wayne Sproule’s swerving shot flashed across Stobie’s goal just after the half-hour mark.

Top-scorer Mark Osborne was next to have a go from distance six minutes before the break, but his effort lacked the necessary accuracy to trouble Young.

The second half produced even less scoring opportunities. The clearest chance of the game came on 67 minutes when Steven Manson volleyed Sproule’s cross over from close range, but the wide man’s blushes were spared somewhat thanks to the assistant flagging for an earlier offside.

The game became more stretched after that point, but neither side was able to make the final pass count as the match edged towards a goalless draw.

The flashpoint came with two minutes remaining. Gareth Thom initially won a free-kick under pressure from Ross Guthrie, but reacted to his opponent’s close attention by throwing an elbow, for which referee Simon McLean promptly dismissed the Rosewell club’s left-back to end the game on a sour note.

City boss Gary Jardine felt a point apiece was a just outcome for both teams.

“I suppose it was a fair result – there wasn’t a lot of quality,” he said. “I felt we were trying to push and we just lacked a wee bit after playing eight games in 32 days. I think that told.

“We were without eight players tonight. It’s disappointing not to take anything but against a side that’s won the league in the last couple of years and are always there or thereabouts – that’s a measure of how far my players have come.”

Lawson was of a similar opinion. “Considering who was missing and they way they kept possession in the first half, I’d have been very happy with a point,” he said.

“We actually got a touch of the ball in the second half and the longer the game went on, I thought we looked the more likely to score and had the best chance of the game.

“Then after the sending off, you’re settling for a point again, so it was an up and down day.”

Edinburgh City: Stobie; Caddow; McConnell; McKee; Paterson; Mbu; McFarland; Gair; MacDonald (Guthrie 75); Torrance (Wilson 54); Osborne.

Whitehill Welfare: Young; Hall; Thom; McDiarmid; Sproule; Dodds; Manson (Flynn 83); Kidd; Martin; Somerville (McKenzie 88); Ross-Kerr (McLaughlin 71).