Lowland League: Strollers boss rages; Late drama at Whitehill

Civil Service Strollers manager Alex Cunningham
Civil Service Strollers manager Alex Cunningham
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Civil Service Strollers boss Alex Cunningham was incensed by the performance of referee Craig Charleston in his side’s 3-1 defeat by East Stirlingshire.

Cunningham was banished from his technical area during the second half at Christie Gillies Park for protesting Charleston’s decision to award the visitors a penalty and send off captain Kyle Fee with the home side trailing 2-0.

Andy Rodgers coolly netted the resulting spot-kick to wrap up the points before David Churchill scored a consolation for Cunningham’s men.

Strollers were reduced to nine men late on when striker Scott Gormley picked up his second booking of the afternoon as the Capital side slipped to tenth in the Lowland League table.

Asked for an explanation as to why he was sent away from his dugout, Cunningham explained afterwards: “He [Charleston] said I’d been shouting at him the whole game, which wasn’t the case.

“It’s hard to take because we were getting back into things and the boy has had a fresh-air shot and fallen over so how that’s a penalty I’ll never know.

“I’ve got to be careful what I say because I’ll end up getting chastised over it but it wasn’t the best performance I’ve seen from an official.

“The first two goals killed us but we were still in the game.

“We lost a goal early at the front post but I always knew we’d have our moments to get back into it.

“The park didn’t help but I was sure we’d score the next goal having gone 2-0 down and then boom, penalty. Gee-whiz. But you can’t change it, although the laddie [Fee] has been sent off for nothing.

“We’ve not got a game this weekend but we’ll go again against Stirling Uni the following week.”

Strollers somehow failed to open the scoring in the tenth minute after a stramash in the visitors’ six-yard box as Shire rode their luck on this occasion.

And they took advantage just eight minutes later when Derek Ure’s corner was glanced home at the near post by Rodgers.

The Ochilview outfit grew in confidence as the first half wore on and Rodgers was denied a second when his net-bound header was deflected away for a corner.

Strollers found themselves two down nine minutes before the interval as Drew Ramsay’s pinpoint cross picked out Jamie McCormack, the striker finding the bottom corner despite the efforts of home No.1 Stuart Burnside.

Andy Mair’s rasping drive from 20 yards on the hour mark gave the hosts a platform to build on. However, their hopes were dashed moments later when Liam Allison, running alongside Fee, went down in the box and Charleston pointed to the spot.

Fee was wrongly dismissed as it appeared that the striker had completely lost his balance when attempting a strike on goal. Rodgers, though, capitalised to put Shire three up midway through the second half.

Churchill did well to pull a goal back when he slipped through the heart of the visitors’ defence to score before Gormley saw his frustrating afternoon come to an end in added-on time.

Elsewhere, Joe Murray’s stunning overhead kick in stoppage time saw Whitehill Welfare edge out Stirling University 3-2 at Ferguson Park.

Kieran Hall opened the scoring for the visitors in the sixth minute before Scott Lucas drew the hosts level.

Hall restored Stirling’s lead after the break but Kyle Mitchell restored parity once again with ten minutes remaining.

But Gary Small’s men weren’t to be denied as Murray’s acrobatic effort won it at the death.

Edinburgh University had to settle for a point as they played out a 1-1 stalemate with Vale of Leithen at East Peffermill.

Jack Guthrie had given the students a first-half lead but Sean Stewart’s equaliser two minutes after the restart ensured a share of the spoils.