Civil Service Strollers were comprehensively beaten 3-0 by Lowland League table-toppers East Kilbride at Christie Gillies Park.
Kilby, the reigning champions, have increased their lead over second-placed Spartans to six points. However, Dougie Samuel’s men do have three games in hand over their South Lanarkshire rivals.
The visitors didn’t take long to find their rhythm and were ahead as early as the fourth minute. Former Livingston midfielder Kieran Gibbons was upended just outside the Civil penalty area and up stepped Craig Malcolm to thunder the resulting free-kick beyond Stuart Burnside and into the roof of the net.
With their tails up, Kilby wasted little time in setting about trying to add to their lead and they did just that a minute later when Ross McNeil was sent through on goal and the striker finished with aplomb.
Billy Stark’s side were awarded a penalty in the 20th minute but Malcolm spurned the opportunity to put the game out of sight as the on-loan Alloa man blazed high over the bar.
However, Malcolm was the creator for Kilby’s third two minutes before half-time as his lay-off to Sean Winter was clinically dispatched beyond Burnside.
The hosts rallied after the interval but the damage was done during the opening 45 minutes. Strollers remain eighth, a point adrift of Cumbernauld Colts.
Meanwhile, Edinburgh University are now just four points behind their city rivals after a 1-0 victory over Gala Fairydean Rovers at East Peffermill.
However, the students left it until virtually the last kick of the game when Nathan Evans converted Jack Guthrie’s pass to secure maximum points.
“It was a poor first half as it was a bit of a struggle for both sides because of the conditions,” Uni manager Dorian Ogunro said. “We were better in the second half, although there still wasn’t much quality on show. We kept pushing though and our desire definitely got us the win.”
Spartans play one of their games in hand when they visit bottom side Hawick Royal Albert tomorrow night (kick-off 7.45pm).