Civil Service Strollers boss Gary Jardine insists there is more to come from his players following their 3-1 victory over Edinburgh University.
Strollers picked up their first win of the new campaign at East Peffermill on Saturday, goals from Ross Guthrie, a Cameron Muirhead penalty and Jonathan Devers proving to be decisive against the hard working students, who halved the deficit late on through Abdul Yusuf.
However, Strollers had to play almost the entire second half with ten men following referee Alex Shepherd’s decision to send striker James Hainey off for a high challenge on Uni defender Mark Gair.
Nevertheless, Jardine is feeling optimistic with what he’s seen so far.
“There’s still much more to come from this team,” Jardine said afterwards. “We’ve got seven players out injured but every game in this league is going to be competitive. Perhaps in the past when you played well you were guaranteed the points but that doesn’t happen anymore.
“I thought we could have had a goal or two more after a really decent first half. The sending off has played a big part in how the Uni came into the match and they could have ended up getting a point in the end.
“We’ve played really well in our first three games so I think the boys deserve more than the four points they’ve got.”
The grass pitch, one of the few in the Lowland League, is in immaculate condition but Uni goalkeeper Callum Davison’s indecisiveness put his side under pressure more than once inside the opening ten minutes.
The visitors deservedly assumed the lead in the 25th minute. Hainey chased down what looked to be a lost cause and from his pinpoint delivery, picked out the run of former Edinburgh City and Spartans attacker Guthrie, who guided his header beyond Davison into the bottom corner.
Strollers were a lick of paint from applying a second and what an effort is was from Hainey. A terrific reverse pass from captain Mark McConnell sent his team-mate scampering through on goal and the striker’s rasping drive came crashing back off Davison’s left-hand post.
Luke Murray then stopped what looked a certain goal with a last-ditch block to deny Scott Clapperton but Jardine’s men did increase their advantage a minute before they break. David Smith’s clumsy challenge on Shaun Turnbull didn’t go unpunished and Muirhead provided the finish from 12 yards.
Hainey, who had enjoyed a fine first half, was then given his marching orders for a high tackle on Gair seven minutes after the restart as tempers began to fray.
Stuart Macfarlane saw his 25-yard effort come back off the post via the fingertips of Kyle Rankin as Uni cranked up the pressure, with midfielder Greg Swann suffering the same fate just minutes later.
Yusuf did reduce the deficit with just two minutes remaining from a couple of yards but substitute Jonathan Devers made sure of all three points in added-on time.
“I’m not angry at the players,” Uni boss Dorian Ogunro said. “We’ve got four points which I didn’t expect so it’s not the end of the world. But I am always looking for improvement.
“I made three changes at the break as I just felt we needed more composure. We had a lot of pressure when they went down to ten men but I think they deserved the win. They had a game plan, were quicker to the ball and stuck to their game plan.”
Meanwhile, champions Spartans picked up their first win of the season with a 4-1 success at Vale of Leithen with former Vale striker Jason Stevens scoring twice.
And managerless Whitehill Welfare lost their third game in a row with a 4-2 defeat by Gretna 2008 at Ferguson Park.
Edinburgh University: Davison (Tait 46), Murray, Gair, Maguire, Macfarlane, Daniels-Yeoman, Conington (Kuivalainen 46), Swann, Yusuf, Smith, Baird (McNicholas 46). Subs: Thomson, Laing, McIntosh.
Civil Service Strollers: Rankin, Newall, Muirhead (Ballantyne 84), Turnbull, Laird, Fee, McConnell, Clapperton, Guthrie (Mair 65), Hainey, Churchill (Devers 84). Subs: Boyle, MacNamara.
Referee: Alex Shepherd.