Edinburgh City 0 – 1 Stirling Albion
Having recorded an impressive away win at Stenhousemuir last week, City missed out on a golden opportunity to close the gap on title rivals Cove Rangers, denied on several occasions by the heroics of Nicky Hogarth in the Albion goal.
City went into the break wondering what it would take to win this game. On-loan from Rangers, Hogarth twice thwarted the home side with a superb point blank save from Liam Henderson before tipping captain Craig Thomson’s goal-bound free-kick round the post.
The visitors would rely on their teenage keeper again, adjusting his feet superbly to keep out a deflected Thomson free-kick that many in the stands thought would be their breakthrough. In the end, it would turn out to be Stirling’s day. With 69 minutes on the clock, defender Jordan McGregor stole the game for the away side when he met a David Wilson cross with a diving header.
Kevin Rutkiewicz’s men were able to maintain their advantage, using their momentum to create two more chances, one denied brilliantly by the feet of Welshman Callum Antell. The result brings Albion up to 5th in the table after 4 wins in 5 and leaves City counting themselves unlucky not to have taken anything from the game.
City’s missed opportunities
Coming into the game after a mixed-January, manager James McDonaugh’s players showed the intensity from the first whistle which they have exhibited throughout the season in pursuit of automatic promotion.
City started brightly, dominating possession and gaining two sights of goal from Liam Henderson and Danny Handling. It wasn’t until the 17th minute that they first tested teenager Nicky Hogarth in the Albion goal. A free-kick from captain Craig Thomson from the right wing was met by Liam Henderson, whose header was spectacularly tipped over from point blank range by the reflexes of Albion’s No.1.
It wasn’t long before Thomson had his own attempt on goal, the right-back’s set pieces consistently terrorising the Albion defence throughout the game. Whipped towards the top corner from the left side of the box, Hogarth scrambled over before diving to palm the ball round the post, causing gasps to ring out around Ainslie Park.
Hogarth was intent on maintaining his clean sheet in the second half. Thomson again laid down the ball on the edge of the box. This time, the captain’s free-kick was deflected upon hitting the Albion wall. As everyone inside the ground held their breath, Hogarth adjusted his body well to tip the ball over his bar.
Albion’s snatch and grab
Albion rallied behind their goalie, sensing that there was an opportunity for a snatch and grab win. Consequently, City would rue their missed chances as Stirling broke the deadlock on 69 minutes with their first attempt on target of the game. Winger David Wilson broke down the right wing for the visitors before producing a deadly inswinging cross into the City penalty area. Connecting with a diving header, defender Jordan McGregor scored his second goal in two games, giving Callum Antell in goal no chance of stopping it.
Sensing blood, Albion finished the game with the momentum gained from their goal, bringing two fine saves out of Antell. The second of which was a low driving effort from Darryl Duffie on the right wing, superbly stopped by the foot of Antell to give City hope in the dying minutes. Unfortunately it was not to be City’s day. Albion defended resolutely to take an important 3 points away from the capital and continue to solidify their place in the division.
Manager McDonaugh was understandably disappointed after the game: ‘when they score, we concede a terrible goal from our point of view and we don’t do well enough after that to try and even get a point out of the game.’
Alluding to the heroics of Hogarth in the opposition goal, McDonaugh noted how: ‘he kept them in the game at a time that we were on top’. He was quick to point out frankly, however, that having possession and chances ‘doesn’t win you three points’.
Going forward, McDonaugh outlined that City ‘can’t be losing games from giving opposition two opportunities in the match’. With Cove dropping points this weekend also, the manager said that the team can be hurt and disappointed this weekend but need to look forward to another tough fixture next weekend before facing Cove away, a match which will have all eyes drawn to the score ticker and all fingers crossed for a City win.
Annan Athletic (H) Saturday 8 February 2020