Match Report - By Steven Mew
City’s new look side went down narrowly to Annan Athletic in the opening League Two fixture yesterday afternoon, with Steven Swinglehurst’s second half header enough to separate the sides in sweltering conditions at Glebe Park.
Although there have been some entertaining Scottish Cup encounters over the years, this was the first league clash between the two sides since the Galabankies were introduced to the Scottish Football League in 2008.
Barry Smith made two changes to the side that drew with Montrose in the final Betfred group fixture last weekend, with Ryan McCord and Ross Crawford coming in for Jamie Reid and the suspended Ross Brown.
In a first half largely devoid of clear cut chances, the visitors were first to threaten on five minutes when Lewis McLear dragged wide of the post. The Galabankies were forced into a change just minutes later when the injured Kyle Bradley was replaced by Ayrton Sonkur.
With 23 minutes on the clock, Annan should have been ahead when a cross into the box was met by the unmarked Swinglehurst who headed just wide with the goal at his mercy.
City started to come into the game and Ross Crawford, making his senior league debut, got on the end of a cutback from Matthew Knox but he couldn’t guide his effort goalwards and five minutes later, Crawford had a shot deflected wide for a corner.
At the other end, keeper Ross Sinclair was called into action for the first team when he did well to push away a shot by McLear and Scott Reekie was on hand to block the rebound from Tommy Muir.
Ross Crawford looked the most likely to break the deadlock for City – Ryan McCord floated a ball over the top for the big striker who struck powerfully on the volley however keeper Aaron Taylor did well to keep the ball out at the near post.
Lady luck was not on Annan’s side in terms of injuries as they had to make their second sub of the afternoon shortly before half time as on-loan Hamilton forward Niyah Joseph limped off, with the experienced Christian Nade entering the fray.
City started the second half brightly and a quick free kick from McCord sent McIntosh through on goal but he delayed on the shot which allowed Sonkur to block.
Shortly after the hour mark, City had keeper Ross Sinclair to thank for keeping the scoreline level. The young goalkeeper did supremely well to block Tommy Muir’s effort with his feet.
However, two minutes later Sinclair was beaten as the visitors took the lead. Again, STEVEN SWINGLEHURST was allowed too much room in the box and he took full advantage to power home a header from Scott McLean’s corner.
City reacted well to going behind with the Annan keeper getting down well to save a low shot from Crawford and just a minute later, the same player headed just wide at the back post.
Full back Chris McLaughlin displayed a fine range of passing and his wicked delivery from the left found McManus but the experienced frontman was unable to get enough on his header.
With fifteen minutes remaining, Manager Barry Smith made his first change on with Kieran Inglis replacing Crawford and City continued to press for an equaliser with Taylor tipping a 25 yard free kick by Matthew Knox over the bar.
Five minutes later, City were just a lick of paint away from levelling the scoreline. The lively Olly Hamilton beat the offside trap to go clean through on goal and the 17 year-old placed his effort beyond the keeper, only to see the ball cannon off the inside of the post before being cleared to safety.
In a last throw of the dice, striker Emile Ngoy replaced Matthew Knox but a streetwise Annan side saw the game out with relative ease to come away from Glebe Park with all three points.
Next up for City is a trip to the capital to face Edinburgh City at Ainslie Park, with the Citizens coming off the back of a crushing 5-0 defeat to league favourites Cove Rangers.
Other Results - Ladbrokes League Two
Cove Rangers 5 Edinburgh City 0
A dream start to SPFL life for Cove as they thump 9-man Edinburgh.
Elgin City 3 Cowdenbeath 0
Comfortable win for City at Borough Briggs.
Stenhousemuir 2 Albion Rovers 3
The wee Rovers pick up an impressive win on the road.
Stirling Albion 0 Queen's Park 1
The Spiders edge out Stirling at Forthbank.