Match Report - By Steven Mew
Despite a hat-trick for young central defender Scott Reekie, City crashed out of the Tunnocks Caramel Wafer Challenge Cup at the second round stage following a nine goal thriller against Elgin City yesterday evening.
Barry Smith made a number of changes to the side which went down to a last minute goal at Edinburgh on Saturday with Luke Watt, Jamie Reid and Emile Ngoy coming into the side as well as a debut for Jonathan Page whose registration was completed just hours prior.
City could not have got off to a worse start as the visitors took full advantage of slack play to race into a two goal lead after just 3 minutes.
Inside the opening minute, Kane Hester latched on to a loose ball in midfield to send his striker partner SHANE SUTHERLAND clear on goal. The in-form striker showed real composure to slot the ball beyond Crawford to open the scoring.
Quite remarkably, two minutes later Elgin doubled their advantage. City were unable to clear their lines on the edge of the box and the ball fell kindly for KANE HESTER who struck a terrific dipping volley into the corner of the net.
Despite this considerable early setback, City heads didn’t go down as they looked to get themselves back into the tie. Jonathan Page came close when his header from Jamie Reid’s corner struck the upright and moments later, Emile Ngoy did well to close down the keepers’ clearance however the ball ricocheted for a goal kick.
City continued to threaten with Thomas McHale fumbling Scott Reekie’s header, but the Elgin defence were on hand to block the follow-up from Jamie Reid.
From the resulting corner, City’s pressure paid off as they pulled a goal back. Matthew Knox floated a corner into the box and in an almost identical fashion to his goal against Montrose a few weeks ago, the ball dropped for SCOTT REEKIE who lashed the ball home.
Opportunities continued to come thick and fast, with Emile Ngoy having the pick of the chances when he timed his run to perfection to latch onto McCord’s through ball, however McHale made an excellent save to keep out the Frenchman.
At the other end the Black and Whites very nearly restored their two goal advantage when Crawford was unable to hold onto a shot from range - however the City keeper recovered well to deny MacEwan with his feet before Sutherland drilled wide with the goal at his mercy.
There was a blow for City as Sean McIntosh went down with a serious looking injury, which was later confirmed as a fractured metatarsal. He was replaced by Lee Duncanson.
With 36 minutes on the clock, City were back on level terms. From another corner, Matthew Knox spotted the run of JONATHAN PAGE at the near post and the defender slotted into the net with the aid of a deflection.
Back came Elgin and Sinclair was on hand to tip a low shot from Daniel MacKay round the post, before making an excellent stop to keep out Stephen Bronsky’s header from the resulting corner.
The visitors were back in front on 39 minutes when a corner was only cleared as far as KANE HESTER on the edge of the box. The striker lashed a left footed volley into the corner, leaving Sinclair with no chance.
The topsy-turvy nature of the game continued and City were back level again on the stroke of half time. After setting up the first two goals, Matthew Knox notched a hat-trick of assists when his corner was met by SCOTT REEKIE who powered a header beyond McHale.
Half time arrived which gave supporters the opportunity to reflect on an incredible first half with plenty of goalmouth action at either end in a pulsating encounter.
The second half, perhaps unsurprisingly, would prove not to be quite as lively as the first however there were still plenty of opportunities at either end.
Seven minutes into the half, Matthew Knox had a shot deflected wide with the resulting corner falling for Luke Watt on the edge of the box, however the midfielder couldn’t keep his effort down.
The strike partnership of Hester and Sutherland caused the City rearguard no end of problems throughout the game, with the latter coming close when he danced his way past a couple of challenges before being denied by McCord who threw himself in front of the shot.
At the other end, City came close through Jamie Reid who screwed his shot wide of the target and Reekie who headed just wide from a corner.
Having worked so hard to get themselves back into the tie, City’s good work was undone again as they conceded twice in as many minutes midway through the second half.
A powerful 25 yard strike from DANIEL MACKAY curled away from the despairing dive of Sinclair to put the visitors back in front and two minutes later, KANE HESTER completed his hat-trick when he beat the offside trap before lifting the ball over the advancing Sinclair and slotting into the empty net.
The stuffing was well and truly knocked out of City as Elgin pushed to put the game beyond doubt, with Sinclair doing well to push away an effort from Sutherland.
With a few minutes left on the clock, McHale made a fine save with his feet to deny a header from Knox before City gave themselves hope with a fourth goal in stoppage time. A 30 yard free kick from Knox was pushed onto the post by the Elgin keeper however SCOTT REEKIE was in the right place to convert the rebound, completing his hat-trick in the process.
It would prove to be too little, too late for City as referee Mike Roncone called time on a hugely entertaining encounter, with Gavin Price’s side progressing to the next round of the competition where they will face Dundee at Dens Park.