Match Report - By Steven Mew
City’s hopes of avoiding bottom spot in League 2 suffered a hammer blow as Elgin City netted twice late on to snatch all three points at Glebe Park yesterday afternoon.
With just seven minutes remaining it looked as if it was going to be a good day at the office for City thanks to Jimmy Scott’s first half opener on his debut.
However goals from Inverness-bound Shane Sutherland and substitute Smart Osolador in the space of 4 disastrous minutes, coupled with Albion Rovers fighting back from 2-0 down to pick up a valuable point against league leaders Cove meant City fell six points behind at the bottom having played two games more.
Manager Mark Wilson had been busy in the transfer market in the lead up to the game, with Rhys McCabe, Jimmy Scott and Paddy O’Neil joining the club and all three were included in the matchday squad.
There were three changes to the side that lost narrowly at Cowdenbeath last week, with Scott starting at the expense of McManus whilst Aidan Laverty also made his first start for the club. Christopher McLaughlin made his first appearance since mid-November, having been sidelined with a knee injury.
In a fairly quiet start to the game, the visitors conjured up a couple of half chances in the opening quarter of an hour with Shane Sutherland firing a volley high over the bar, whilst Daniel McKay did likewise with a shot from outside the box.
City’s first real opportunity arrived after 22 minutes when a fairly innocuous looking cross from Olly Hamilton was almost sliced into his own net by Rory MacEwan, however McHale did well to tip the ball over the crossbar.
The home side would go on to open the scoring shortly before the half hour mark following a fine passing move. Ryan McCord showed his craft with an intricate flick over the top for JIMMY SCOTT to control on his chest before firing a volley past McHale for his first City goal.
Just several minutes after the opener, Andy Jackson’s cross was cleared only as far as McCord who would go for goal himself however he couldn’t connect properly with the shot which flew harmlessly wide.
As in previous fixtures, the strike partnership of Kane Hester and Shane Sutherland caused City problems on the break but the defence held firm with some fine tackling and last ditch blocks.
City just about deserved their lead at the break but had been overrun in central midfield at times. In light of this, Mark Wilson made a change at half time as Aidan Laverty made way for fellow new recruit Rhys McCabe.
The visitors really should have levelled things up three minutes into the second period. Shane Sutherland was denied by McMinn at his near post and as the frontman dinked the rebound to the back post for Daniel McKay, he somehow sent a diving header wide with the goal gaping.
Sutherland threatened again just a couple of minutes later following a counter attacking move, but he drilled his left footed effort wide of the far post.
City forced a number of corners midway through the second half but were unable to take advantage of these, with many of the deliveries failing to clear the first defender.
On 73 minutes City almost doubled their advantage. Jimmy Scott played a clever reverse pass for McCord down the left side who drilled a low ball across the face of goal only for Archie MacPhee to impressively turn the ball round the post with Olly Hamilton waiting to convert.
Elgin pushed men forward in search of an equaliser with substitute Smart Osolador joining Sutherland and Hester as they went with a front three. The City defence held firm up until the 83rd minute when SHANE SUTHERLAND levelled things up. The leagues’ top scorer took down a long ball over the top before striking through the legs of McMinn at his near post.
Things went from bad to worse for City as the visitors got their noses in front just four minutes later. Matthew Cooper floated a cross into the box for SMART OSOLADOR who rose above McIntosh to guide a header into the corner.
A shell-shocked City side looked to get a late equaliser, and they they almost got it deep into stoppage time when Olly Hamilton let fly from the edge of the box but McHale was equal to the effort, palming the shot wide.
Overall, a damaging defeat for a City side who led for much of the game and they now head into what can only be billed as a 'must win' fixture against Albion Rovers next weekend.
Other Results - Ladbrokes League Two
Albion Rovers 2 Cove Rangers 2
Albion fight back from two goals down to earn a point against the league leaders.
Annan Athletic 0 Stenhousemuir 3
Thumping win for the Warriors at Galabank.
Edinburgh City 0 Stirling Albion 1
Fine win for Stirling over 2nd placed Edinburgh at Ainslie Park.
Queen's Park 1 Cowdenbeath 0
The Spiders edge out Cowden at Hampden.