Match Report - By Steven Mew
After nearly seven months without competitive action, City got their 2020/21 campaign underway yesterday evening with a thoroughly entertaining encounter against Dundee United in the Betfred Cup.
Although the final scoreline portrays a comfortable win for the visitors, it was one that perhaps flattered. Mark Wilson's men can certainly hold their head high with their performance against a full time side not only three leagues above, but has also been playing Premiership football since early August.
City's starting lineup saw 6 debutants - with Dave McKay, Gregor Jordan, Matthew Todd, Scott Cusick, Leeroy Makovora and Rory Currie all making their first competitive starts for the Club.
City made a sprightly start to the game with Dave McKay having the first real chance on 4 minutes when he shot straight at Mehmet from range.
Shortly after, Rory Currie capitalised on some hesitant defending by Mark Reynolds to get a shot in on goal however Mehmet was equal to the his effort.
Jimmy Scott then had a powerful drive pushed away for a corner before Scot Cusick nearly caught out the United keeper with a cross-cum-shot which was tipped over the bar.
The visitors finally began to flex their muscles as Ryan Edwards headed wide from a corner- and they would go on edge themselves in front on the quarter hour mark.
A long range effort from Ian Harkes proved too hot to handle for Lewis McMinn who parried into the path of the on-rushing NICKY CLARK who pounced to net.
Barely a couple of minutes had passed before City, somehow, found themselves two behind. NICKY CLARK, consistently City's nemesis over the years, grabbed his second when he converted from McMullan's right sided cross at the near post.
Despite this quick-fire double blow, City heads didn't go down with Scott Cusick shooting over after coming inside on the right wing.
Matty Todd would come even closer for the hosts on 27 minutes. A cross from Makovora was met perfectly by the on-loan Dunfermline midfielder however the ball came back off the post and scrambled away to safety.
Immediately up at the other end, there was a real let off for City as Nicky Clark, now on a hat-trick, somehow screwed his effort wide from 10 yards.
Ian Harkes was causing City no end of problems with his driving runs from the heart of midfield and he was next to come close on the half hour mark when his prodded effort was kept out by McMinn.
Todd would again come desperately close to halving the deficit. A poor backpass resulted in the ball being tipped away by Mehmet. The ball only as far as Todd on the edge of the box who beat the keeper, but was denied by a United body on the line.
A minute later a stramash in the United box saw the City bench claim for a penalty however these we were waived away by the referee.
City came close again when Currie's cross at the back post found Cusick who couldn't keep his volley down. At this stage City must have been left wondering what they had to do to get on the scoresheet.
Against the run of play, United added a third goal five minutes before the break. CALUM BUTCHER collected the ball 20 yards from goal and unleashed a terrific strike which flew into the bottom corner.
As the first half drew to a close, McMinn did well to deny Clark with his feet from close range and at the other end, Cusick guided a volley wide from McKay's delivery.
City went in at the break extremely unfortunate to be three goals down, and things didn't get any better as United added their advantage just two minutes into the second period. The impressive IAN HARKES stroked into the corner from the edge of the box to give the Tangerines an insurmountable lead.
It wasn’t long before City pulled a goal back. Makovora was fouled inside the box and KIERAN INGLIS calmly slotted home the penalty against his former club.
Two minutes later City would grab another with a devastating counter attack which ended in Cusick providing a low cross for RORY CURRIE to convert from 5 yards out.
Any hopes of a dramatic City comeback were dashed on the hour mark when substitute CAMMY SMITH converted a low cross at the near post despite McMinn getting a hand to it.
The end to end nature of the game settled down at this stage, and Mark Wilson made his first substitution of the night with Michael Paton making his second City debut, coming on for Scott Cusick. Another change would follow as new signing Przemek Nawrocki replaced Jimmy Scott upfront.
On 70 minutes Kai Fotheringham had a deflected effort pushed away by the City keeper and shortly after, fellow substitute Peter Pawlett dinked over the bar from inside the box. Dillon Powers was next to try his luck from range however McMinn got down well to gather the shot comfortably.
With ten minutes remaining, City made their final change with Benjamin Luissint replacing the tireless Matty Todd who had a terrific game in the middle of the park.
Kieran Inglis blazed a volley over after the ball fell kindly for him on the edge of the box before Luissint spurned a glorious opportunity a minute later when he shot straight at Mehmet from close range.
With time running out, Nawrocki was unlucky not to connect with a low cross from McIntosh which fizzed across the face of goal – before United rounded off the scoring deep into stoppage time.
A terrific run from CAMMY SMITH saw him glide past a couple of challenges before unleashing a powerful shot into the corner.
Another tough match awaits City on Saturday as we make the relatively short journey to Perth to face another Premiership side in the shape of St Johnstone.