Match Report - By Steven Mew
A much-changed City side fell to a narrow defeat against high-flying Stirling Albion yesterday afternoon but with plenty of positives to take into the busy schedule ahead.
After two and half months without a competitive fixture, City took to the field with an unfamiliar looking lineup, with all eight of Michael Paton’s new recruits making the starting eleven.
The City boss will have been heartened with his sides’ performance - limiting a Stirling side, who were 5-0 winners in the last meeting at Glebe Park, to very few chances throughout.
Understandably, it was an extremely quiet first half with both sides short of match fitness following a long layoff.
Jordan McGregor entered the book for bundling down Sean Slaven after 24 minutes and shortly after the half hour mark, former City skipper Paul McLean appeared to twist his knee and hobbled off to be replaced by David Wilson.
The first real opportunity for either side came City’s way on 43 minutes. Connor Barron’s in-swinging corner was met by the head of on-loan Rangers striker Chris McKee at the post, however Cammy Binnie did well to tip over the bar.
The game truly did spark to life just before the break as Stirling should have broken the deadlock on the counter attack. Ross McGeachie’s low cross fell kindly for Dominic Docherty around six yards out but with the goal at his mercy, he blazed over the bar.
On the stroke of half time, Sean Slaven took down a long ball from O’Connor and laid the ball off for Connor Barron – the Aberdeen youngster advanced forward and unleashed a rasping drive from 25 yards which had to be tipped round the post by Binnie.
The hugely impressive Barron threatened again early in the second period when he came inside from the right, turned his man before striking over the bar from the edge of the box.
At the other end, the hosts had their first effort on target as Ross McGeachie’s effort from a similar range was comfortably dealt with by Hutton.
City’s only booking of the match came on 50 minutes when Abdul Osman was carded despite appearing the win the ball with his challenge.
On 54 minutes, Player/Manager Michael Paton appeared to tweak his hamstring and was replaced by Connor Coupe. A minute later, Andy Ryan tried his luck from the edge of the box but his effort was comfortably saved by Hutton.
Ryan would however go on to set up the only goal of the game after 65 minutes. His searching, cross-field delivery found substitute KIERAN MOORE unmarked at the back post who finished with aplomb, firing a left footed volley back across goal and into the corner.
City reacted almost immediately and Barron would again threaten when his strike from range was deflected into the arms of the goalkeeper.
With City struggling to create opportunities, strikers Rory Currie and Chris Paton were introduced for Bobby Barr and Sean Slaven on 74 minutes as they chased an equaliser.
Paton went on to use his full quota of substitutes – something that will likely be common over the coming month as game time is managed during an intense schedule. With seven minutes remaining Gerry McLauchlan and Abdul Osman were replaced by Gregor Jordan and Kieran Inglis.
Unfortunately for City, there would no further opportunities for either side as Stirling held out for a narrow win which takes them up into 2nd place.
City, of course, remain in bottom position albeit with favourable results elsewhere and with plenty of positives to take into Tuesday’s match against Stranraer at Stair Park.