Match Report - By Steven Mew
City’s hopes of avoiding bottom place suffered a major setback as they were comprehensively beaten by fellow strugglers Albion Rovers at Glebe Park yesterday afternoon.
The result, coupled with Cowdenbeath picking up three points against Elgin City, means that City currently sit 6 points adrift of 9th placed Annan Athletic with a vastly inferior goal difference.
The performances of late have not been reflected in the results, and with a number of players back from injury and suspension there was an air of optimism pre-match that Michael Paton’s side could reduce the gap at the bottom of the table. Unfortunately this was not to be case as they meekly surrendered to an Albion Rovers side who simply wanted it more.
Yusuf Hussain and Bobby Barr returned from suspension, whilst Rory Currie also came into the starting 11 as Michael Paton made three changes from the side that drew against Stenhousemuir in midweek. City would be without the services of the influential Connor Barron who unfortunately sustained ankle ligament damage which will now rule him out for the remainder of the season.
Gerry McLauchlan had also been due to start the game, however he pulled up with a calf problem in the warm up, with Ewan McLevy taking his place.
City would have the first chance of the game within the opening couple of minutes. In an attempt to stop the ball from going out of play, goalkeeper Harry Stone inexplicably spilled the ball into the path of Rory Currie who blazed over from a tight angle.
However, the Wee Rovers opened the scoring just a minute later. Matty Aitken managed to get goal-side of Harris O’Connor to latch onto a long ball and although Hutton did well to save with his feet, the ball sat up for LEWIS WILSON who lashed a volley high into the net from a difficult angle.
City needed a reaction to the early setback and Rory Currie was again unlucky as he failed to get enough on a cross from Sean McIntosh to guide it goalwards.
There was a real let-off for City on 20 minutes when Matty Aitken broke clear and with the City defence standing idle claiming for offside, Hutton did supremely well to keep out the shot with his feet. The City coaching team on the touchline were unsurprisingly furious at the way in which the defence didn’t play to the whistle.
Rory Currie continued to get in the right positions as Bobby Barr knocked the ball back for him in the box but saw his his shot blocked. Two minutes later, City had the ball in the net as Sean McIntosh headed home from a McKee corner however the referee ruled it out for an infringement in the box.
The visitors then gave themselves a two goal cushion after 34 minutes. A corner from the left hand side wasn’t cleared and after a couple of shots were blocked, on-loan Pollok defender PAUL GALLAGHER placed a shot beyond the reach of Hutton via the inside of the post.
City needed to bounce back quickly and they reduced the deficit just a couple of minutes later. Adam Devine’s angled shot from the right side of the box was parried by Harry Stone but only as far as RORY CURRIE who reacted quickest to convert the rebound.
A snow blizzard descended upon Glebe Park as City chased an equaliser before the break. A cross from the right hand side found Bobby Barr at the back post but off balance, he screwed his shot wide. The home side would come close again with Devine again having some success down the right – his low cross was diverted goalwards by Currie only for Stone to show great reactions to save with his knee.
Michael Paton would have been looking for his side to start the second half on the front foot, however Albion Rovers would restore their two goal advantage five minutes into the second half. A delivery from the left side was met sweetly by the vastly experienced RYAN STEVENSON who fired a volley in off the underside of the crossbar.
Six minutes later the game was more or less over as a contest when Brian Reid’s side netted a fourth goal. The City defence was in complete disarray as Matty Aitken conjured up some space in the box and although his initial effort was kept out by Hutton, CALLUM WILSON was on hand to convert from 6 yards out.
The game well and truly petered out at this stage as it was all about game management from the visitors against a shell-shocked City outfit.
One of the few positives from the game was the return of both Player/Manager Michael Paton and Abdul Osman from injury as they came on with 20 minutes remaining, replacing Adam Devine and Kieran Inglis.
City plugged away as they looked to add some respectability to the scoreline with Chris McKee firing a volley over before Michael Paton had a shot blocked on the edge of the box.
With two minutes remaining, City’s day went from bad to worse as on-loan Rangers youngster Chris McKee was given a second yellow after the referee deemed he had dived on the edge of the box.
City did manage to pull a goal back with what proved to be the last kick of the game. Rory Currie was fouled 20 yards out and MICHAEL PATON curled a splendid free kick into the corner for his first goal since returning to City.
Overall, a massively disappointing afternoon for City who have it all to do now in the remaining 7 games of the season. Next up is a tough trip to face 2nd placed Edinburgh City on Tuesday.