City overcome Stirling to boost play-off hopes

Edinburgh City returned to Ainslie Park in style to secure an important 1-0 win over Stirling Albion in a feisty Friday night affair. Aaron Fraser reports.

It was a fiery encounter in the capital. (Photo Credit – Aaron Fraser)

Once again at an Edinburgh City game, sparks would fly in the stands and on the pitch. The travelling Stirling Albion ultras took up position behind the goals, throwing confetti and ribbons as their team took to the pitch, shortly followed by the home side which roused the familiar drumbeats of the City Lads. Tensions looked to be at boiling point between both sets of fans, with chants and insults flying back and forward for the whole 90 minutes. 

Stirling Albion went on the attack straight away as Kyle Banner thumped a dangerous volley goalwards. His effort seemed destined to burst the net before being cleared off the line at the last second.

12 minutes into the match, City created their first meaningful chance. Returning left back Callum Crane unleashed a 25-yard strike to produce an excellent save from Blair Currie. The Binos ‘keeper had to be alert to tip Crane’s dipping effort over his crossbar. 

Currie was at it again not long after to keep the game goalless. A wicked delivery from John Robertson found its way to Michael Travis at the far post. The City defender lashed an effort goalwards only for Currie to miraculously claw the ball to safety.

The final incident of the first half was straight out of the Ainslie Park joke book. Spartans Ladies were training on the astro turf next door, and a stray ball landed on the pitch while play was ongoing. John Robertson took great delight in hammering the invading ball straight back over the fence. Amazingly, the referee didn’t stop the game once while this was going on, which greatly angered the Albion fans watching their team attempt to defend a counter attack with two balls on the field of play. 

Half time came and went with the entertainment being a stag do attempting the crossbar challenge. Spoiler alert, the lot of them failed miserably. Might not have been a good idea trying to kick a ball in pointy shoes, lads.

Dylan Mackin went close for the Binos with a header before City almost went ahead in comical fashion. Stirling defender Jordan McGregor diverted a cross onto his own post, but thankfully for him the ball didn’t end up in the net. 

Eventually the opening goal would arrive for the hosts. A long throw in was flicked on for Lee Hamilton to hammer home from just inside the six yard box. The City players sprinted to the corner flag in joy, a loud roar went up from the home end and a black and white smoke bomb even found its way onto the concourse. The Citizens were ahead!

The rest of the game would pass without much goalmouth incident, but this would be made up for with the amount of fights that broke out. On numerous occasions players from both sides would go flying into a shoving match after a particularly bad tackle from either side, which made the closing stages of the match very entertaining.

City manager Gary Naysmith had an update for fans on the current injury situation: “Anthony McDonald will be back on Saturday, if not on Tuesday. Callum Tapping felt something in training on Wednesday night and we didn’t want to take a risk just now. We’ll just let that settle down for a little while then we’ll see where he is. 

When asked how he felt on the club’s unbeaten run being extended to 6 league games in a row, Naysmith said: “The run just happens, for me it’s just game by game. We knew if we won tonight, we went 10 points clear of Stirling Albion which means it will be difficult for them to catch us. We also knew we could open up a gap on Stranraer and Stenhousemuir. Knowing all this going into the game, for the players to deliver three points in a tough game, I’m really happy”.

Edinburgh City’s next game is on Tuesday night at home to Albion Rovers, while Stirling Albion face Forfar Athletic at home on the same day.

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