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Report: St Mirren 3-0 Edinburgh City

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By Stuart Gillespie at the Paisley 2021 Stadium
It’s rare that a three goal win will be greeted with a mix of apathy and frustration but that’s the strange scenario Saints fans find themselves in tonight.
Saints needed to beat Edinburgh City by at least four goals to overhaul Ayr United in their Betfred Cup group and by half-time looked well on course to do it with ease, goals from Lawrence Shankland, Tom Walsh and Jack Baird giving them a comfortable lead.
One more goal was all that was needed after the break but it just wouldn’t come. The visitors defended resolutely and kept chances to a minimum, subs Ryan Hardie and John Sutton having the best of them but being unable to score a crucial fourth. As a result, the Buddies find themselves out of the cup despite winning three of their four games.
Shankland and Walsh were two of the four changes made to the side that lost heavily to Hamilton Accies last week, Jordan Stewart and keeper Scott Gallacher also coming into the team. Jamie Langfield was on the bench along with John Sutton, Calum Gallagher and new signing Ryan Hardie with Gary Irvine missing out completely. The SPFL new boys had made some new signings during the week and goalie Calum Antell and former Scotland striker Craig Beattie both started.
Shankland and David Clarkson were linking up well in the opening stages and the former almost put Saints in front inside the first 10 minutes, forcing Kyle Hutton’s near post cross towards goal only for Antell to scramble it behind. It didn’t take the on-loan striker much longer to get on the scoresheet though as the Buddies took the lead a few minutes later. Stephen Mallan’s long range shot was deflected to Lewis Morgan and the young winger did well to work himself enough time and space to hang a right-footed cross up at the back post for Shankland to nod in the opener.
Saints, knowing they needed to rattle in the goals to have any chance of winning the group, were dominating proceedings, Walsh heading into the arms of Antell from another Morgan delivery before Clarkson shot well over. Saints continued to knock on the door, Walsh looking to have added the second only to see his shot cleared off the line. Clarkson created a fantastic opportunity for Shankland when he headed the ball back across for his strike partner but, with most of the goal to aim at, Shankland headed straight at Antell and the keeper just managed to keep hold of the ball without crossing the line.
The second finally arrived after half an hour. Clarkson found Shankland who in turn played the ball out to Walsh, the on loan winger switching the ball to his right foot before firing past Antell at his near post. It was Walsh’s first Buddies goal and the increased lead was the least the hosts deserved. The third arrived moments later, although City were far from happy about it. With Mark McConnell lying injured inside the six yard box, the officials allowed play to continue and while Antell did well to save Shankland’s shot, he could do nothing to stop Jack Baird smashing home the rebound. The City players and coaching staff were furious as play hadn’t been stopped, continuing to protest as McConnell finally received treatment.
While the game was as good as over as a contest, Saints needed to keep firing in the goals. Clarkson should perhaps have added the fourth but snatched at the chance and Antell saved before Shankland had a penalty appeal turned down after a collision with Gordon Donaldson. As the half came to a close Andy Webster almost opened his Saints account, his header from a corner being cleared off the line, before Jason Naismith sent a shot over the bar.
Half-Time: St Mirren 3-0 Edinburgh City
The hunt for more goals continued after the break, Antell making a bit of a mess of a Walsh shot as he tried to save it, Clarkson then seeing his effort from the corner deflected behind. City had barely threatened but almost pulled one back before the hour mark, the ball dropping nicely for Ross Allum but he volleyed over. When City next attacked the striker pulled a muscle as he chased the ball and had to go off, Ross Guthrie replacing him at a Saints corner that Webster headed wide.
Hardie was handed his debut after an hour at the expense of Clarkson, the visitors responding by putting John Dunn on for Beattie. The chances weren’t coming as regularly for Saints and Sutton replaced Shankland midway through the half before Walsh was replaced by Gallagher. It meant an all new strike force, Hardie going close to scoring when he turned and shot from the edge of the box only for his effort to go wide.
The young forward went closer moments later as he saw a shot cleared off the line, although it lacked enough power to cause too many heart stopping moments in the City defence. Saints were beginning to exert a bit of pressure again, City replacing Dean Cummings with John MacDonald to try to steady the ship, before Saints almost bagged that vital fourth. Morgan’s cutback found Sutton and his shot looked good only for Antell to block with his legs. It was as close as Alex Rae’s side came to scoring the required fourth and now the focus turns to next week’s Renfrewshire derby with Morton.
Full-Time: St Mirren 3-0 Edinburgh City
St Mirren: Gallacher, Naismith, Stewart, Webster, Baird, Walsh (Gallagher 70), Mallan, Hutton, Morgan, Clarkson (Hardie 60), Shankland (Sutton 68).
Subs Not Used: Gordon, McAllister, McDonald, Langfield (GK).
Edinburgh City: Antell, Caddow, Gibson, Mbu, Martyniuk, Donaldson, Cummings (MacDonald 80), Mushin, Allum (Guthrie 58), Beattie (Dunn 62), McConnell.
Subs Not Used: Harrison, Donaldson, Stobie (GK).
Referee: Steven Kirkland.
Assistant Referee: Andy Milne.
Assistant Referee: Andy Taylor.
Attendance: 1,800
Star Saint: Lewis Morgan.

Match report and match gallery pictures by Allan Picken – © Allan Picken Photography.

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