ELGIN City boss Barry Wilson slammed his team’s second half collapse in the Petrofac Training Cup defeat against Stirling Albion.
City were the better team in the first half of Saturday’s Borough Briggs season opener but slumped to a 3-0 loss after a limp second period performance.
Former Inverness defender Matthew Cooper was sent off on his debut to complete an afternoon of woe for the Black and Whites.
“There’s no doubt we were the better team in the first half,” Barry said. “We played some good football and created some great chances.
“But then as soon as they scored the first goal we just totally chucked in the towel. I’ve left them in no uncertain terms that that’s not acceptable.”
One plus point for Elgin was the return from injury of key midfielder Brian Cameron, who came on as a second half substitute.
The Moray men made a good start and should have scored after just 90 seconds. Craig Gunn’s cute back heel gave Shane Sutherland a clear shot on goal but with the target at his mercy he fired wide of the post.
Sutherland then hit the bar with a deflected effort, while both Gunn and Sutherland were denied by good saves and Gunn also had a strike disallowed for offside.
League 1 Stirling, who were promoted through the play-offs last season, took the elad against the run of play just two minutes after the break.
Darren L. Smith met an Elgin clearance on the volley 20 yards out and his brilliant strike left Elgin keeper Michae Fraser rooted to the spot as it roared into the top corner.
City heads began to droop and within ten minutes scorer Smith broke to the edge of the box where he was brought down by a Cooper tackle.
Referee Nick Walsh pointed to the spot and sent the Elgin defender off, before Gordon Smith rattled the penalty high into the net.
Wilson brought on 17-year-old centre back Rory Cooke for his debut, and later introduced Cameron as a sub for his first outing in nine months.
Gordon Smith tapped in a third for the visitors, before Cameron fired just wide for Elgin after a strong run past his marker.
“As soon as that first goal went in, the body language was not good enough,” Wilson fumed. “The appetite and the hunger was not what it should be for one of my teams anyway.”
The City boss must now wait and see when Cooper serves his automatic ban, either in Tuesday night’s North of Scotland Cup tie against Strathspey Thistle or next weekend’s League Cup trip to Queen of the South.
Elgin: Fraser, Beveridge, Finlayson (Cooke 66), Cooper, Nicolson, McLean, Gunn, Macphee, MacKenzie (Cameron 73), Sutherland (Bayne 66), Moore. Subs: McHardy, Wood, Murray, Black.
Don’t miss Friday’s Northern Scot for more Elgin news and reaction from teenager Rory Cooke to his first team debut.