Elgin City lose yet another stoppage time winner against Stenhousemuir
ANOTHER week, another stoppage time goal to bring Elgin City down.
The Black and Whites battled back from 2-0 down at home to Stenhousemuir to level the game, chase a winner then concede instead right at the death.
City have now leaked at least a dozen points this term from losing goals in time added on, and it’s becoming increasingly frustrating for assistant manager Keith Gibson.
“We gave the boys the incentive of going into fourth place and the play-off positions tonight if we won and results went our way,” he said.
“It was hard to take losing another game right at the very end.
“The only positive we can take is that we are in the same position as we were before the game, two points off fourth place.
“We still have huge belief in this squad that we can reach the play-offs. But we need to be more consistent and we need to learn how to win ugly because we can’t seem to do that and other teams do.”
Manager Gavin Price named an unchanged starting line-up from the one which won 4-0 at Annan a week earlier.
Dundee United loan signing Ross Graham was named among the substitutes.
Whatever Elgin’s game plan was it went out of the window in the first minute of the game as they conceded the opening goal.
Greig Spence stole in behind the home defence and promptly rattled a shot high past Tom McHale.
City tried to hit back quickly and a fast run down the left by Conor O’Keefe created an opening for Shane Sutherland but from a tight angle his shot scraped by the far post.
Sutherland had another effort deflected past as the home side put on the pressure.
The Caley Thistle-bound Elgin striker had another chance on 26 minutes when Rabin Omar and Russell Dingwall combined to set him up but he could only fire into the side netting.
It got worse for the home side on 37 minutes when McHale performed heroics to keep out efforts by Ryan Blair and Mark McGuigan but could do nothing to stop McGuigan’s follow-up from finding the roof of the net.
Hester was inches away from connecting with a good Omar ball across goal in the early moments of the second half.
But Elgin survived a scare when David Hopkirk sent a close range header over the bar.
On the hour a superb run by O’Keefe led to a cutback which Omar rifled goalwards but keeper Graeme Smith dived to save and also parried when O’Keefe fired the loose ball to the near post.
Price brought on Smart Osadolor for his home debut in place of Omar, and the striker soon made a difference.
Twice he sent Hester through on goal with Smith saving the first and Hester dragging a left foot shot wide with the second.
The introduction of winger Daniel MacKay for Caley Thistle team-mate Cameron Harper saw City switch to a 3-4-3 formation with little to lose.
With 12 minutes City were thrown a lifeline when sub MacKay’s speculative effort took a deflection and looped past Smith into the net.
The atmosphere changed, and when Elgin were controversially awarded a corner two minutes later, after Sutherland had been flagged offside, they took full advantage.
Centre back Stephen Bronsky seized upon a poor clearance to guide the ball into the net and level the scores.
With ten minutes still left Elgin fans sensed their team could now win it, but instead they pulled defeat from the jaws of victory.
In the first minute of stoppages, a ball into the penalty area was headed down by sub Connor McBride and Spence was in splendid isolation to sweep it home for the winner.
Elgin are away to Stirling Albion next weekend.
Elgin: McHale; MacEwan, Cooper, Bronsky, Harper (MacKay 72); Omar (Osadolor 61), Cameron, Dingwall (Graham 46), O’Keefe; Hester, Sutherland.
Subs: Sopel, Wilson, Hay, Kelly
Stenny: Smith; Tiffoney, Munro, Wilson, McLaughlin; Hopkirk, McBrearty (McBride 86), Blair, Moore; Spence, McGuigan (Biabi 74).
Subs: Armstrong, Halleran, Watters, Marley.
Ref: Chris Fordyce