Edinburgh City moved into third position in the Central Taxis Premier Division with a 4-0 win against Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale in what is rapidly becoming a fascinating battle to avoid relegation for the nine teams below the top three.
The scoreline slightly flattered City and the winning margin was, in no small measure, due to the sending-off in the first half of Lothian defender Connan McDiarmid for violent conduct after a clash with City’s Nico Gibson.
City took the lead after 15 minutes when Robbie Ross beat the offside trap, rounded Kevin Swain and slipped the ball into the unguarded net. Lloyd Dignan should have equalised, but his first touch let him down in front of goal.
Five minutes before half-time McDiarmid was red-carded although, to be fair to Lothian with only ten men, they created the majority of the chances with Craig Stevenson, Calum Connolly, Dignan and a trialist all passing up exceptional opportunities.
Andy Howat set up Ross to score his second goal before City were awarded a penalty when Howat tumbled in the area. Dougie Gair slammed the ball home and the same player notched his second shortly afterwards to make it 4-0.
Gary Jardine, the City manager, said: “That was a massive three points and I have always maintained that we need 22 points to be safe and that is now us on 21. It was not pretty, but our objective was to get a win in what turned out to be an even game which was end-to-end.”
Grant Carnie, the Lothian boss, said: “City are now officially our bogey team. We were the better team in the opening 25 minutes and then I felt that both players should have been sent off in the incident where Connan was dismissed. Then City got a penalty which, for me, was not a penalty. We were then chasing the game although we had loads of chances including at least five sitters. We had them on the back foot and City just shelled the ball forward.”
Leith Athletic are third in the First Division after beating Ormiston 2-1. Conor Ramage gave the East Lothian team the lead before Craig Hume won a penalty which he converted, then Kenny Hall scored the winner with a left-foot shot into the bottom corner.
Craigroyston were held to a 1-1 draw by Easthouses Lily. Craig Anderson gave Craigroyston a first-half lead and they looked like picking up all three points until Jason Young equalised in the 89th minute. Craigroyston’s Errol Douglas then saw Brian Young pulling off a superb save of his penalty.
Gretna 2008 lifted the East of Scotland City Cup with a 4-2 victory against SFL Third Division side Berwick Rangers at Raydale Park.