With Joe Cook suspended following last weekend’s red card at Chesterfield, Dan Gallagher dropped into the back three to play on the left side of defence, Aaron Kuhl therefore coming into the starting line up in the deeper lying role in midfield to make his first start of the season. The other change to the starting line up saw Seb Bowerman come in for Bobby-Joe Taylor out wide.
In a steadily paced, even start, both sides took time warming to the game, Gallagher and Fuller having to be alert to clear early high crosses before the first effort on goal arrived just after the 10 minute mark; Kuhl smashing the outside of the post from Prior’s roll-back after good work from Fuller overlapping down the right. Male was then quickly called into action up the other end, getting an outstretched hand to Reece Smith’s cross/shot from the right after he battled well to get beyond Gallagher. Wanderers were often retaining possession too deep throughout the opening forty-five, and against good organisation and pressing, it was The Magpies who were able to apply pressure and force openings in the final third. Shawn McCoulsky spurned an excellent chance to break the deadlock capitalising on a loose ball from McShane and advancing through on goal, the striker could only blaze his eventual strike over the bar though. An even better opportunity would arrive just before half-time; Jayden Mitchell-Lawson intercepting Craig’s pass and squaring for McCoulsky, who couldn’t get over his effort properly from close range and wound up lifting his strike off target.
In a bid to go more direct, Wanderers introduced Harry Ottaway at the interval, but as both teams looked to force long balls after the restart it was Alan Devonshire’s team who continued to carve out the better chances, including Smith being pushed to a wide angle and slamming a shot into the side-netting.
The opening goal came just past the hour; McCoulsky latching onto a through ball sent into the left channel and shifting inside before calmly steering a strike beyond Male to find the far right side of the net. Magpies full back Zico Asare was dismissed into the final quarter of an hour of the contest after receiving a second yellow card for a late challenge near the corner flag, but despite the extra man advantage and taking a stronger grip of possession, Wanderers were still unable to offer much threat, uncharacteristically sluggish in passing the ball forward and relinquishing possession, and lacking quality with the end product once reaching the final third. Ottaway’s instinctive low effort cannoning back off the post would be as close as Wanderers would go into the late stages, the striker doing well to hit a loose ball first time from the edge of the box. Into added on time Ashley Nathaniel-George wrapped up the first win of the campaign for the visiting side, gathering substitute Casey Pettit’s rebounded effort off the post, cutting onto his left foot, and driving a low strike into the bottom corner of goal.
Undoubtedly a bitterly disappointing afternoon after such a good performance at Chesterfield on the opening day, Wanderers will have a quick opportunity to bounce back from consecutive defeats and get their first points on the board this Tuesday night as Southend United are the visitors to Meadowbank in a 7:45pm kick off.