Craig Livingstone has taken to management in the same way he still eases past defenders while playing.
Promotion to Division B and a Sanderson Cup win in his first season in charge of the reformed Gordon FC has been followed up this season by a Wright Cup victory and a highly-creditable run to the fifth round of the Scottish Amateur Cup.
But Livingstone and his side suffered arguably their first major setback with defeat in the South Cup quarter-finals to A Division team Stow on Saturday. And the player-manager was in no mood to make excuses at full-time.
“That was the worst we have played since I took over as manager,” he told The Southern.
“We never battled or put up a fight, which is what we normally do from the first minute.
Despite being a league below Stow, Gordon were in confident mood of advancing to the semi-finals on home turf.
In horse-racing terms, the pitch was soft to heavy, so it is testament to both sides that they managed to produce an entertaining first half. Plenty passing football was played and chances created at either end, with Stow’s midfield trio of player-manager Paul Young, Billy Miller and James Runciman combining well.
Young and Runciman set up Jordan Steele for the first chance on 10 minutes, but Steele fired just over.
Gordon struck back when Gavin Brown’s curling shot was well saved by Stow stopper Tom Kerr and a minute later Brian Tait’s header struck Kerr’s crossbar.
But it was Stow who took the lead on the half-hour with a goal of real quality as Bruce Hunter’s sweetly-struck, left-foot volley from 20 yards flew past the helpless Gordon goalie Chris Anderson.
Anderson denied Young and Steele before half-time and Miller somehow missed a header from just six yards out as Stow attempted to kill off the cup tie.
The second half was not the same standard as the first, with fewer efforts on goal as the players began to tire.
The vital second goal of the game went to Stow with 11 minutes to go as Hunter did well to get to the byline and cross for Steele to guide the ball in. Despite a late header from Gordon’s Kevin Utterson, Stow held out to keep alive their South Cup dream.
Stow boss Young said: “It is a great win. We are still in three cup competitions, but it is the South Cup that is the big one and we want to win it for the first time ever.”