From the high of last Saturday’s late winner against Arbroath, Edinburgh City were brought crashing to earth with a 2-1 defeat in the East of Scotland Cup final at the hands of Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale.
The focus now shifts back to league duty and the visit of Annan Athletic. Should Cowdenbeath lose at home to a no-doubt still smarting Arbroath, a win would guarantee City’s SPFL League Two status for another season.
To do so, improvement will be required. While survival is clearly City’s priority, Wednesday was still an opportunity to lift silverware that wasn’t taken. Ross Guthrie, who came off the bench at Gayfield and started the final, admitted that those Gary Jardine brought in didn’t do nearly enough to justify the eight changes made to the team.
“It was a massive disappointment to be honest,” said Guthrie of the cup defeat. “There were a few boys that got a run out that hadn’t been playing and we let ourselves down massively. I think we started off the better team and probably should have killed them off, but second half we didn’t even look like we wanted it.
“The gaffer said at half-time, we looked like we were being forced to play that game more than anything so it was hugely disappointing, especially off the back of such a massive result last Saturday. Coming in to this week off the back of that, confidence was high. There were a fair few changes so I don’t know whether that didn’t help on Wednesday, but it’s just a rubbish result for us.”
It’s one that Guthrie and his team-mates need to put behind them now with survival within touching distance. Ryan Porteous’ stoppage time winner in Angus six days ago was celebrated wildly, but the true significance in terms of City’s position only really sank in afterwards. “In the moment, you just sort of take it as it comes, but it was an absolutely huge goal,” Guthrie reflected. “We were on the end of one the previous week against Cowden, so it’s swings and roundabouts.
“I knew the scores in the other games before I went on. I didn’t actually say anything to the boys on the park so I don’t know if they knew. We knew Cowden had went up early and I knew Clyde had come back before I went on, so I knew how important that goal was. The other teams were probably thinking it’s Arbroath away, we probably aren’t going to pick up anything, but it’s the second time we’ve gone up there and turned them over 1-0. We need to take that in to Saturday now.”
That would also involve replicating results from earlier in the season. A 1-0 win over Annan has already been achieved at Meadowbank [again thanks to a late Porteous goal], although being one of just three home wins all season, Guthrie isn’t taking anything for granted against the promotion play-off hopefuls. “I actually think we’re better away from home,” he admitted. “The Meadowbank pitch is a hindrance in itself, but I suppose it is home advantage. We’ve beaten them already this season so hopefully we can repeat that.
“They’re right up the top of the table and have had a great season to be fair. They’ll come here full of confidence with something to play for so it’s as big a game for them as it is for us. It’s in our hands though – if we keep getting the wins then we won’t need to look below us anymore and we’ll be trying to finish as high up the league as possible.”
The step-up to league football has seen a big increase in City’s support at the old Commonwealth Stadium this season. With just two games remaining before becoming Spartans’ lodgers at Ainslie Park for three years, Guthrie is hoping for another bumper crowd, with neighbours Hibs on Scottish Cup semi-final duty in Glasgow. “Hibs is the early game Saturday so hopefully a few of them will come along from Hampden afterwards – depending on the result! As many people in as we can would be a massive help. Every game we go in to, the next game is the biggest game of the season, so Saturday’s is now.”