Edinburgh City boss Gary Jardine cut a conflicted figure after his team were pegged back with just a minute to go in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Montrose.
Josh Walker’s stunning first goal for the club gave City a half-time lead from a highly impressive first 45, but Montrose snatched a point at the death via Cammy Ballantyne’s header.
Jardine felt his team should have had the game won, but acknowledged Montrose probably got what they deserved given how the second half panned out. “It’s a sickener,” he said. “This will sound like a massive contradiction, but I think we’ve thrown two points away while at the same time, Montrose deserved a point.
“You see it a lot when teams aren’t on a great run, they want to protect what they’ve got. Montrose put us under a lot pressure with a lot of balls into the box and that’s where we’re looking to stand up and be counted. The players did great, but we’re missing Ryan Porteous and Joe Mbu, who love heading the ball.
“The first half is exactly how I want Edinburgh City to play and it’s how we played last week without getting the goal. In the second half we didn’t want to sit off, but we got deeper and deeper to protect what we had and we didn’t press as well or high as we did in the first.”
City should have gone ahead when Lewis Allan beat the offside trap after latching on to John Dunn’s through ball. He showed good strength to hold off his man, but Jordan Miller stood up well to save his low effort with his foot. Dunn followed up, but blazed the rebound over.
Jardine’s men were playing well, and their reward came just after the half-hour mark. Ross Guthrie’s shot was blocked before coming back to him. He showed good awareness to tee up Walker, who displayed fantastic technique to find the top corner from the edge of the D.
It took Montrose until a minute before half-time to register their first attempt. Michael Bolochoweckyj met Graham Webster’s cross, but Andrew Stobie was able to hold after what had been a quiet 45 for the keeper.
The Gable Endies came out with more purpose after the restart, but a succession of crosses and set-pieces caused little for Stobie to be alarmed about as the game moved in to the last 20.
Stobie prevented a certain leveller with five to go. Substitute Chris Templeman’s bullet header from Liam Callaghan’s corner looked goal-bound, but Stobie showed great reactions to spring to his left and palm away.
He could do nothing to prevent Montrose’s aerial pressure from paying off just over a minute from time. Another Callaghan corner was met by Ballantyne, who got across his man to send a glancing header in at the back post.
Montrose boss Stewart Petrie said: “It’s a game of two halves. Edinburgh fully deserved the lead at half-time, they were well ahead and if they’d come in 2-0 up it wouldn’t have been an injustice.
“There was a few choice words at half-time and the boys responded well second half.
“This is a hard place to come. No team’s come here and found it easy and we didn’t at all, but first half we were below par.”
He also hailed the impact of Templeman. “He’s a big handful, isn’t he? He takes you up the park and causes issues for defenders due to his height and his ability. He’s great with the ball at his feet as well.”
Edinburgh City: Stobie, Dunsmore, L Allan (McFarland 78), Harrison, Walker, McKee, Guthrie (McConnell 65), Gair, Laird (Cummings 86), Dunn, Caddow.
Montrose: Miller, Ballantyne, Steeves, M Allan (Templman 53), Pascazio (Hay 78), Bolochoweckyj, Webster (Ferguson 72), Masson, Fraser, Smith, Callaghan.
Referee: G Duncan.