Dougie Gair: I may have big Edinburgh City call to make

Edinburgh City captain settled any nerves when he scored to put the tie out of Cove Rangers reach. Pic: Jane Barlow
Edinburgh City captain settled any nerves when he scored to put the tie out of Cove Rangers reach. Pic: Jane Barlow
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Edinburgh City captain Dougie Gair admits he’ll have a decision to make over his future should they overcome East Stirlingshire in the SPFL Pyramid play-off final.

Gair’s first-half strike in Saturday’s 1-1 semi-final second leg draw with Cove Rangers at Meadowbank pretty much guaranteed the Capital club a crack at promotion to League Two following a 3-0 victory in Inverurie in the first leg. Jamie Watt’s late consolation for the visitors was of little consequence.

With a marriage and a potential new life in Dubai an option for the personal trainer, the long-serving midfielder may have a choice to make between the Arabian peninsula and Annan next season. “That’s in the pipeline,” said Gair. “I’ve been out there a couple of times and I love it out there. With my job and my partner’s job it’d be ideal to get out there. My missus is a teacher as well so there’s no problem going out there and getting jobs and we just fancy doing something different.”

The carrot of League football is something Gair admits could keep him in a black-and-white shirt, although fiancée Frances, who he’s due to marry this summer, may have something to say about it. “I don’t think I’m in charge of that decision!” he laughed. “Dubai’s not immediate – it’s something that we’re going to do at some point but it might be a heated discussion! I’ve been here for a very long time – going to the same grounds and seeing the sam people week in, week out but if we go up it would be hard to turn down. We’ll see what happens. It could be a fairytale ending and the ultimate aim is getting promoted as a team. We’ve been a team all year and we want to do it together.”

The only approach Cove could take given the first leg result was a positive one. Grant Campbell was first to register an attempt for the Highland League champions, Amos just managing to palm away his dipping strike. City responded with a John MacDonald effort from a similar distance, but the diminutive midfielder dragged it well wide.

Any hopes of an improbable Cove comeback were extinguished when City put the tie beyond doubt just after the half hour mark. A long ball forward wasn’t dealt with by Darren Kelly, who clumsily attempted to usher it back to John McCafferty. That gave Gair all the encouragement he needed to chase his own ball, and got there ahead of the onrushing keeper and lobbed it deftly over him in to the net.

Cove replaced top scorer Daryl Nicol with Connor Scully at half time. The substitute had the ball in the net five minutes after the break, although the fact that he did so by bodychecking City keeper Gregor Amos meant ref Colin Steven was never going to let it stand.

Ross Allum should have made it 2-0 after the break when Gair’s searching ball over the top put him clean through, but McCafferty stood up well to block his close range volley.

Amos wasn’t as untroubled as he was in the previous encounter, and was required to display some sharp reflexes to keep out Jonathan Smith’s effort from point blank range.

The game understandably 
petered out with City coasting, but Cove did manage a consolation when Sam Burnett’s miss-hit shot looped up at the back post and substitute Watt nodded it past Amos from close range.

City boss Gary Jardine couldn’t speak highly enough of his captain and hopes he’ll stay on regardless of what league they play in next season. “He’s been a man for the big goals since he joined the club as a teenager,” he said. “His spell at the club’s been fantastic – as man and boy he’s been here 16-17 years so it’ll be a big blow when he decides to hang his boots up.

“He’s away for the whole of July for his wedding and other events. I think he’ll miss it. I’m hoping he’ll miss it and come back refreshed. If he does decide to hang them up he’ll certainly join the coaching staff.”

Edinburgh City: Amos, Dunsmore (Caddow 55), G Donaldson (Guthrie 59), McConnell, Paterson, Mbu, Harrison, Gair, Allum (Vanson 77), Dunn, MacDonald.

Cover Rangers: McCafferty, Redford, Laurie, Yule, Watson (D Donaldson), Kelly, Burnett, Campbell, Nicol (Scully 45), Smith, Milne (Watt 71).