Confidence building at Edinburgh City after eighth win from nine
How many times will Edinburgh City striker Blair Henderson continue to grab the headlines this season?
The 24-year-old talisman has been in sensational goalscoring form of late and that theme continued against Berwick Rangers on Saturday when his double in the second half helped the Citizens win 3-0 and make it eight wins from nine league games.
The SPFL League Two pacesetters are showing very few frailties as they continue on an upward trajectory in only their third season in Senior football.
“Why change a winning team?” City boss James McDonaugh beamed afterwards as his side rounded off the first quarter of the campaign with 24 points from a possible 27.
“I’m really proud just now of this group of players because they’re the ones winning games and giving everything they’ve got. We know this run isn’t going to last forever but the club has really kicked on this season.
“There have been times over the past few weeks when I was perhaps tempted to make a change here or there to freshen things up, but it’s very difficult when you’re continually winning. These players are meriting their place in the team and I’ve stuck by them, so it’s hard to change things when they keep producing.
“We’ve got experienced guys like Keiran Stewart and Allan Smith on the bench who can impact games along with young Calum Hall and Adam Watson who we got on loan from Livingston.
“It’s been difficult for these boys to force their way into the line-up, but it’s a collective team effort. The confidence amongst the squad is growing week by week.”
The Ladbrokes Manager of the Month, who received his first ever award for the month of September, named the same unchanged starting XI for the fourth week running against a Wee Gers side that had suffered three straight defeats and lost seven of their last eight fixtures.
The Borderers arrived at Ainslie Park low on confidence and desperate to ignite their season, but the early signs were far from promising.
Blair Henderson created the first real opening after seven minutes, but his lobbed effort flew over the crossbar on to the roof of keeper Sean Brennan’s net. The marksman then had a goal disallowed after 25 minutes when referee Gavin Ross spotted an infringement in the build-up.
However, that did little to affect the men in black and white and they found the breakthrough just a few passages of play later. Experienced midfielder Marc Laird galloped forward and dispatched a low shot past Brennan from 12 yards out.
Paul Willis briefly threatened for Berwick, but the small travelling contingent had little to cheer during the first half. And their misery was compounded three minutes into the second period in controversial circumstances. Henderson was again at the forefront of the action as he smashed home his 12th goal of an already memorable campaign, but the visitors were left furious when Jamie Todd went down injured in the lead up to the goal and was later carried off on a stretcher.
The Berwick management team were livid that the goal stood, none more so than shot-stopper Brennan who picked up a yellow card for his protestat.
Henderson rubbed salt into the wounds when he notched his second of the match from the penalty spot with 20 minutes remaining – his fourth conversion from the spot this term.
He was denied a hat-trick when substituted moments later, with Allan Smith coming on as his replacement.
On-loan Dundee youngster Cedwyn Scott went close to pulling a consolation back for the beleaguered visitors, but the damage had been done as they dropped to second-bottom of the table.
A fourth defeat on the bounce led to the resignation of Berwick manager Robbie Horn, which was later accepted by the club. In an emotional post-match interview, he stated: “I’ve done all I can for the club. It’s been affecting my health and making me ill so I’m taking the decision to stand down.”
Edinburgh City: Antell, Thomson, McIntyre, Black, Balatoni, Laird, B Henderson (Smith 74), Handling, Taylor (Watson 68), Shepherd (Hall 80), L Henderson. Subs: Morton, Rodger, Stewart, Lumsden.
Berwick Rangers: Brennan, O’Kane, Wilson, Todd (Cook 50), Willis, Phillips, McIlduff, Scott, Healy (Neill 74), Hurst, Brown (Hamilton 52). Subs: Dabrowski, Orru, Murrell, Ogilvie.
Referee: Gavin Ross.