Edinburgh City happy to stop rot but third place yet to be secured
Edinburgh City failed to wrap up third place in Ladbrokes League Two after a 1-1 draw with Elgin City at Ainslie Park.
Josh Walker’s sumptuous first-half free kick had the Citizens on course to face either Clyde or Peterhead in next Tuesday’s promotion play-off first leg. However, a late equaliser, and first touch, from substitute Owen Loveland ensured City still require a point from this weekend’s visit to Stirling Albion to confirm a top-three finish.
Fourth-placed Annan – who hold a superior goal difference – are just three points adrift and could still overhaul the Capital side should they defeat Albion Rovers and City slip up at Forthbank.
Were City to finish fourth, they would face the ninth-placed side in League One, either Brechin or Stenhousemuir.
The League Two title will also be decided on the final day with Peterhead in the driving seat two points ahead of Clyde.
Asked if he had a preference as to who his side will play, manager James McDonaugh said: “We’d rather finish third but we still don’t know who we’d face with the title still to be decided. I think Peterhead will wrap it up on Saturday. We’ve had a good season but credit where it’s due because Clyde and Annan have been sensational too. It’s disappointing the league hasn’t been more in the spotlight because it’s been a really good battle all season, so it’s just a shame only one goes up automatically.”
McDonaugh was pleased his players put a stop to three consecutive defeats and believes goalscorer Walker, who scored in the 25th minute, could be pivotal to the club’s chances of promotion.
“We’ve put a stop to the defeats so that’s a positive,” he said. “We played so well in the first half and football that I thought was unrecognisable in League Two. Our passing and movement was superb and the build-up to our play was really pleasing. But on the other side of it is we’ve failed to win. We dropped off a level in the second half and we didn’t defend the last five minutes and we’ve paid the price as we lost the equaliser from a corner kick. It’s always the case that 1-0 is such a precarious lead so we needed that second goal.
“There were some really good individual performances. In fairness to Josh my expectations of him are very high but he’s been out for such a long period earlier in the season. I can see his qualities and that’s something we’re going to need.”
With City unable to add to their lead, the visitors sensed an opportunity and they duly obliged with three minutes remaining when Loveland stabbed home a loose ball from a couple of yards.
“We haven’t become bad players and team overnight,” 30-year-old Walker noted afterwards. “Football is a confidence game and when things are going well it’s the easiest game in the world. When things are against you that’s when you need people to stand up.
“I’d rather finish third because that shows you’re the third best team in the league. We’ve beaten both Clyde and Peterhead this season so we know we can do it again if that is who we end up playing. We’re in the play-offs no matter what so it doesn’t make any difference who we face. It’s just about believing in ourselves.”
Edinburgh City: Antell, McIntyre, Balatoni, Laird, Walker, Taylor (Newman 79), Rodger, Donaldson, Watson, Diver (B Henderson 81), Galbraith (Shepherd 79). Subs: Morton, Neave, Lumsden, Shepherd, Shaw.
Elgin City: Gourlay, Lowdon, McHardy, Bronsky, Wilson, Scott (Hester 46), Roberts (Sutherland 89), Morrison, MacIver, Cameron, McLeish (Loveland 87). Subs: Watson, McGowan, Willis.
Referee: Chris Graham