Edinburgh City 1, Motherwell 2: Late Frear goal sinks hosts
Edinburgh City boss Gary Jardine genuinely believed his side could have held on for a famous win over Motherwell before two late goals gave the Lanarkshire club the points in last night's Betfred Cup Group F tie at Ainslie Park.
Ashley Grimes’ second-half strike looked to have City on their way to a stunning result, but a Chris Cadden equaliser soon after and Elliot Frear’s late winner rescued the Premiership side.
“I said to the boys when they arrived, don’t for a minute think this is damage limitation,” said Jardine. “Every time you set up a team, you’re looking to play to a strength and then win the game. It went to plan, although we’d have liked to have conceded a few less chances.
“We knew the longer it went on Motherwell would send more and more bodies forward and leave us one-on-one. Ashley did what we brought him to the club to do – he was composed, used his experience and it was a cool finish.
“After that I didn’t see us losing it. I felt we were comfortable when the crosses came in – we got our spaces right and our lines right with Harrison and Verlaque, but once the equaliser went in I was looking at the watch, to be fair.”
The Steelmen should have opened the scoring on ten minutes when Frear went down the left and stood the ball up for Alex Fisher, but the big striker planted his header straight in to the arms of Calum Antell.
Frear was having plenty joy down the left, and his next cross found Andrew Rose, but he sclaffed his first-time shot, allowing Antell to gather.
Yet again, Frear worked himself some space on the left before delivering for Fisher, and again the striker connected but couldn’t get his glancing header on target.
City’s first direct shot on goal came via captain Josh Walker, who found the ball back at his feet after his initial free-kick was cleared. A clever turn inside two defenders created the space, but his right-foot drive was always rising and didn’t trouble Trevor Carson.
Frear then threatened himself after going past Jordan Caddow, but his initial effort was blocked by Antell before the keeper stood up and caught the winger’s attempted follow-up lob.
Recent Hearts target Cadden was introduced for Motherwell at half-time, and he almost brought about an opener immediately, ghosting between two men and firing across goal, although none of his teammates were able to convert.
Grimes hadn’t had much of a sight of goal, and got too much on his attempted lob when Craig Thomson found him with a long diagonal.
Fisher finally managed to get a header on target, this time after a delivery from the right. The majority inside Ainslie Park were preparing to celebrate before Antell produced a fine stop to keep the looping header out.
The visitors appeared to be running out of ideas, and City took advantage with just under 20 minutes to go. Walker sent a defence-splitting ball through for Grimes and the striker raced clear of the chasing defenders and slotted past Carson.
The lead didn’t last long however, as a Fisher flick-on found Cadden in space at the back post, and he placed a shot across Antell into the corner.
The hosts were cruelly denied a point, and the chance of a bonus point, when, with stoppage time looming, Frear tapped in at the back post after Cadden’s low ball had evaded Antell. City had a bench full of under-20 players due to injuries, and Jardine may have to name similar against Morton on Saturday. “I’m not so sure any of the guys will be back,” he said. “Chris McKee could be out long term, Zdravko [Karadachki] was injured last Saturday and is out for six weeks and John Dunn has to rest for three weeks.
“That’s where we’re maybe hampered in the League Cup. As it goes on, the part-time teams become weaker and the full-time teams are bringing players in all the time.
Edinburgh City: Antell, Caddow, Harrison, Walker, Laird, Thomson, Grimes (Glackin 71), Olanrewaju (McClung 60), Verlaque, Mackie, Allan (Beattie 84).
Motherwell: Carson, McManus, McHugh, Frear, Bowman (Tanner 45), Rose (Bigirmana 71), Fisher, Dunne, Kipre, McMillan, McLean (Cadden 45).
Referee: Gavin Duncan.