Edinburgh City 2, Berwick Rangers 2: Riordan and Gair secure precious point

Edinburgh City almost came from behind to claim all three points in successive games, but a late equaliser meant they had to settle for a 2-2 draw with Berwick Rangers at Meadowbank.

Wednesday, 15th March 2017, 8:49 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 10:22 am
Derek Riordan celebrates with Marc Laird having scored Edinburgh City's equalise. Picture: Neil Hanna Photography www.neilhannaphotography.co.uk

Greg Rutherford gave the Shielfield side a half-time lead, before Derek Riordan’s second in two games squared things up. Dougie Gair then edged City in front only for Steven Thomson to restore parity late on.

City manager Dougie Jardine said: “A draw was probably fair. It was a scrappy game with either team desperate to not get beat. Myself and John [Coughlin] were both trying to get the three points that would take us away from the bottom but I’m certainly content with a point, especially after the first half.

“Coming from behind, which we’ve done in the last three games, albeit we only got a draw from this one, shows the character. We’ve worked really hard to get where we are and we’re not going to give it up lightly.

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“We probably tried to play too much football in the first half and we got caught with Berwick coming out to try and make amends for the weekend and played with real intensity, closing down all over the park and we found it difficult to find space.

“Derek, in getting him in we know what he’s got. As the weeks go by he’s going to get sharper and hopefully can get another few.”

Berwick boss Coughlin said: “When you come away from home at this stage of the season and take a point, you’ve got to be happy. It keeps Edinburgh below us and the teams below them the same distance below us and it’s another game away. We’re ticking the games off and you just hope you can go and take points away from home and win your home games.

“I thought it was a good reaction after Saturday’s defeat to Cowdenbeath so it’s game on now.”

Sean Brennan was forced into his first save within two minutes as Riordan threatened to pick up where he left off at the weekend with a low free-kick that was tipped wide. Andrew Stobie’s first involvement was more straightforward when Thomson fired straight at the City keeper after bursting into the area.

Aaron Dunsmore should have opened the scoring on his return from suspension. Lewis Allan’s chip down the line put him in behind before driving into the box on to his left foot. The Hibs loanee could only put his effort straight at Brennan however, who blocked.

The visitors upped the tempo and deservedly went ahead just after the half hour mark. Former Spartans striker Aaron Murrell, himself on-loan from Dundee Utd, teed up strike partner Rutherford, who drilled a low strike in to the bottom corner from the edge of the area.

The hosts looked to have a fairly decent claim for a penalty soon after when Marc Laird appeared to be shoved over as he ran on to a Gair cut-back, but referee Grant Irvine wasn’t interested.

Shots from distance were becoming a theme for City. First Riordan sent a volley over before Josh Walker’s left foot strike landed just the right side of the crossbar from Brennan’s point of view.

John Coughlin’s men began the second half on the front foot, and Rutherford maybe should have done better with his free-header, but couldn’t keep it down.

City’s response was immediate and telling. Craig Beattie’s standing ball to the back post took a nick off a Berwick head, and Riordan was on hand to send a diving header into the bottom corner from close range.

As was the case at the weekend, a Riordan equaliser was followed by another City goal, albeit significantly earlier on this occasion. David Verlanque looked to have Laird’s linked ball into the six yard box under control, but was unable to clear under pressure from Gair, who was able to stab home around two yards from the goal-line.

The hosts’ tails were up, and Allan was keen to further add to the sense of deja vu from the previous game. As he did for the winner at Station Park, he drifted inside before letting fly with his right, only for a deflection to take the ball in to Brennan’s arms.

Berwick weren’t for accepting a similar result however, and were level with ten minutes left. City failed to clear their lines properly for a corner, and Thomson collected a pass to feet before drilling low through Stobie’s legs.

Muriel spurned a late chance to win it for the Wee Rangers after a Gordon Donaldson slip allowed Rutherford in down the right. His centre picked out his fellow striker, but his touch was heavy and allowed Stobie to gather.

City were again asking for a penalty in stoppage time when Allan claimed he had been hauled down just inside the box, but the answer from the ref was the same as the previous request.

Edinburgh City: Stobie, Mbu, Dunsmore, Porteous, Laird, Donaldson, Walker, Gair, Beattie (Dunn 65), Riordan (McConnell 76), Allan.

Berwick Rangers: Brennan, Hamilton, McKinlay, Verlanque (Phillips 83), Scullion, Spark, Thomson, Lavery, Rutherford, McKirdy (Notman 90), Murrell.

Referee: Grant Irvine.

Attendance: 423.