Edinburgh City seal historic promotion to League 1 and arrange new talks with Alan Maybury
Small team, big dreams was the message emblazoned behind the goal that housed the travelling Edinburgh City fans.
It is no secret the Meadowbank club have lofty ambitions after winning a place in the SPFL through the pyramid system in 2016. Now the Citizens are celebrating a second promotion in six years which will see them rub shoulders with the likes of Dunfermline Athletic, Falkirk and Queen of the South in Scottish football's third tier next season.
However, they had to endure something of a nightmare first against a dogged Annan at Galabank, eventually digging themselves out of a hole in a 2-1 defeat on the night to come through the tie 3-2 on aggregate and round off the campaign as League One play-off winners.
Goals from Innes Murray and Ryan Shanley in Tuesday night's first leg had given the Capital men huge belief they could see the job through in Dumfriesshire.
But, as expected, Annan sprang out of the traps and by the 20-minute mark, had wiped out City's first-leg advantage – Tony Wallace, from the penalty spot, and Tommy Goss on target for the rampant hosts. The pendulum had swung in the favour of the Galabankies. Suddenly City's entire season now rested on the second 45.
Step forward Murray. The on-loan Hibs midfielder had been the standout at Ainslie Park earlier this week and once again he delivered on the big stage. Seven minutes into the second half the 24-year-old sent a quite breathtaking effort from 25 yards into the top corner to send the fans behind Greg Fleming's goal into raptures.
On-loan Livingston goalkeeper Brian Schwake, arguably City's player of the season, produced two heroic saves in the dying embers to preserve the slender lead as Annan threw the kitchen sink at their opponents. But the visitors' rearguard stood firm to see the job through.
Having replaced Gary Naysmith in March, interim boss Alan Maybury has shown he has the credentials to take on the role full-time.
"I'm just delighted for the owner, the chairman and the fans," Maybury told the Evening News. "It's been some journey over the last ten games or so. I said when I came in, I hoped to change one or two things but it's incredible to end the season with promotion. It's very little about me – I played full-back I don't need the praise! I'm happy working away trying to help people. I got the opportunity to come in and I found a system that worked, the boys bought into it and we got the injured ones back at the right time."
Asked if he wants the opportunity to manage the club on a permanent basis, he added: “I’m hoping this helps! We've had one conversation about the possibilities for next season but we all agreed that we would sit down at the end of the season. We'll wait and see what happens.”
A jubilant chairman Jim Brown revealed he will open discussions with Maybury and assistant Mark Kerr on Monday with the club expected to make an announcement early next week.
“What a rollercoaster of a night but what an unbelievable feeling,” Brown said. “The last six or seven weeks the boys have been absolutely immense.
"The plan for the next two days is to nurse tonight's hangover! On Monday we'll sit down with Alan and Mark and see what they think. Alan is obviously in pole position. He's turned the team around, we're playing the way we want and we're scoring goals. We're now promoted to League One so it's difficult not to offer him the job.
“It was a live audition for him effectively when he came in and I think everybody would say he's done pretty well. We'll make a decision this week because we now need to start planning for League One, both on and off the field. For us to compete next season, we need to invest. To get back to Meadowbank after the summer is just the icing on the cake."
Annan Athletic: Fleming, Barnes, Lowdon (Steele 73), Moxon, Hooper, Clark, Wallace (Garrity 67), Docherty, Smith, Goss, Johnston (McCartney 83). Subs: Adamson, Fleming, Swinglehurst, Murphy, McMenamin, Douglas.
Edinburgh City: Schwake, McIntyre, Hamilton, Tapping, See, Handling (Jardine 83), Logan (Brian 71), Shanley (Robertson 83), Murray, Travis, Crane. Subs: Leighfield, McDonald, Boyle, Berry, Mitchell.
Referee: Euan Anderson.