Edinburgh City ground out a 1-0 victory over Berwick Rangers to move up to second in Ladbrokes League Two.
Top scorer Blair Henderson’s penalty on the hour mark gave the Capital outfit a much-needed three points that keeps them within five points of leaders Peterhead, who ran out 3-1 winners away at Cowdenbeath.
It was far from plain sailing for the Citizens though, who found themselves second best for the majority of the first half.
Nonetheless, having slipped down to third in the table following Saturday’s narrow defeat at Clyde, the outcome was just the response manager James McDonaugh was looking for.
“We ground it out because of the result but I thought we passed the ball about well and were the better team,” McDonaugh said afterwards.
“The players just want to win, like every team in this league. I don’t think they are on edge. We haven’t lost two games in a row this season so that’s really pleasing that we’ve always managed to bounce back straight away from a defeat.
“If you want to put things in perspective we’re sitting on 58 points which is three more than what Montrose, who won the league, were on at this stage last season.
“We can’t do much about what Peterhead or Clyde do. It’s just three really good teams going at it. We won’t give up that’s for sure.”
McDonaugh made one change from the 1-0 defeat at Clyde on Saturday, former Hibs and Livingston defender Bradley Donaldson preferred to Craig Thomson in the right full-back position. It was the 24-year-old’s first league start of the season and his first since the 3-1 Irn-Bru Cup win over Albion Rovers in August.
Despite their struggles this season – they haven’t won since Novermber’s 2-0 victory over Albion – Berwick looked the more purposeful in attack with City looking weary on their feet. However, the Borders club’s inability to create much in the way of clear-cut chances underlined their struggles this season.
The home side’s first glimpse of the Berwick goal arrived five minutes before the interval as Robbie McIntyre’s low-driven cross had to be parried to safety by goalkeeper Sean Brennan.
That appeared to spark the hosts into life as they forced a series of corners but, much to their frustration, there was no end product.
City captain Josh Walker grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck ten minutes after the restart, the Englishman’s rasping drive from 25 yards forcing Brennan into a fine fingertip and onto the crossbar.
City got the break they so desperately craved on the hour mark. A deep cross to the back post was knocked back into the path of Henderson by substitute Allan Smith, and from Henderson’s strike on goal, defender Dougie Brydon was adjudged to have blocked the 24-year-old’s shot with his left arm that resulted in referee David Lowe pointing to the spot.
Henderson composed himself before sending Brennan the wrong way from 12 yards to score his 33rd goal of the season.
Berwick almost found themselves back on level terms with just over ten minutes remaining. A neat interchange found former Penicuik Athletic midfielder Lewis Barr with a clear view of Calum Antell’s goal, but the Welshman got down well to block with his right arm before the danger was cleared.
Barr had one final opportunity to snatch a draw in stoppage time, but miscued his effort wide of Antell’s left-hand post on the angle.
Edinburgh City: Antell, Donaldson (Thomson 88), McIntyre, L Henderson, Black, Balatoni, Laird, Walker, B Henderson, Taylor (Smith 55), Shepherd (Breen 68). Subs: Morton, Rodger, Watson, Diver.
Berwick Rangers: Brennan, O’Kane, Wilson, Aloulou (Barr) 60, Murphy, Cook, McIlduff, Brydon, Rose (Healy 76), Ogilvie (Blues 73), Adamson. Subs: Goodfellow, Forbes, Hume, Brown.
Referee: David Lowe.