Edinburgh City boss Gary Jardine couldn’t conceal his disappointment as his side came within seconds of picking up a crucial three points in their battle for SPFL League Two survival.
The hosts had led bottom-of-the-table Cowdenbeath through a first-half Josh Walker free-kick and it looked as though the Englishman’s sublime effort would be enough to extend City’s gap over the Blue Brazil to seven points.
However, with virtually the last kick of the game, the visitors’ former Musselburgh, Bonnyrigg and Newtongrange striker Kris Renton found space just inside the City penalty box and fired a low shot beyond the reach of goalkeeper Calum Antell to blow the relegation scrap wide open.
With just four league matches remaining, victory for the Capital outfit would have virtually sealed their place in Scottish football’s fourth tier for at least another season and now Jardine hopes Renton’s late intervention doesn’t come back to haunt them.
“It feels like a defeat,” Jardine groaned. “I think we were fortunate to go in ahead at the break so a draw was probably a fair result. Although it wasn’t a great game I felt we controlled the second half so we’ve thrown it away. Coming into the game it was a match we certainly didn’t want to lose so it’s another game ticked off. Our aim has always been to stay in the league so again it’s another huge lesson in how we defend and we have to learn to see games out.”
Jardine was able to console himself with the quality of the strike that had given his side the lead just before the half hour.
“Josh has got a lovely touch, weighted pass and sees the game well,” he said. “The park was horrible out there so he’s done so well (to score) from that range considering how poor it was.”
With so much at stake for both clubs, it was disappointing the opening quarter failed to produce anything of real note. However, as the half wore on the visitors began to assert themselves more in the City half and Fraser Mullen’s free-kick from 25 yards kept Antell on guard.
Just moments later former Livingston defender Shaun Rutherford’s corner was met by Jamie Pyper but he somehow contrived to glance his header wide from all of eight yards.
Rutherford was then rightly booked for simulation having tried to con referee Craig Charleston into awarding the Fifers a penalty.
Kyle Miller played a neat one-two with Liam Henderson and from the latter’s pull back, Miller was wasteful in knocking the ball beyond Antell’s left-hand post when it seemed easier to score.
Cowden were left to rue their profligacy in front of goal as up stepped Walker to curl home a quite emphatic opener that left Jamie Sneddon in goal clutching thin air.
But Walker quickly went from hero to villain as he foolishly bundled over Robbie Buchanan five minutes before the break to give former Hearts striker Dale Carrick the opportunity to level from 12 yards. Antell, though, guessed right diving to his left to send City in ahead at the interval.
An uneventful second half was spared by Renton’s neat finish deep into stoppage time as Cowden earned a share of the spoils.
Visiting boss Gary Locke said: “I thought we were the better team by a mile in the first half but we can’t miss the chances that we have done. We should have been two or three up by half-time. I think that’s the fifth penalty that we’ve missed which is alarming but they kept at it and I think we got our reward in the end.
“I said a couple of weeks ago that it was going to take a miracle for us to stay up but we’ve given ourselves a chance and we’ve got to keep believing.”
Edinburgh City: Antell, Dunsmore, Porteous, Mbu, McKee (Harrison 82), Allan (Caddow 90), Laird, Gair, Walker, Dunn (Cummings 82), Beattie. Subs: Stobie, McFarland, Guthrie, Riordan.
Cowdenbeath: Sneddon, Mullen, Pyper, Syme, Rutherford, Buchanan (Moore 65), O’Brien (Johnston 82), Miller, Renton, Henderson (Muirhead 70), Carrick. Subs: McGurn, Ross.
Referee: Craig Charleston.