It ended with a 3-2 defeat at Berwick Rangers, but Edinburgh City boss Gary Jardine hailed a “magnificent” first season in Ladbrokes League Two for his team.
First-half goals from Darren Lavery and Greg Rutherford had the hosts two goals up at the break, only for Hibs loan duo Lewis Allan and Ryan Porteous to restore parity with five minutes to go in what is likely to be the pair’s last game in black and white. David Verlaque’s last-minute winner ensured Berwick will stay in the division alongside their opponents next season.
“Over the season, our players have been magnificent,” said Jardine. “People look on it as being magnificent from November onwards when we got the results, but the players have been magnificent from August. To keep turning up and turning out performances from August, we deserved more then we had. For them to keep doing that and not let their heads go down, I’m proud of them.”
There was also a word for departing club legend Dougie Gair. “He’s more than a footballer for Edinburgh City,” said his manager. “He’s part of the establishment – he’s been a wonderful captain and kind of my sidekick. We’re certainly going to miss him.
“He’ll come back – he’s an Edinburgh City man. One club, one love if you like. He’s going to go to Dubai for a couple of years and, when he comes back, there’ll be a job for him, definitely.”
Berwick almost made the perfect start when Aaron Murrell saw his low shot tipped on to the post by Calum Antell, referee David Lowe ignoring claims the Berwick attacker had handled.
The next attack brought the opener. Michael McKenna’s well-weighted through ball put Lavery in behind, who showed good composure to guide his finish through Antell’s legs.
Sean Brennan was required to make his first save after 20 minutes, collecting an awkwardly bouncing Derek Riordan free-kick. John Coughlin’s men looked to have the game and safety wrapped up eight minutes later. McKenna was the architect again, swinging a left-foot cross deep to the back post where Rutherford nodded home. An instinctive spin and volley by Murrell from six yards would have made it three, but for an equally-impressive reaction save by Antell.
City were enjoying the lion’s share of possession after the break but struggled to create anything clear-cut. a Jordan Caddow header off the top of the crossbar shortly after the hour the sum of the direct efforts on goal from either side. he deficit was halved with 15 remaining. Porteous’ header from a Josh Walker corner was blocked by Brennan, but fell for Allan, who turned and smartly lifted the ball high in to the net.
Allan almost headed a leveller with six minutes to go but Brennan launched himself to his right to palm behind. The respite was only temporary, though, as Porteous threw himself at a loose ball to sweep it home following Caddow’s header from the resulting corner.
Just when the hosts looked like they’d take a point, Verlaque slotted past Antell to win it for the Wee Rangers.
“You could see the backsides starting to twitch a bit,” said Coughlin of the second half. “It was a nervous time and we had to be resilient and make sure. They’ve got some really good players, they can pass, they can play and their strikers gave us all sorts of problems.
“Staying up means everything to me. My association with this town goes back a long way so I certainly didn’t want to be the manager taking them into the play-offs.”
Berwick Rangers: Brennan, Spark, Phillips, Notman, Scullion, Fairbairn, Thomson (McKirdy 90), Lavery, Rutherford (Hamilton 55), McKenna, Murrell (Verlaque).
Edinburgh City: Antell, Porteous, Dunsmore (Donaldson 45), Caddow, Cummings (McConnell 78), Walker, Allan, Gair, Riordan, Guthrie (Makofo 78), Mbu.
Referee: David Lowe