A three-goal blitz in eight minutes in the second half gave Edinburgh City a 3-2 victory over Annan, but they again endured a nervy finish after letting the hosts back in with two late goals – a carbon copy of the reverse fixture in January.
Scott Shepherd’s stunner gave City the lead and a Jesus Garcia Tena free-kick and Craig Beattie’s header had them in cruise control.
Conor O’Keefe reduced arrears with four minutes remaining before a late Blair Henderson penalty made things a little too close for comfort for City boss James McDonaugh.
“It was just the same as the last game and I said to the players we could focus on the positives or the negatives,” he explained. “You’re not far away from the changing-room being scattered a wee bit there.
“Let’s concentrate on the positives though. We’ve come away from home and scored three goals. Alright, I thought we were actually hanging on a bit at the end and the last time we played them we weren’t really hanging on, but this time we had to show a bit of steel.
“Credit to Annan, they never gave up and it just shows you that even at 3-0 down you can come back in games. I think we’ve played better, but it’s a good three points.”
Craig Thomson almost opened the scoring on five minutes with what would have been a screamer, but his excellent strike forced an equally impressive save from Alex Mitchell. Josh Walker took the resulting corner and Farid El Alagui should have done better with a free header that he met with power but no accuracy.
John Dunn’s through ball to the fit-again Shepherd afforded City an even better chance, but the on-loan Falkirk striker lifted the ball over the bar.
Having acrobatically palmed Thomson’s early strike over, Mitchell showed similar agility to tip Garcia Tena’s curling free-kick wide for a corner.
It was City keeper Calum Antell’s turn to impress a minute before the break, reacting brilliantly to turn Blair Henderson’s hooked shot over the bar.
A scrappy start to the second half produced a couple of half chances for each side before City took the lead with a brilliant goal. Shepherd collected possession on the right and moved infield, looked up and sent a wonderful dipping strike over Mitchell to mark his return to action.
“Being sidelined, it’s miserable and you want to be playing, but coming back with a goal is good,” said Shepherd. “I caught it well and I thought it was going over, but it’s dipped at the last minute.”
Another strike from distance increased City’s advantage shortly after the hour. Garcia Tena’s free-kick was well hit, but benefited from a slight deflection which wrong-footed Mitchell and flew past him at pace.
McDonaugh’s men looked to have put the game to bed immediately with a third. Walker’s corner from the left was met with a thumping header by Beattie for his second goal in as many games. However, Annan sparked an attempted comeback with four minutes remaining. Evan Home hit the byeline before cutting back for substitute O’Keefe, who drilled low past Antell at the near post.
Annan were given even more hope when they were awarded a penalty with a minute to go. Henderson rolled it home for 3-2, but City were able to hang on.
“We edged it but I think 3-0 would have been a wee bit cruel on Annan to be honest,” McDonaugh admitted. “With a goal in it at the end, I felt we were the better team.”
Annan Athletic: Mitchell, Hooper, Creaney, Henry (Roberts 61), Watson, Moxon (O’Keefe 70), Home, Sinnamon, Smith (Armour 67), Henderson, Omar.
Edinburgh City: Antell, Thomson (McKee 87), Garcia Tena, Beattie, Rodger, Dunn, Walker, Blues, Taylor (Watson 81), Shepherd, El Alagui.
Referee: Scott Miller