Edinburgh City survived a late scare to record a third win in four games, beating Annan Atletic 3-2 at Ainslie Park
Ashley Grimes’ brace and Scott Shepherd’s opportunist second-half goal had City three goals to the good before an Aidan Smith penalty and Blair Henderson ensured a less than comfortable end to the game.
“I always like to give credit to the opposition when they deserve it, and at 3-0 down you’ve got to go for it a wee bit,” said City manager James McDonaugh. “Annan did that and credit to them, but I think in the first half we were really good.
“It’s maybe the best we’ve played since I’ve been here. We dominated, passed the ball well and looked assured at the back. We camped in their half and played good football. I had a bit of a pop at Josh [Walker] at half-time because he’s one-on-one with the goalie and should have made it 3-0.
“I was hoping that didn’t come back and haunt us and it didn’t, to be fair, and we scored through Scott Shepherd’s pace. Annan then had to come at us then and they got their two goals, which made it a bit tighter than the game suggested.”
City broke the deadlock when Annan failed to clear their lines and Grimes eventually collected possession, turned and curled the ball past Mitchell’s outstretched arm into the far corner.
Walker tried his luck soon after, but his effort bounced just the wrong side of Alex Mitchell’s left-hand post.
Henderson registered Annan’s first attempt at the other end, but his towering header was straight in o Calum Antell’s hands.
That aside, it was City on the front foot and they extended their lead on 33 minutes. Liam Henderson’s throw was laid off first time by Shepherd, and Grimes found the same corner as before.
The Mancunian was inches away from a hat-trick just before the break, meeting an excellent Craig Thomson delivery from the right with a glancing header that just spun wide. Walker then tried to play him in for a treble, despite appearing to have an easier chance at scoring himself.
“I felt a bit bad at half-time,” smiled Grimes afterwards. “I was screaming so I’ve probably made his mind up for him. Maybe I should have kept my mouth shut and let him finish that one himself.
“My goals were both pretty similar. It’s nice to score and when I find myself getting in those areas on the left side of the box, I’ll always fancy myself.”
It appeared any doubts about the points remaining in the Capital were extinguished soon after the restart. A long ball by Henderson looked to be an easy one for Pete Watson and Mitchell to deal with between them, but indecision allowed Shepherd to steal in and lob the advanced Annan keeper.
The visitors were given a glimmer of hope when Shaun Harrison brought down Henderson in the area. Smith stepped up, and Antell was unfortunate to get a foot to the admittedly weak penalty, only to see it spin back and over the line.
A mistake from Antell set up a nervy finish when he failed to connect with a bouncing ball, allowing Henderson to roll in to an empty net.
The win opens up a gap of nine points to bottom club Cowdenbeath.
“The wee gap maybe lets the boys relax a wee bit, but the last thing we want to do is relax,” said McDonaugh. “We want as many wins as possible between now and the end of the season and look up the way rather than down.”
Edinburgh City: Antell, Harrison, Walker (Watson 90), Laird, Thomson, Blues, Grimes (Taylor 78), L Henderson, Shepherd, Garcia Tena (Morrison 78), Scullion.
Annan Athletic: Mitchell, Brannan, Creaney, Horne, Watson, Hooper, Orsi (Sonkur 37), Omar, Smith, B Henderson, Armour (O’Keefe 85).
Referee: Graham Beaton