Edinburgh City didn’t need to wait until the bells to start celebrating a happy Hogmanay as two goals in the first 160 seconds sent them on their way to a 3-1 win over Berwick Rangers at Shielfield Park.
Chris McKee’s opener was immediately followed by a Dougie Gair strike, and Craig Beattie ensured the points headed back up the A1 with a second-half penalty. Jordyn Sheerin’s consolation proved immaterial for John Coughlin’s men.
The win leaves City sitting sixth in Ladbrokes League Two going in to 2017. “It’s a fantastic way to end the year,” said manager Gary Jardine. “If anybody told me after ten games that we’d have 21 points by this stage I’d have thought they were crazy. The way the boys have stuck at it and turned it around has been exceptional.
“It was a great start today and it was important as I’d warned them about being complacent having been on a good run and how we needed to start on the front foot. Berwick conceded early against Annan and we wanted to try and do the same. To get two is probably unknown to us in a first half! We rode our luck a wee bit when one came off the post but overall we deserved to win. Now we’re up to sixth we’ll look ahead, but we’re conscious of everybody in behind sand it’s going to be nip and tuck until the end of the season.”
The hosts were more organised during the pre-game minute’s applause for supporters who had passed away during the year than they were in the opening 60 seconds of action. McKee met Marc Laird’s free-kick from the right bang on the minute mark, forcing it past Kevin Walker from close range.
Berwick had barely kicked off again when the visitors doubled their lead. Gair raced on to a through ball and calmly lifted it over Walker, who had only touched the ball with his hands in the act of picking out the net.
Andrew Stobie was tasked with his first save on 23 minutes, Greg Rutherford turning and volleying towards goal, but the City keeper gathered comfortably. The striker was in again immediately after, but lost all composure and blazed over.
Joe Mbu survived a scare after half-an hour when his backwards header looped over a stranded Stobie, but thankfully for City the ball bounced off the post and into the keeper’s arms.
The game should have been out of sight for Jardine’s team four minutes later. Ian McFarland’s quick free-kick found Ouzy See’s run down the channel. He in turn picked out Gordon Donaldson at the back post, but he fired wide under pressure on his right foot.
A scrappy second half didn’t produce much until Ben Stirling brought down See who was in on goal. It was just a yellow for the Hibs loanee, but Craig Beattie looked to have put the result beyond doubt after sending the penalty straight down the middle, reminiscent of his 2012 Scottish Cup semi-final winner against Celtic.
That wasn’t quite that however, as substitute Sheerin enjoyed a large slice of fortune when an attempted clearance rebounded off him and past Stobie to reduce the deficit back to two again.
Beattie was delighted to back amongst it after an injury lay-off. “It was a frustrating hamstring injury and to be fair the gaffer’s been really patient with me,” he explained. “This game was the initial target and to cap it of with a goal, albeit a penalty kick, and three points, is a great end to the year.”
Berwick Rangers: Walker, Hamilton (Perez 70), Martin (Notman 34), Stirling, Scullion, Fairbairn, Thomson (Sheerin 66), Mackie, Rutherford, McKenna, Lavery.
Edinburgh City: Stobie, Dunsmore, Donaldson, Porteous, Laird, McKee, McFarland, Gair (Dunn 63), See, McConnell (Beattie 63), Mbu.
Referee: K Graham.