Edinburgh City matchwinner Danny Handling on intense Army training regime after injury
Matchwinner Danny Handling has revealed how some intense army-based training has got his football career back on track.
The former Hibs striker was Edinburgh City’s hero on Saturday as his astute finish with just three minutes remaining was enough to see off previously unbeaten Dunfermline in their Betfred Cup Group H clash at Ainslie Park.
A knee problem that required surgery saw Handling miss eight months of last season as the Citizens fell just short in their quest for promotion to League One.
However, the second-half substitute showed terrific composure to fire home the winner after Marc Laird’s deflected effort had fallen kindly for the 25-year-old who sent the ball over goalkeeper Ryan Scully and into the far corner.
It’s been far from plain sailing for Handling, who admits he is just glad to be back on the pitch again.
“I’ve been going to a guy who works in the army, Sean Malee, so it’s been pretty intense. There’s been a couple of times I’ve felt like I’m going to be sick,” Handling quipped. “I’ve got a strict rehab programme with him that I’ve been on for about eight or nine weeks now and it’s going well. I also see the physios here on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I’ve got a lot of help. I just need to keep at it and hopefully everything will come together.”
On his composed finish, Handling added: “You just want to come on and do your best. The ball fell kindly for me so I just had to make sure I put it away. I’m just glad to be back playing again because the last thing I want to be doing is sitting in the stands.
“I’ve been in a few dressing rooms but this is definitely one of the better ones. Everyone is chipping in. We just want to keep picking up the points in the group and see where it takes us. If we pick up another three points against East Kilbride (tomorrow) then that will put us in a really good position.”
Following last Wednesday’s last-gasp defeat to St Mirren, City have an opportunity to qualify from the group with matches against East Kilbride and Albion Rovers to come over the next five days.
A jubilant City manager James McDonaugh said: “I think the game could have gone either way but for us it’s a big achievement to get a win over a Championship team who have been flying. It gives us a lot of confidence going forward.
“We’ve played better sides than us in terms of league position but we’ve competed well. Being part-time, I hadn’t seen the players since the game on Wednesday at St Mirren. So, you’re turning up on Saturday trying to work on a different shape but that’s part of being a manager at this level.
“Danny’s was a great finish but he’s got that in him. I was always going to give him half an hour or so as he has been out a long time so he’ll not be far away from starting a match.”
The visitors had been denied an opener by a great fingertip save from Callum Antell midway through the second half, with the City No.1 tipping Lewis McCann’s effort onto the crossbar.
The Pars lead the way in Group H with six points with City a further three points back in third. “We’re disappointed to lose the game on the back of two positive results,” said Dunfermline boss Stevie Crawford.
“We didn’t create enough chances but I didn’t see us losing the game. All credit to Edinburgh City but the challenge for us now is to see how we respond.”
Edinburgh City: Antell, Thomson, McIntyre, Balatoni, Laird, Smith (Handling 63), Crane, Watson (Walker 75), Henderson, Court (Shepherd 68), Harris. Subs: Adamson, Sinclair, Kane, Lumsden.
Dunfermline: Scully, Comrie, Martin, Ahscroft, Morrison, Paton, Dow, Beadling (McGill 87), Nisbet, Ryan (Turner 55), Coley (McCann 68). Subs: Gill, Lang, Edwards, Allan.
Referee: Grant Irvine