Edinburgh City need to rediscover winning habit, says boss

Farid El Alagui's volley looked to have secured the three points for City
Farid El Alagui's volley looked to have secured the three points for City
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Edinburgh City manager James McDonaugh said his players acknowledged they need to break the habit of not winning games after a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Elgin denied them a first victory of his tenure.

Farid El Alagui’s stylish second-half half volley looked to have ensured a happy return journey down the snowy A9, only for Jordan Allan to power home a header as the game ticked towards stoppage time.

“There’s been loads of positives since I’ve come in, but there’s an underlying thing about winning games,” said McDonaugh. “This is not me saying it, it’s players, and it’s been there for a long time. It’s difficult to change that with the same people that are there.

“They just feel that they’ve almost forgotten how to win. Two or three times now we’ve been in a winning position and it’s not just about seeing the game out, but maybe going and getting a second goal to finish games.”

Elgin’s Bruce Anderson registered the first attempt within 90 seconds, but his first-time strike from the edge of the box was always curling away from Calum Antell’s far post.

Anderson again had a shooting opportunity when he cut inside Stuart Morrison, but fired straight at Antell.

At the other end, Josh Walker’s strike inadvertently found El Alagui, but his hooked volley over his shoulder after a good touch looped over Marc Waters’ crossbar.

The early chances were falling to the same two players. El Alagui was fed by Ashley Grimes in the box and got a good strike away, but Waters was down well to hold.

Grimes was next to have a go after Liam Henderson’s corner landed at his feet in the area, but his effort was high and wild.

Elgin looked like they were about to break the deadlock on the stroke of half-time when Chris McLeish’s effort was blocked by Jordan Caddow. Anderson seemed certain to turn home the rebound, but Antell did well to smother from point-blank range.

If the beginning of the second half at Peterhead was disastrous for City last weekend, this was the exact opposite. Henderson’s free-kick from the right was taken on the chest by El Alagui, who sent a brilliant volley into the top corner past Waters.

“It was a great goal, with the chest and volley into the top corner,” said his manager. “I think that’s been coming for him, and will give him confidence going forward.”

Allan almost responded immediately for the Highlanders with a dipping free-kick that, fortunately for City, landed on top of the net rather than in it.

Anderson looked for all the world like he’d levelled with a close-range volley, only for Craig Thomson to appear from nowhere with a brilliant goal-line clearance.

Just as Elgin looked to have run out of ideas, Allan crashed a header in off the bar with two minutes remaining from Thomas Reilly’s corner.

“To be fair to them, they’ve pressed for the equaliser, but I thought up until the goal we defended really well,” said McDonaugh. “We’ve limited them to shots from distance and they didn’t really look like scoring.

“Then last minute, it’s a corner kick, they’ve thrown everybody into the box and the ball’s landed at the only man who’s probably not getting picked up, and he scores. It’s a sore one.

“You’ve got to take the positives, though. It’s a point away from home. The players are gutted not to have won the match, but we’ll go again next week.”

Elgin City: Waters, Eadie, Allan, McHardy, Bronsky, McGovern, Anderson, Reilly, McLeish (Sutherland 58), Cameron, Dingwall (Bryne 68).

Edinburgh City: Antell, Caddow, Beattie, Morrison, Thomson, Laird (Malin 58), Walker, Henderson, Grimes (Hall 90), El Alagui, Shepherd.

Referee: D Williams

Attendance: 565