Edinburgh City manager James McDonaugh praised his side’s all-round team performance as they saw off ten-man Cowdenbeath 2-0 at Ainslie Park.
First-half goals from Craig Thomson and Blair Henderson – the latter’s 32nd of the season – ensured the Capital outfit remain top of Ladbrokes League Two by a point, although nearest challengers Peterhead will assume that position should they beat the Blue Brazil at Balmoor tomorrow night.
Goalkeeper Calum Antell also made a crucial intervention when he saved Gary Fraser’s 24th-minute penalty and the visitors’ chances were extinguished when David Cox was given his marching orders midway through the second half for his petulance over referee Craig Napier’s failure to award Gary Bollan’s men a corner kick. McDonaugh, however, was delighted with his players’ response following last weekend’s Irn-Bru Cup semi-final defeat to Connah’s Quay Nomads on penalties. “I thought we played really well. The first half one was up there as one of our best for a while,” he said. “We were strong and looked good in all departments.
“Every time we’ve lost this season we’ve fixed it the week after. We’ve never lost two games in a row so that shows the character in the dressing-room. People who don’t watch the games think you’re just going to keep winning but there’s three teams in the hunt for the league so it’s just so tight. Every three points are big at this stage of the season.
“The games are not as easy as people think. We’re at the top but you have to respect the opposition. They’ve had to dig deep after getting a man sent off. You can never really complain at this stage of the season winning 2-0 and keeping a clean sheet. It was great goal from Craig. It’s not the first time he’s scored from that distance.
“He gets so much movement on the ball so I’m delighted for him. Calum also made a really important stop in saving the penalty when we were 1-0 up. That’s his 12th clean sheet in 25 league games so it’s a pretty decent return.
“Peterhead have the chance to go top tomorrow. Whoever wins the league at the end of the season will merit it but there will be two others chapping on the door right behind them. We’re in the mix so we’ll keep going.”
Scott Shepherd had seen an early strike crash into the side-netting following a pinpoint Thomson ball over the top of the Cowdenbeath defence.
However, it was the former Hearts player who edged his side in front in the 15th minute and what a strike it was. Captain Josh Walker rolled the ball into the path of the wing-back, who took one touch to control before unleashing a dipping drive that flew past Aaron Lennox from 30 yards into the top corner.
The Fifers were given the opportunity of a route back into the game when Marc Laird was adjudged to have barged over Kris Renton in the area but Antell dived low to his left to deny Fraser from 12 yards. A defensive mix-up then paved the way for Henderson to finish neatly before the game was brought to a halt after assistant referee Brian Templeton needed treatment for an accidental clash of heads with Cowden boss Bollan.
Cox forced Antell into action just after the interval and Robbie Buchanan saw a header come back off the post.
However, Cox let himself down for over protesting what he felt should have been a corner and, with that, Cowden’s chances of a comeback were gone.
Edinburgh City: Antell, Thomson, McIntyre, Black, Balatoni, Laird, Walker, B Henderson, Taylor (Watson 80), Shepherd (Diver 85), L Henderson. Subs: Morton, Rodger, Donaldson, Hall, Watson, Breen.
Cowdenbeath: Lennox, Mullen, Swann, Todd, Deas, Miller, Cox, Buchanan, Renton (Sheerin 83), Fraser (Malcolm 58), Allan (Henvey 80). Subs: McGurn, Pyper, Sneddon, Scott.
Referee: Craig Napier