James McDonaugh hails Edinburgh City desire but hits out at missing players

Edinburgh City celebrate Ashley Grimes' opener. Pic: Alastair Linford
Edinburgh City celebrate Ashley Grimes' opener. Pic: Alastair Linford
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Edinburgh City manager James McDonaugh praised his players’ desire to win the game after their 3-0 triumph over Berwick Rangers brought him a first victory since taking the job in October.

Ashley Grimes gave them a half-time lead before a second half Scott Shepherd brace ensured City’s joint-biggest SPFL win since winning promotion.

“I think we showed a different side of our character today,” said McDonaugh. “There’s been games where we’ve been good, poor and unlucky. Today I don’t think was lucky – Berwick had spells when they were the strongest team, without a shadow of a doubt and you’ve got to credit them.

“There were times in the second half when they threw everybody forward and we showed a lot of heart and desire to go and win the game and scored two goals out of nothing to be fair, and it probably wasn’t a 3-0 game.

“What I have to say is I was missing ten players and I’m disappointed in some of them that are missing, because they should be here. One or two were working, but one or two are not here for reasons that for me, just aren’t right.

“I want to concentrate on the players that played though. They were here when they could have been doing something else, but they’ve put their necks on the line, they’ve not wanted excuses. Some have played with injections and through injury to get that victory. It’s been a long time coming and I think finally we got something we deserved.”

The visitors created the first real chance when Andy Irving fed Chris McDonald, but Calum Antell stood up well to parry, with the City bench claiming a foul on Farid El Alagui in the build up.

Michael McKenna was next to sting Antell’s palms after Craig Beattie misjudged a long free-kick from McCrorie.

The same payer should have given his side the lead after some excellent one-touch passing put him in, but he managed to place his side-foot effort across Antell and wide of the far post.

A deflected Grimes strike was comfortably held by McCrorie was all City had managed in terms of efforts on goal after 23 minutes.

The Mancunian fared better with his next attempt. A clever clipped pas from Josh Walker picked out his run and he flicked the ball over the defender’s head before sending a controlled volley low past McCrorie.

McKenna thought he’d levelled shortly after the hour from close range, but with Antell beaten, Jesus Garcia Tena was in the right place at the right time to clear off the line.

With Berwick pushing for an equaliser, City were always likely to be afforded a chance on the break and they took it with just over 15 to go.

Kevin McKinlay was short with an attempted header back to McCrorie and Shepherd was on it, just managing to flick the ball past the keeper and rolling in to the empty net.

The points were secure just minutes later. Again Shepherd’s pace took him racing in behind and he showed good composure to slot through McCrorie’s legs for 3-0.

“It’s been a tough shift and it’s good for myself, but more for the team,” said Shepherd. “We haven’t taken enough of our chances this season and I’m one of them who hasn’t. There was more space for me to run in behind second half and I got some joy out of it.”

McDonaugh highlighted City’s ability to build on their half-time lead as being key. “The second goal was massive,” he explained. “That and the third were against the run of play, but we’ve been in that situation before, at Peterhead for example when we’ve been one down and pushing, then lost two goals. Berwick were good in the second half, but credit to us that we were able to defend against it.”

Edinburgh City: Antell, McKee, Garcia Tena, Beattie, Hall (Harrison 74), Shepherd (Donnelly-Kay 89), Walker, Laird, Grimes (Watson 85), Scullion, El Alagui.

Berwick Rangers: McCrorie, Notman, McKinlay, Fairbairn (Murrell 74), Lavery (Thomson 77), McKenna, Irving, Stewart, Wilson, McDonald, Godinho.

Referee: C Graham.

Attendance: 446.