James McDonaugh proud of Edinburgh City players despite Irn-Bru Cup semi heartache

Edinburgh City manager James McDonaugh was proud of his players' efforts. Pic: TSPL
Edinburgh City manager James McDonaugh was proud of his players' efforts. Pic: TSPL
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Edinburgh City boss James McDonaugh insists he couldn’t be more proud of his players despite losing their Irn-Bru Challenge Cup semi-final clash on penalties to Welsh top-tier outfit Connah’s Quay Nomads.

The Ladbrokes League Two leaders were beaten 5-4 in the shootout following a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes. Craig Thomson and Ciaran Diver had their spot-kicks saved by Connah’s goalkeeper John Danby, while City No.1 Calum Antell also blocked from Michael Wilde.

Josh Walker had given the Citizens the lead as early as the second minute at the Deeside Stadium. Top goalscorer Blair Henderson’s close-range effort was parried by Danby into the path of Walker, who slammed the ball high into the roof of the net from just a couple of yards.

The hosts equalised in the 18th minute after a long throw into the box ricocheted into the path of Wilde, who stabbed home from four yards.

Both sides had opportunities to win the tie, but couldn’t be separated after 120 minutes. Connah’s will now meet Championship side Ross County in next month’s final.

“It was a game of football myself or the club hasn’t experienced before so I don’t want to criticise anyone,” McDonaugh said. “I thought we stood up to the physical test really well. I think I found out a lot more about my players so I’m really proud of them. I had players asking to come off because they couldn’t run anymore so that tells you how much the guys put into the game.

“It wasn’t so long ago we were playing on public parks to being a penalty shoot-out away from a national cup final. Connah’s couldn’t be more complimentary towards us so that was really nice to hear afterwards. It would have been great to have got to the final, but we must now turn our attentions to the league.

“We’re in a good position just now so I hope the players can take a lot of confidence from this. We’ve now got one focus. No matter what happens we’ve exceeded our expectations. Let’s go and give it our best shot.”