A LAST-MINUTE Derek Riordan winner proved to the be last scored at Meadowbank – for three years at least – as Edinburgh City bid farewell to their home ground in its current guise with a 1-0 win over Stirling Albion.
The three points – in what was also captain Dougie Gair’s last-ever home appearance before retirement – ensure City will finish seventh at worst in their first season as an SPFL club.
“It was nice way to sign off,” said manager Gary Jardine, whose team will call Ainslie Park home for the next three seasons as Meadowbank undergoes redevelopment. “As much as there was big thing about it being the last game at the stadium – which has been home for me for 15 years – we still saw an opportunity to try and creep up another place [sixth is still achievable on goal difference]. We wanted to sign off for a win for Dougie, for the stadium, for everybody, and finish the season on a high. That’s why we threw so many bodies forward, and we got lucky in terms of the ball dropping to Deek, who’s probably the only player on the park who could’ve scored that goal. It was a fantastic finish.”
After a third successive clean sheet, Jardine praised his team’s defensive solidity throughout the season. “Goals win championships, but clean sheets play a big part in staying up,” he explained. “That’s what our success in previous years – winning the Lowland League – was built on, and we were able to build on that. We’ve conceded 42 goals but we’re still disappointed with that. We set ourselves target of conceding the same amount of games we play. Last season in the Lowland League was 30 games and we conceded 33 goals. Queen’s Park got promoted via the play-offs by only conceding 36 goals, so that was the benchmark for us. We fell short, but have given ourselves a base to play from.” City picked up where they left off against Annan last week, knocking the ball about to good effect. Josh Walker’s clipped ball was controlled by Riordan, who was unlucky to see his overhead kick go just over after five minutes.
A short corner between Walker and Ross Guthrie resulted in the former picking out Ryan Porteous, but the defender sent his header over Chris Smith’s crossbar. It summed up the game when Calum Antell was forced into his first save with less than ten remaining, getting down well to parry Ross Kavanagh’s close-range header at the far post. There was a late scare when Antell was dispossessed by Henderson, but recovered well to save Kavanagh’s weak attempt at turning home the loose ball.
After 89 turgid minutes, a moment of real quality from Riordan finally woke the crowd up and won it for City. The former Hibs striker feigned to shoot with his left before cutting on to his right and pinging a great drive in to the far bottom corner. “It’s not the best of pitches, but that was probably the only one that sat right for us,” Riordan said of his strike. “It’s probably the best goal I’ve scored for City, from 20 yards or whatever it was, but I’m happy with any goal.” As for next term, Riordan’s keeping his options open. “I want to keep playing – I’m fit enough, and it’s better than sitting in the house,” said Riordan. “Im just getting in to the groove now, but it’s the end of the season. I had a similar pattern at East Fife – it just runs out dead quick. I’ll just wait and see what happens over the summer – I can’t rule out anything.”
Edinburgh City: Antell, Dunsmore, Porteous, Harrison, McFarland (Cummings 34), Walker, Guthrie (Donaldson 80), Gair, Riordan, Beattie (McConnell 29), Mbu.
Stirling Albion: Smith, McGeachie, Quigley, Black, Caddis, McMillan, Morrison (Kavanagh 59), Colquhoun, Smith (Henderson 59), McLaren, Bikey (McMullan 73).
Referee: G Ross