Gary Naysmith sets sights on promotion after Edinburgh City secure play-off place

It's mission accomplished for Edinburgh City who booked their place in the play-offs with one game to spare after a 2-0 victory over Elgin.

By Neil McGlade
Sunday, 2nd May 2021, 8:56 pm
Edinburgh City manager Gary Naysmith and assistant Grant Murray have guided the team into the promotion play-offs (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)
Edinburgh City manager Gary Naysmith and assistant Grant Murray have guided the team into the promotion play-offs (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

First-half strikes from Josh Campbell and Liam Brown not only saw the Citizens return to winning ways but guaranteed a top-four finish and a shot at promotion to League One.

Gary Naysmith’s side require just a point from Tuesday night’s trip to Stranraer to secure a second-place finish. Should they achieve it, they will contest a two-legged tie against the team that finishes third, currently Stirling Albion, in the first round.

“When I came into the club, we wanted to make sure we finished in the top five and then the play-offs, which we’ve done, so now the next task is to get out of the play-offs,” Naysmith explained. “So all I can say to the players is thank you and well done for what you’ve achieved so far. But it’s just a start. We’d lost three of our last four games but two of them came against Queen’s Park so we’ve had a hard run of games lately.

"But I thought in the first half against Elgin it was the best we’ve passed the ball since I came to the club. In a game that meant so much, to put in that type of performance the players deserve a lot of credit. We managed the first 20 minutes of the second half when Elgin changed things up and after that I felt we were quite comfortable. There wasn’t a failure out there.

“We also managed to get some minutes into big Blair (Henderson) after his injury so it was nice to look along the bench and see some strength in depth. That’s not being disrespectful to the other players on the bench but we had (Marc) Laird, (Rafa) De Vita, (Conrad) Balatoni so well-known players to a lot of people.

“We’ve got others like Liam Henderson, Jordan Tapping and Alex Harris who are all close to a comeback so we might just be getting players back at the right time for a big few weeks ahead.”

City wasted little time at Ainslie Park and a surging run down the right in the sixth minute from Danny Handling led to the opening goal.

The former Hibs midfielder spotted the run of team-mate Campbell, who took a couple of touches before fizzing a left-footed shot into the bottom corner from 20 yards.

Handling really looked in the mood and his audacious effort from distance almost caught Thomas McHale out in the visitors’ goal.

City deservedly doubled their advantage seven minutes before the interval and what an exquisite finish it was from a player who continues to get better by the week.

Callum Crane found space inside the Moray side’s penalty box and his cutback was expertly guided into the top corner by the tenacious Brown.

Elgin, currently in the fourth and final play-off spot, had a bit more purpose about them after the break but failed to test Calum Antell.

Edinburgh City: Antell, Thomson, McIntyre, Hamilton, Crane, Jardine, Brown, Black, Handling (Laird 75), Campbell, See (B Henderson 85). Subs: Balatoni, Jarron, Dishington, Newman, Goodfellow, Denham, De Vita.

Elgin City: McHale, Wilson, Spark, McHardy, Cooper, Mailer (T Dingwall 69), R Dingwall (O’Keefe 60), Cameron, Hester, Brown (McPhee 46), Sopel (Peters 79). Subs: Miller, Osadolor, MacEwan, Dalling, Kelly.

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