Josh Campbell’s acute finish on the stroke of half-time at Borough Briggs was enough to give the Capital side the advantage heading into Tuesday’s second leg at Ainslie Park.
Saturday’s win was the third time the Citizens have defeated the Moray club since the league’s resumption in March and they will now be favourites to secure a final spot against either Stranraer or Dumbarton.
However, manager Gary Naysmith and assistant Grant Murray have warned their players the tie is still very much in the balance.
“We got a goal at the right time because Elgin were the better side in the first half,” Murray said afterwards. “I thought we looked a wee bit tentative or nervous during the early part but that can happen because it’s a huge game for the club. But I thought in the second half we bossed both sides of the game, defended well and looked a real threat up top and probably could have scored again.
"That said, we’re only halfway there so we go into Tuesday’s second leg at 0-0. That’s the way we’ve got to approach it. Elgin will come down with a 1-0 deficit but that can easily be wiped out in a flash if we’re not prepared."
Murray also praised 21-year-old Campbell’s composure in the box to net the only goal of the game.
“Josh is a really important player to the team,” he said. “His second-half performance was also excellent. He was in the right place at the right time to score his goal with Ouzy (See) doing brilliant for closing the opposition down and although I thought he could’ve squared it at first, he had the confidence to slot it home.”
City goalkeeper Calum Antell, restored to the starting line-up having been rested in the midweek defeat at Stranraer, was alert to turn a Kane Hester effort away at his near post inside the opening five minutes.
Hester had another effort that was deflected wide after a quarter of an hour as the hosts looked to get their noses in front.
However, See was inches from giving the visitors the lead just after the half-hour mark when he capitalised on a short header intended for Elgin No.1 Thomas McHale, but the 26-year-old’s lobbed effort landed just wide of the far post.
City did strike on the stroke of half-time, though, on-loan Hibs attacker Campbell finishing with aplomb from a tight angle following See’s persistence.
Naysmith’s side went in search of a second and Liam Brown’s lung-bursting run almost delivered, the midfielder just pulling his effort wide of the target.
Josh Peters came agonisingly close to an equaliser in stoppage time, but Antell did brilliant to tip over the substitute’s net-bound strike and preserve City’s slender lead.
Elgin City: McHale, Cooper, Bronsky, McHardy, Spark, Dingwall (Peters 69), Mailer (Brown 54), MacPhee, Sopel (O’Keefe 66), Cameron, Hester. Subs: Wilson, MacEwan, Osadolor, Kelly.
Edinburgh City: Antell, Thomson, Hamilton, McIntyre, Crane, Black, Jardine, Brown, Handling (De Vita 80), Campbell, See (Henderson 88). Subs: Goodfellow, Denham, Dishington, Balatoni, Harris.