Injuries to key men haunt Edinburgh City ahead of play-offs

Edinburgh City manager James McDonaugh admits injuries are stretching his thread-bare squad to the limit as he watched his team succumb to a 3-2 defeat at Albion Rovers.
Blair Henderson opens the scoring for Edinburgh CityBlair Henderson opens the scoring for Edinburgh City
Blair Henderson opens the scoring for Edinburgh City

With City now poised to meet Clyde in the play-offs next month, McDonaugh isn’t confident he will have some of his key personnel back in time.

Saturday’s defeat in Coatbridge was the first time the Citizens have lost three games on the bounce this season – despite twice finding themselves in front at Cliftonhill.

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Central midfield pairing Andrew Black and Marc Laird were the latest names to miss out after picking up injuries during the week. And Liam Henderson and Scott Shepherd also had to be replaced in the second half after picking up knocks. “We’re suffering with the lack of quality we don’t have available, it’s as simple as that,” McDonaugh said.

“It’s just injury after injury each week so it’s becoming completely wearing.

“Again we had Scott Shepherd and Liam Henderson come off injured with Marc Laird and Andrew Black picking up knocks in training last week too.

“Everyone can moan about injuries and I know I have done all season but it’s almost becoming impossible to get a team out on the pitch.

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“I think we’ll be lucky to get one back for the play-offs but I don’t know who that will be. Craig Thomson is also on 11 cautions for the season and one more and that will be him out too. The fact is we’ve had ten players this season who have needed MRI scans so I don’t really know any other team that would be able to cope at part-time level.

“There’s been constant changes to the team since the turn of the year so I think it has had a massive impact, with our confidence as well. You’re going to have that wee bit of doubt creep in.

“So, really when you look at the bigger picture it’s remarkable we’ve managed to even secure a play-off place. We need to try and seal third spot now because Annan are closing in on us. It would be disappointing to finish fourth so whatever will be will be in the play-offs.”

Scotland’s top goalscorer Blair Henderson followed up his initial effort to give the visitors an early lead for his 38th strike of the campaign only for Smart Osadolor to draw the home side level four minutes later.

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City restored their lead two minutes into the second half through Craig Thomson’s free-kick but Gary Phillips restored parity for a second time after 65 minutes.

And Albion, who now just need a point from this weekend’s trip to Berwick Rangers that will consign their opponents to the Pyramid play-offs, won it with 13 minutes remaining with a fine Osadolor volley.

City, meanwhile, can now no longer catch Peterhead at the top of Ladbrokes League Two. However, three points from Saturday’s visit of Elgin will wrap up third spot.

McDonaugh was less than complimentary regarding the way in which his players gifted Albion their goals.

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“You need to learn when you give away goals like we did,” he said. “The first one was bad enough so for the second and third to end up going in like they did, we have to do better in that area of the pitch. We’ve let them score pretty much three identical goals. Calum [Antell] made a mistake but where was everyone else? Where were the defenders for the first and third goals?

“It was never going to be a pitch that allowed either side to play good football so the goals are always going to come from throw-ins or long balls forward. They managed it better than us and deserved their win in the end.”

Albion Rovers: Morrison, Fagan, Clarke, Wharton, Wilson, Morena, Reilly (Newell 62), Fotheringham, Osadolor (Ross 90), Byrne (Gordon 90), Phillips. Subs: Potts, Escuriola, McMahon, Fisher.

Edinburgh City: Antell, Thomson, McIntyre, Balatoni, L Henderson (Rodger 70), Donaldson, Watson, Walker, Galbraith (Breen 65), Shepherd (Taylor 76), B Henderson. Subs: Morton, Laird, Diver,, Lumsden.

Referee: Lloyd Wilson.

Attendance: 253.