Edinburgh City captain Dougie Gair hailed his Ferrari Packaging Lowland League title-clinching goal as one of the finest moments of his 12 years in black and white.
Gair volleyed home midway through the second half to give his team a 1-0 win over Stirling University at Meadowbank, confirming a second successive league win in the process.
“It’s certainly up there, to score a goal like that to clinch the league,” said a beaming Gair. “I scored the winning goal when we first won the East of Scotland League ten years ago. I’m not in the habit of it, but not many will beat that one.
“It’s a very proud moment for me as captain.
“Going up to the Lowland League was a big step for us with that pathway in to the lower leagues, and to captain this club for five or six years is a great achievement.”
The goal sparked wild celebrations on the Meadowbank running track, a crowd of City fans from the Netherlands joining in having started making their way out of the stadium to catch a flight home.
“I don’t really know what happened!” Gair laughed.
“I saw it loop in to the net and thought, ‘I’m going to kick the corner flag’ for some reason. Then I saw all these guys just running at me. I don’t know who they were but they just piled on top of me!”
A scrappy opening quarter of an hour saw both sides exchange off-target efforts from distance, but produced nothing to trouble either Andrew Stobie or Tim Hughes in their respective goals.
Some neat interplay between Aaron Dunsmore and John Dunn on the right put Hibs loanee Dunsmore in behind the Stirling defence. His cutback fell for Gair, but he displayed why his right foot isn’t his strongest, inadvertently teeing up Mark McConnell, who fired over.
Stirling did have the ball in the net on the stroke of half-time through Paul Sludden, but his close-range finish was disallowed for a push on Stobie in the build up.
City began the second 45 on the front foot, substitute Ross Guthrie stinging the palms of Hughes with a fierce shot from the edge of the area. The Stirling keeper then showed good reactions to prevent Calum Burns from turning a Dunsmore cross into his own net. Guthrie went close again after latching on to Shaun Harrison’s clever free-kick, but his first-time effort bounced past Hughes and across the face of goal.
The breakthrough came in style with little more than 20 minutes remaining. Ross Allum’s lofted ball over the top put Gair in and the skipper controlled before sending a dipping volley over Hughes.
An outstanding save from Stobie prevented Burns from spoiling the party in the last minute, springing to his right to palm away the defender’s volley.
City will now face the winners of the Highland League – likely to be Cove Rangers – in the semi-final of SPFL pyramid play-off. The first leg for City will be away on April 23, with the return leg the following Saturday. The winner will face East Stirling in the final, who are confirmed as the bottom club in League Two.
• Edinburgh City have decided to withdraw from the Lowland League Cup. They were due to face Selkirk in the competition, but as the dates clash with the play-off matches, the league gave City the option of forfeiting the tie. City have taken up that option to maximise their chances of promotion, with Selkirk getting a bye to the next round.
Edinburgh City: Stobie, Dunsmore, Donaldson, Dunsmore, Mbu, MacDonald, McFarland (Guthrie 36 (Caddow 89), Gair, Allum, Dunn, McConnell (Vanson 80).
Stirling University: Hughes, Burns, Sheridan, Jones, Nixon, Leigh, Faulds (McCafferty 36), Gillen, Duah-Kessie, Pahlevan (Geddes 75), Sludden.