Edinburgh City require five points for Lowland title

Ian McFarland (No.7) chips his speculative lob towards the University net for the only goal of the game. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
Ian McFarland (No.7) chips his speculative lob towards the University net for the only goal of the game. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
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Edinburgh City require just five points to win the Lowland League title following Saturday’s 1-0 win over Edinburgh University at East Peffermill.

Ian McFarland’s first-half strike earned City their third successive 1-0 victory in as many weeks and replicated the scoreline from the same fixture at Meadowbank earlier in the season.

There was an element of fortune about the winning goal, and McFarland admitted he was surprised to see the ball go in after Mark Tait got hands to it. “I could tell when I hit it that he didn’t know whether to tip it over or catch it,” he said. “In the end he kind of did a bit of both and luckily it just dropped in – they all count!

“I had to take a second look to see if it had gone in and then I saw all the boys surrounding me.

“We’ve been trying to get the second goal and kill off teams but it’s hard – the boys are having to dig in. The only thing we can look at now is the next game – it’s always the most important. As soon as we get the points [to win the league] we’ll be happy but until it’s done we won’t be taking our foot off the pedal.”

City were inches from opening the scoring after ten minutes. Frazer Paterson met Dougie Gair’s cross from the left and his looping header had Tait beaten, only for Paul Sutherland to head the ball off the line. Andrew Stobie needed to show quick hands at the other end, stopping Calum Irvine’s header with one then juggling it with the other as Uni forwards waited to nod it home.

Jack Guthrie displayed his trademark pace to race in behind shortly after but his shot was straight at Stobie. John Dunn’s volley was well saved by Tait and McFarland could only send the rebound over the bar. However, the No. 7 enjoyed a stroke of luck to break the deadlock five minutes before the interval. With the ball caught under his feet, he managed to dig out a shot from 18 yards that Tait looked to have tipped over, only for the ball to drop into the net and give Gary Jardine’s team a half-time advantage.

Guthrie went close again just before the hour but his first-time shot evaded the far post as well as Stobie. City then really should have sealed the points with 20 minutes remaining. Substitute Mark McConnell’s volley was parried by Tait but Dunn sent the rebound into the side netting rather than registering what looked to be an inevitable second, although it wasn’t needed in the end.

Jardine refused to admit his side are nailed-on champions despite knowing his men are within touching distance. “I’m not going to say we’re going to win it but we know exactly what it’ll take to do it. Every week I say that was the hardest three points – no game in this league is easy. You have to work your socks off for it and we’ve done it again.”

Uni boss Dorian Ogunro felt his side were unfortunate not to take anything. “I can’t fault them, it’s just unfortunate that the goal was a mistake. Of course they’re a good side – that’s why they don’t get beat but I thought for us to come away with nothing was difficult to take.”

Edinburgh University: Tait, MacFarlane, Sutherland, Irvine, Black, Daniels-Yeoman, Ward, Maelger (Mair 79), Guthrie, Aitken (Evans 85), Oswald (Patterson 70).

Edinburgh City: Stobie, Caddow, Donaldson, McKee (McConnell 70), Paterson, Mbu, McFarland, Gair, Allum (Osborne 86), Vanson (Harrison 82) Dunn.