Gary Naysmith: Edinburgh City could not have given any more up at Aberdeen - they were just too good for us
Edinburgh City’s Scottish Cup journey may have ended at the fourth-round stage, but there can be pride taken from the way they fought against Aberdeen at Pittodrie.
The Dons cruised to a 3-0 win thanks to goals from Ryan Hedges, Christian Ramirez and Lewis Ferguson, yet that was to be expected given the gulf between the teams.
The Premiership outfit showed City the utmost respect by naming the same XI that started against Rangers on Tuesday night. All the big players were there and that resulted in a challenging afternoon for the League 2 part-timers.
“I didn’t expect Stephen to play the team that played against Rangers last week,” admitted City manager Gary Naysmith. “I was a little bit worried going into the game, although you try not to show that to the players.
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“How do we combat a team that played the way they did? I would have liked to have carried more of an attacking threat. Aberdeen were at it.
“Stephen would have been disappointed at going out of the League Cup against Raith Rovers and didn’t want a repeat of that.”
Aberdeen showed their intentions from the off, penning City inside their own half. Goalkeeper Brian Schwake was a busy man. The Citizens held out for 23 minutes, when Hedges slid home a Jonny Hayes cutback, and after that the writing was on the wall.
Ramirez fired home from close range just before the interval and, while Aberdeen wasted a slew of good chances and hit the woodwork three times, they eventually bagged a third goal in stoppage time, thanks to a looping header from Ferguson.
City had to do without the cup-tied duo of Jack Brydon and Ben Stirling, but were well-organised, combative and had a glimmer of hope 10 minutes from time when Anthony McDonald bore down on goal, only for his effort to smack the chest of Aberdeen keeper Joe Lewis.
“I couldn’t have got more from my players,” said Naysmith. “They were better than us and I wanted my players to enjoy that. They held on, albeit carrying a wee bit luck. That could have been worse. It could have been five or six goals against us.
"Because two or three players we brought in during January were cup tied, we were forced to play more attacking players than I would have probably liked – what you would class as five attacking players in the starting XI. And with our centre-back partnership, young James Farrell’s only 18, only his third ever start, and Lee Hamilton has been out for three-and-a-half months and didn’t even play a reserve game.
"The real frustrations for me are the timings of the second and third goals. With the third goal, the game is over, but I’d set them a challenge of trying not to lose the second half – and we nearly did it.
“We need to learn from this, but what more could I have got from them? We just came up against players who were better than us.
“Kelty are away with the league, unfortunately, but it is what it is. We find ourselves in fourth and need to make sure by the end of the season we are in the play-offs.”