A late goal from substitute Jordan Caddow helped Edinburgh to secure a convincing 3-0 win over play-off challengers Elgin. Captain Dougie Gair also grabbed a brace on a fantastic Saturday afternoon for the home side at Meadowbank. It was their biggest victory of the season so far.
The home side dominated the game throughout and with ten minutes on the clock, Marc Laird took a ball down well on the halfway line. Craig Beattie nicked it off his toes and prodded the ball through to on-loan Hibs man Lewis Allan, and his diagonal ball found Laird on the run. His first touch brought the ball down well and with his second, he chipped it over the top to Gair. The captain broke the offside trap, but unfortunately hit his shot straight at the keeper.
They had a better chance two minutes later. Ian McFarland won a corner down the left and he played it short to Lewis Allan. After getting the return ball, McFarland surprised everyone by passing it low to the penalty spot. Joe Mbu, the big centre-half, peeled away and his low left footed drive was well saved by Elgin stopper Cameron McKay.
Elgin weren’t dealing with Edinburgh’s innovative set-pieces very well and after Gair played a corner short to John Dunn, the full-back had an age to put a cross in. It was half-cleared to midfielder Josh Walker, and his first-time volley whistled just wide.
Allan then flicked a long ball on to Beattie into the box, and his low drive across the six-yard area was just beyond Laird’s reach. The same two players combined again minutes later when Beattie held the ball up on the edge of the box, allowing Allan to run onto it and crash a shot at goal from twenty yards out. The ball cracked violently off the crossbar and flew out of play.
Elgin were only able to create half-chances but should have done better when Chris Dodds got the better of makeshift full-back Dunn twenty minutes in. He dragged it back to Chris McLeish, who has been fairly prolific this season, but he scuffed his shot straight through to Calum Antell in the Edinburgh goal.
Chances began to come thick and fast at either end. First, Josh Walker tried another spectacular strike after Elgin failed to clear a dangerous long throw and his dipping half-volley only just cleared the crossbar. Then, Mbu clattered into McLeish and gave away a free-kick in a dangerous position but Mark Nicolson whipped it well over Antell’s goal. From the resulting goal kick, a flick on found Lewis Allan in a good position on the edge of the Elgin box. He tried to be cute with his attempt and lob it past the keeper, but his right footed effort dribbled miserably wide.
Edinburgh then took the lead five minutes before half time. They looked to have lost the chance by being too intricate on the edge of the box, but an Elgin defender made a mess of clearing the ball. He kept the ball in play when he would perhaps have been better advised letting it run out for a corner. Beattie retrieved the loose ball and played it back to McFarland. His cross was taken down by Laird with his back to goal. He had the presence of mind to lay it off to Gair, who bundled a shot past Mackay for his 8th league goal of the season.
The home side were quick out of the blocks in the second period and they won a 48th minute penalty, after a ball was clipped cross-field to Craig Beattie. He chested it down and it flicked off the hand of Elgin defender David Brownlie. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Gair has a fine record from twelve yards and he made no mistake again, sending the keeper the wrong way.
Gair was looking in fine form, and his diagonal ball over the top was chested down by Beattie, who found himself one on one with Mackay. He should have done better with the chance, knocking one against the onrushing keeper’s legs.
Soon after, Antell received a back-pass from Mbu and hacked it up the pitch. Elgin’s defence clumsily played Laird onside and he took it down and chipped it to Beattie. The veteran striker attempted an extraordinary left-footed volley, which whistled just wide of the far post.
Allan was very unlucky not to make the game safe on the hour. Walker retrieved a loose ball and hooked it back into the box. Allan took it down and whipped in a fierce strike from the penalty spot, only to be denied by a flying Mackay. McFarland took the resulting corner, which was met by a fierce header from Chris McKee, the ball flashing just wide.
Elgin were very unlucky not to halve the deficit when a free-kick from deep was only headed straight up in the air. Darryl McHardy hit the dropping ball first time and it took a little nick before crashing into the side netting.
They had another good chance minutes later. A determined run down the left by Daniel Moore saw him cross it into to his fellow Elgin substitute Jamie Reid. His half-volley on the run was well-struck but Antell made a fine reaction stop, plunging to his right to grab the ball.
Edinburgh’s build up play was a joy at times on a sunny afternoon at Meadowbank, and with fifteen minutes to go, they gave us yet another fine example of this. Walker clipped the ball over the top to Laird who must have been tempted to lay it in to hat-trick hunting Gair. Instead he played a glorious cross in to Allan, who flicked a header straight at the keeper.
Elgin weren’t fashioning many chances and when they did, they proceeded to waste them, A corner wasn’t dealt with by the home defence and the ball made its way all the way to the back post. Nicolson couldn’t make a clean connection, heading the ball down and wide.
City made the game safe near the end. An Elgin defender tried to shepherd a bouncing ball back to his keeper, but he didn’t anticipate how persistent young Lewis Allan would be. He chased it down and prodded the ball across the stranded keeper, to give substitute Caddow a tap in.
Walker made a silly challenge near the end, earning a yellow card for raising his studs in the centre of the park. There was a bit of afters but the referee calmed matters down quickly. It did nothing to spoil what was a wonderful day for the Edinburgh outfit.
One of City’s best days of the season then as they dismantled a surprisingly poor Elgin side. Their 3-0 win takes them seven points clear of bottom placed Cowdenbeath and leaves safety in site. Elgin’s struggles continued without their star striker Shane Sutherland as they go six games without a win. The title is starting to look beyond their reach and they’ll have to bounce back soon to ensure that play-off spot.
Edinburgh City Manager: Gary Jardine
Edinburgh City Line-Up: Antell, Mbu, Dunsmore, Beattie (Caddow 76), Laird, McKee, McFarland (McConnell 83), Gair, Allan, Walker (Guthrie 89), Dunn Subs Not Used: Riordan, Cummings, Harrison, Stobie
Goals: Gair (38, 48) Caddow (85)
Yellow Cards: Allan (84), Walker (88)