Edinburgh City’s remarkable season continues to notch up records and break new ground. Currently leading the way in League 2 just 12 months on from looking like they might be headed back to the Lowland League, they advanced to the semi-finals of a national cup competition for the first time in their history following a gutsy comeback and penalty shoot-out win over an Alloa Athletic side sitting two divisions above them.
Having clawed back a two-goal deficit, City held their nerve impressively during the spot kicks – testimony to the character and resilience manager James McDonaugh has instilled in his side.
The opening 12 minutes were about as catastrophic a start as could be imagined for the hosts. Lack of concentration in defence coupled with some clinical finishing from Alloa saw Dario Zanatta and the veteran Alan Trouten find the back of the net with an angled drive and close range header respectively.
City, however, did not buckle and both Liam Henderson and Graham Taylor drove in shots that tested the Wasps goalkeeper Nick Parry. It was not just the spirit which the League Two side displayed that was impressive – there was also a pace and width to their play which posed an increasing threat with full backs Craig Thomson and Robbie McIntyre delivering some menacing crosses and set pieces from either flank.
It was a delightfully floated corner from McIntyre that began the turnaround for City, with a powerful header from Blair Henderson sending it flashing past Parry. The goal arrived seconds before half-time and after the interval City kicked on, with Scott Shephard levelling in the 57th minute by lashing a through ball high into the Alloa goal.
The remainder of the second half saw both sides pressing for a winner. After parity continued to the 90th minute the City players delivered four perfectly-executed penalties while Alloa’s opening effort from Scott Taggart was saved by Calum Antell, pictured, and their final attempt was sent wide by Andy Graham.
“The players deserve enormous credit,” said McDonaugh. “So many of them have contributed today.”
A red card for Christian Mbulu proved costly for Motherwell Under-21s as they exited the Irn-Bru Cup in the quarter-finals to Ross County. Ross Stewart put visitors County ahead six minutes into the second half, but Adam Livingstone quickly levelled before Mbulu saw red. Stewart’s second goal of the game proved to be the winner.