SCOTTISH football is no closer to knowing the identity of the first participant in the SPFL pyramid play-off final after both sides matched each other in terms of scoreline and performance.
Scorers: Edinburgh City - Deniran 58; Brora Rangers - McLean 80
In fact, the only question answered during the 90 minutes was the mystery surrounding the visitors and whether they really wanted to sacrifice the security of the Highland League in favour of a shot at climbing up the now admissible steps of the Scottish football structure.
Chairman John Young may prefer Brora Rangers to remain in the Highland League, but that doesn’t mean the desire is shared by the players. The delight among the travelling squad was there for all to see when Martin McLean drove in Brora’s equaliser ten minutes from time.
“That performance just shows the contempt for some of the things said about they players,” insisted manager David Kirkwood. “That was two teams who wanted to give their all.
“It shows you that every single player on that park wants to go up. Everyone wants to win and you could see that in the reaction to the goal. That’s what it means to us.”
The match represented the first football league game (technically) to be played at Meadowbank Stadium since 1995. While the last permanent tenants were Meadowbank Thistle, the last league match was actually hosted by new incarnation Livingston. While waiting on their new home to be completed the Lions lost 1-0 to Arbroath in October 1995.
For large parts this contest was about a gripping as the one which preceded it almost 20 years ago. It started brightly enough, with Alexander Sutherland producing a smart save from City keeper Andrew Stobie inside the opening five minutes. This preceded the visitors’ best spell, with Steven McKay going close on two occasions and Sutherland dropping a corner on to the top of the crossbar.
Edinburgh City may have started slowly, but with the obvious quality of well-travelled striker Ortega Deniran in attack they always looked like a threat. The Nigerian teed up Aaron James to flash a shot over the bar before crossing for John Dunn to head wide from close range.
Both sides found it hard to carve out chances in the second half but the hosts finally took the lead on 58 minutes.
Scott Houston’s header back to keeper Joe Malin was slack and allowed Deniran to nip between the pair, flicking the ball around the advancing custodian and into the net.
City manager Gary Jardine decided to withdraw his goalscorer soon after, changing his shape and enabling Brora to take back the initiative. Despite Brora’s pressure, a goal still didn’t look like coming until McKay hooked a seemingly lost cause back into the penalty area. There McLean was able to take a touch and drive it low through a ruck of bodies into the far corner.