Elgin City crashed to a 1-0 League One promotion play-off semi-final defeat at home to Edinburgh City but their display suggests this tie is very much alive.
Fortune favoured Josh Campbell as he put the capital club ahead just before half-time from a clearance which kindly fell his way. That clinical finish made all the difference ahead of the second leg on Tuesday against a team Elgin just can’t find a way past.
The Moray men, whose closest opportunity of getting out of League Two came five years ago before they crashed to a 5-1 aggregate defeat against Clyde, were up against a side they cannot get the better of.
Edinburgh had won all three meetings this term, including a 2-0 success last weekend at Ainslie Park, and arrived at Borough Briggs nine games unbeaten in this fixture.
Despite that stat, Elgin finished level on 38 points with Edinburgh over the 22-game season, the same tally as Stranraer, who also made the play-off semis.
Same starting 11 for Elgin that sunk Spiders
City were unchanged from the side which defeated League Two champions Queen’s Park to secure third spot and this play-off semi-final shot.
The visitors made eight changes from the team which fell to a 2-1 defeat against Stranraer. The capital club had, however, secured a top four position last weekend by beating Elgin City 2-0.
Hester had first attempt
The league’s top scorer, Elgin’s Kane Hester, a hat-trick star in the 3-2 win over champions Queen’s Park on Tuesday, had the first attempt of note, with his free-kick held by former Nairn goalkeeper Calum Antell.
Aiden Sopel then forced a save from Antell before Hester saw a low drive deflected wide as the positive start continued for the hosts.
On 23 minutes, Edinburgh’s Liam Brown watched his low deflected drive finish past the left post as they were pressing forward with more intent and frequency.
Elgin goalkeeper Thomas McHale, 10 minutes before the break, saved a Josh Campbell shot from the edge of the box and survived the greasy ball spinning out of his grasp as his team-mates were on hand to clear it.
In first half stoppage time, Edinburgh nicked the lead when Campbell gathered a ball which fell his way after McHardy’s clearance bounced off See and the attacking midfielder slotted it past McHale.
It was a hammer blow to Elgin, who had more than matched their opponents over 45 minutes.
Edinburgh certainly began the second period with a spring in their step as they sought to kill his first leg off at least.
Liam Brown got a glimpse of goal on 61 minutes, but his swerver finished wide of the left post.
Substitute Josh Peters almost levelled for Elgin just seconds after replacing Russell Dingwall, but his low shot was just off target on 70 minutes.
In stoppage time, Antell had to be lively to touch a deft Hester effort over the crossbar.
In the other League One play-off semi-final today, Stranraer drew 0-0 with Dumbarton, who were League One’s ninth-placed team.