Edinburgh City manager Gary Naysmith needed to up the ante in the changing room at the break as Elgin City threatened to cause a League One play-off shock.
The Black and Whites deservedly led 2-1 after the first 45 minutes at Ainslie Park on Tuesday, thanks to a brilliant brace from Darryl McHardy, with Danny Handling’s reply in the middle of those making it 2-2 on aggregate.
Elgin were causing all sorts of problems for the Citizens, who were already 10 games unbeaten in this fixture before kick-off.
Edinburgh apprehensive as Elgin threatened an upset
Naysmith said: “We spoke to the players quite firmly at half-time because we were not defending as well as we expected and we were a bit apprehensive.
“I thought we managed the second half much better. With a couple of minutes left, I didn’t expect Josh Campbell to score a goal like that but I was confident in the group of players that our fitness was going to show. That’s no disrespect to Elgin’s fitness. I just think we’re a fit team.”
McHardy’s bullet headers were shredding nerves in the capital and Naysmith admits two of Elgin’s front men were also causing problems.
Cameron and Hester had Citizens on edge
He explained: “Elgin got hold of the early ball and, without doing anything clever or wonderful, they got the ball down early. Brian Cameron and Kane Hester probably caused us more problems than they did in the previous four games combined. They are good players.
“They got their ball from a corner, which came from a long ball which we didn’t deal with. Our players picked themselves up and Danny Handling scored a good goal and for the next 10-15 minutes we had our best spell of the game when we were really on top.
“Their goalkeeper (Thomas McHale) made two or three good saves to ensure we didn’t go ahead.
“It looked like if anyone was to score it would be us, but when they had a player off the pitch, we switched off and they scored from another corner. We were really making it difficult for ourselves.”
Josh Campbell, who scored the only goal in the first leg at Borough Briggs on Saturday, crashed home his unstoppable winner after hesitancy at the back let him in.
Wonder winner was ‘in the lap of the gods’
Naysmith added: “I think their player got caught on the ball and perhaps made the wrong decision. Josh was on the front foot and nicked it off him. As soon as that happened, I knew he was going to hit it then you are in the lap of the gods as to where it ends up.
“There was real emotion on the bench as soon as it went in and we just tried to calm everyone down. It was nervy but we got over the line.
“I’m not being a killjoy but we’ve not done anything other than given ourselves a chance to get out of League Two.
“We should enjoy that for the next couple of days but then it’s up to myself, the staff and players to ensure that all the hard work doesn’t go to waste.”
Edinburgh now face Dumbarton next Monday and Thursday in the League One play-off final.