Elgin boss Gavin Price is cautiously optimistic his team can carry last season’s powerful form into the new campaign.
Good pre-season performances were the prelude to Saturday’s League Cup group win over Stirling Albion.
Despite losing striker Kane Hester to a red card for the last quarter of the Borough Briggs tussle, City ran out comfortable 2-0 winners with Hester netting and ex-Ross County midfielder Russell Dingwall converting from the spot with nine minutes left.
City finished third in the Covid-19 curtailed campaign last season, with hopes high that they could secure a play-off place and push for League One promotion.
After losing talisman Shane Sutherland to Inverness, they seem to have retained that edge. Price said: “It’s very pleasing that we’ve got this result and you can’t argue with a clean sheet and the chances we’ve created, particularly in the second half.
“I’m not saying we’ve picked up from where we left off last season, but there were good signs there that, collectively, we are working hard for each other and being quite stubborn and hard to break down.
“There are bits to be ironed out from the way we played in that first half, but in the second we were outstanding, particularly when down to 10 men.”
The Binos threatened first after 23 minutes, with Andy Ryan leaving his marker for dead before rounding keeper Tom McHale, but his tight-angled finish hit the side-netting.
That sparked Elgin to life and Hester, just a minute later, forced a fine save from Cammy Binnie with a low left foot drive from the edge of the box.
In the second period, Dingwall sent Hester clear into the box, with his angled shot parried by Binnie only for Smart Osadolor to sky the rebound with the goal at his mercy.
Elgin took a firm grip after 67 minutes.
Matthew Cooper’s cross from deep on the right found Hester on the edge of the box and he made
himself space to fire past the keeper.
Hester, though, was sent off four minutes later. Having been booked for dissent in the first half, an accidental raised boot in trying to volley goalwards was deemed dangerous by the referee.
The setback failed to knock Elgin off stride and industrious Dingwall ran at the Stirling defence and drew a tackle from centre back Jordan McGregor on the edge of the box. Referee Dan MacFarlane called it inside the area, allowing Dingwall to strike home the vital second.
Stirling manager Kevin Rutkiewicz said: “Elgin thoroughly deserved it today. I don’t want to make excuses.”