Elgin City manager Gavin Price says the increasing standard of the Lowland League must act as a warning not to treat Civil Service Strollers lightly in today’s Scottish Cup tie.
City enter the competition at the second round stage, having been drawn to face a Strollers side sitting 10th in their league at present.
Elgin have triumphed in a number of ties against Lowland League opposition in the competition during Price’s time in charge, with victories over Berwick Rangers, Whitehill Welfare, Stirling University and Edusport Academy – now Caledonian Braves – since he took over in 2017.
During Price’s previous stint as assistant to Jim Weir, City also defeated Gala Fairydean Rovers and Spartans.
Despite Elgin’s impeccable recent record against non-league opposition, Price insists the Black and Whites have been made to dig deep for their victories.
With the likes of Kelty Hearts, East Kilbride and East Stirling having added a number of former SPFL players in recent years, Price feels the standard of the Lowland League is on the rise.
That gives the Elgin boss reason to feel today’s opponents will provide a formidable test, and Price said: “It’s the league below us, and there are a lot of high quality teams and players plying their trade in that league.
“It’s certainly not a game we can treat lightly. We played Berwick Rangers at home last year, who are in a similar place in the league to where Civil Service are, and it wasn’t an easy one.
“We’ve had games against this sort of opposition a lot of years and we have come through them, but I wouldn’t say any of the games have been particularly easy.
“It’s going to be another one to hopefully battle through.”
Strollers are managed by former Edinburgh City manager Gary Jardine, who guided them to a sixth-place finish in the league last season.
They go into today’s game fresh from a 2-2 draw away to Caledonian Braves last weekend, with Price having watched their 1-1 draw against Cumbernauld Colts at Broadwood the previous week.
With 15 goals conceded in 13 league matches so far, Price has been impressed by the defensive resistance shown by the Edinburgh outfit, but he is hopeful Elgin can find the solution to break them down.
Price added: “I know Gary well from his time as Edinburgh City manager.
“I watched their game last Tuesday against Cumbernauld Colts. They are a team that don’t concede a lot of goals – you can see that from the league.
“Even in games against the likes of Kelty Hearts or East Stirling, they have just lost by the odd goal. They are very well organised.
“They will be hard to break down, but we’ve got to go into the game as favourites.
“We’ve got to approach the game in a positive manner and hopefully get through to the next round.”
Elgin maintained second place in League Two with a 2-0 triumph over Stenhousemuir last weekend, meaning they go into today’s match having won four of their last five league matches.
Today’s game will mark the return of closed-door action to Borough Briggs following the tightening of Covid-19 restrictions in Moray, with the Black and Whites having hosted 220 fans at their last three home matches.
Price is hopeful his side can still make the most of home advantage despite the lack of supporters, adding: “I hope we can use home advantage. If we can get playing the way we can, hopefully we will put on a good performance.”
New signing Tony Dingwall could once again feature after coming off the bench in last weekend’s victory over Stenny.