Assistant manager Steven Mackay reckons Elgin City’s young squad must swiftly find a level of consistency or continue to toil this season.
Top of the agenda for Elgin is seeing off West of Scotland Premier Division high-fliers Clydebank at home on Saturday in the Scottish Cup replay following Monday’s pulsating 1-1 draw at Holm Park.
In the second round tie, beamed nationwide on BBC Scotland, Rory MacEwan’s fine strike was deservedly wiped out by an ice-cool Ricky Little penalty in the second half.
It means Elgin, who have slipped to second bottom of League Two after just one win in their last nine games, will face a determined Bankies side eager to cause an even bigger upset by winning in Moray.
Second goal would have killed tie
The victors will host League One toilers Clyde on November 27 in the third round, but Mackay felt the tie encapsulated the way Elgin’s levels rise and dip within matches.
He said: “We started the game as well as we could have hoped. You could have heard a pin drop around the ground, given how well we started.
“Had we got the second goal, it might have been too much for Clydebank, but while it was 1-0, we knew they would throw everything at us. That’s what they did.
SCOTTISH CUP 🏆
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We need your support this Saturday for this crucial Scottish Cup Clash 🖤 pic.twitter.com/nQvAh6DeQd
— Elgin City F.C. (@ElginCityFC) October 26, 2021
“We struggled to deal with the pressure they put on. There is even an argument that Clydebank could have nicked it, but overall I felt a draw was fair and hopefully we can finish the job on Saturday.
“We have seen glimpses of exceptional play from us. Monday summed up our season so far. It really was a Jekyll and Hyde performance.
“In the first 30-35 minutes, it was probably the best we’ve played, certainly since I’ve been involved. On the flip side, the second half was the worst we’ve been, so we need to get more consistency. We need to be able to deal with set-backs and pressure in games a little bit better.”
Players are still developing at Elgin
While boss Gavin Price and Mackay, who joined City as his assistant in August, aim to improve performances, the former Brora manager insists the young squad are still developing.
He added: “We do have a young team and sometimes that can be forgotten. In the age profile of our team, there are not many boys aged 27 upwards. Most are early-to-mid-20s.
“We spoke after Monday’s game about the need to take all the good parts from our performance as well as the good things we have done in previous games and put together a more consistent performance, otherwise we are always going to give ourselves a battle.
“If we don’t keep our shape and discipline then we’ll always concede goals and that is tough for us.”
Borough Briggs fans can raise roof
Bankies supporters were booking buses to Moray within minutes of the final whistle on Monday as their excitement for a club back in the limelight reached fever pitch.
The club reformed as juniors in 2003 after previously going out of business, so this is the West Dunbartonshire side’s first involvement in the Scottish Cup for two decades.
Mackay expects another lively afternoon when they replay this weekend, but ultimately he is eager for Elgin to see off their impressive opponents.
He said: “The Clydebank fans were exceptional. It was a great atmosphere and a great occasion. Hopefully it came across well on TV.
“Equally, there will be a really good atmosphere at Borough Briggs. I am sure our fans will turn out in their droves and it will be good to have the Clydebank fans there too.
“The atmosphere we had for the Caley Thistle SPFL Trust Trophy tie recently was excellent. There is a lure of a home tie against Clyde for the winners, so we will be focused on that to hopefully put a good cup run together, starting on Saturday.”
Loan trio miss out on action
The down side of bringing in experienced players on loan means they can’t play in cups otherwise they’d be ruled out of the competition when they return to their parent clubs.
That means Ross County Tom Grivosti, Cove Rangers midfielder Ross Draper and Falkirk forward Jaime Wilson are again unavailable for Elgin this weekend.
Mackay said: “Tom and Ross are on loan from their parent clubs, who are obviously not keen on them being cup-tied. They were not involved because they can’t be tied up for this competition when they return to their clubs.
“It is disappointing to not have them involved because they are experienced players, but they won’t be involved in Saturday.
“We also have Jaime Wilson on loan from Falkirk and the way the fixtures have landed have meant he was cup-tied for the match against Caley Thistle and he also can’t play in the Scottish Cup, so he has not been able to get a run of games.
“It will be good for Jaime to get a run of games under his belt soon. We can get him up to speed before welcoming Kane Hester back as well.”
Injured Hester plays waiting game
Elgin’s main striker Hester has been out since mid-September with a hamstring injury and it will be into next month before the forward, with seven goals this term, pushes for a return.
Mackay explained it’s a waiting game for the lethal 26-year-old, who has scored 19 goals in each of the last two seasons.
He said: “Kane is waiting patiently on the sidelines. It is one of these injuries where you can’t do an awful lot. He’s had a lot of rest and is also doing a lot of gym work.
“We hope it will only be a few more weeks before we can get him back because we have missed him. He is a massive player for us. With the way we play, having Kane involved is key for us. We look forward to having him back.”
- Elgin City’s League Two fixture at home to Edinburgh City, which was due to be played on Saturday, has been moved to Tuesday, November 23, with a 7.45pm kick-off.