Steven Mackay insists Elgin City will take a front-foot approach against unbeaten League Two pace-setters Kelty Hearts next week.
The Black and Whites assistant manager, boosted by the team’s bold display in a 1-1 draw with Edinburgh City on November 23, is sure they can get a positive result in Tuesday’s rearranged clash in Moray.
Elgin Sports Community Trust will be hosting our friendly this Saturday vs Strathspey Thistle FC at the Gleaner Arena ⚽️
Supporters are welcome to attend FOC and refreshments will be available 🖤
Our Sports Bar will also be open from 12-8pm pic.twitter.com/iHO5rOeSSN
— Elgin City F.C. (@ElginCityFC) December 1, 2021
Elgin have come the closest to beating Kelty in the league this season. In September, the Fifers needed a stoppage-time Kallum Higginbotham goal to prevent Archie MacPhee’s penalty winning the game for the visitors.
The sides were due to lock horns at Borough Briggs this Saturday, but Kelty’s 0-0 Scottish Cup draw with League One Montrose means they are in replay action.
Ninth-placed Elgin, who are three points behind Stranraer, are eager to return to action to try and get wins to kick on up the table.
Keeping shape, with added bite
Having run Kelty so close earlier this season, the Moray side have belief they can ask questions of the league’s best team.
Former Brora manager Mackay, whose team were beaten by Kelty in the promotion play-offs last term, felt Elgin’s defensive part of their game was spot-on that day.
However, he expects City to test their opponents at the other end as well next week.
He said: “We were 30 seconds away from beating Kelty, so it was frustrating that we came so close without seeing the game out.
“That said, they did put us under real pressure for large parts of the game. The most pleasing thing that day was how well we defended collectively.
“We will look to replicate that on Tuesday, by keeping a good shape. We won’t be as defensive as we were down there.
“There is no denying Kelty are an exceptional team and are, quite rightly, sitting top of the league.
“They have threats, but at home we can be more aggressive and positive and, if we can get our shape and discipline right again, then there is no reason why we can’t get a positive result.”
Wilson can kick on after first goal
Mackay believes having main striker Kane Hester free from suspension alongside on-loan Falkirk forward Jaime Wilson, who scored against Edinburgh, is an appealing prospect.
It was Wilson’s first goal since joining Elgin earlier this season and former striker Mackay knows confidence can help the 23-year-old Invernessian kick on.
He said: “It’s great to have Kane back next week and Jaime got his first goal against Edinburgh and it will be great to see how those two could potentially link up.
“As a striker, you want to get goals, especially when you go on loan or arrive at a new club. You want to get off the mark early.
“Jaime works really hard and his performance was really good. We told him at half-time, to keep his head up and he’ll get another chance.
“He missed a chance in the first half and, I’ve been there myself, you go through barren spells and you need to keep working hard and another chance will come and he took his goal really well.
“Getting the goal is a weight off your shoulders and it can boost your confidence. Hopefully Jaime can kick on now and add to that goal.”
After training on Thursday night, Mackay confirmed midfielders Russell Dingwall and Ross Draper, who is on loan from Cove Rangers, are fit and available for next week.
Midfielder Brian Cameron, who suffered a knee injury in the second half against Edinburgh, is awaiting scan results, but is expected to be sidelined for several weeks at least.
After facing Kelty, Elgin will turn their attention to their weekend trip to mid-table Annan Athletic.
Side to shape up against Strathspey
To give players some form of action, aided by the Elgin Sports Community Trust, City will take on Highland League side Strathspey Thistle at the Gleaner Arena pitches next to the stadium at noon on Saturday.
There is also a question and answer session for hospitality guests with the management set for 3pm.
Players will get vital game time
Mackay is delighted for the team to have the friendly against Strathspey, which is useful after having last weekend off and even training cancelled by the weather.
He added: “We’ll play on the astroturf to get some more minutes for the players. It’s a good opportunity to give everyone game time.
“We will rotate it between 45 and 60 minutes for some players. It has been quite an awkward period with games being postponed when we’re looking to get a bit of momentum.
“We played so well against Edinburgh when we deserved to win it and that has been the story of our season. There have been many games where, in terms of possession and chances, we’ve been on top.
“We all know that the most important thing is to hit the back of the net and we’ve not been able to do that.
“We created enough chances to win the game and when you get a performance like that you are desperate for the next game when you hope you can maintain the momentum as well as finding the clinical edge at the top end of the park.”