Elgin City have gained a double selection boost ahead of their crunch League Two game at home to Stenhousemuir on Saturday.
Assistant manager Steven Mackay confirmed on-loan Cove Rangers midfielder Ross Draper and skipper Euan Spark are in contention to start at Borough Briggs as second-bottom City seek to start climbing the table.
Last weekend’s 4-1 defeat at Annan Athletic leaves the Moray men sweating ahead of this Saturday’s game against Stenny, which is followed on Tuesday with a trip to Stirling Albion.
Stenny and Stirling are sitting seventh and sixth, respectively, and Elgin, with just one win in 10 fixtures in all competitions, urgently need a pre-Christmas lift.
They are only four points ahead of rock-bottom Cowdenbeath, albeit with a match in hand. Elgin are also four points behind Albion Rovers and a further two adrift of visitors Stenny, who they beat away on September 25.
Two crunch games within four days
Mackay is delighted to have two key men back in contention and is in no doubt about how quickly Elgin have to reel in those teams above them.
He said: “We certainly don’t want Stenhousemuir or Stirling to pull further away from us.
“These are two really important games for us where we’re looking to be taking something from, but ultimately to win.
“They won’t be easy. Every match in this league is tight.
“Hopefully we can get a good performance on Saturday, take our chances when they present themselves, get some confidence and look forward to Tuesday. Hopefully we will be in a better position after these two games.
“Ross Draper will be back and available. He was on the bench at the weekend. We were not quite confident he’d be ready to play, but he will be fine for Saturday.
“We also have Euan Spark back from suspension, so these are two massive additions to the squad.”
Elgin must be more clinical – Mackay
Mackay reckons there is so little between most League Two teams there is no reason why Elgin can’t take heart from a run their visitors embarked on after their last meeting as they bid to improve results.
He added: “We need to learn from the weekend and we need to pick up points.
“Our performances up until the weekend were really positive. We’re looking forward to the Stenhousemuir game.
“When we beat them 2-1 in September, it was a catalyst for them as they won five consecutive games. It shows that can be done in this league.
“I still maintain, outwith Kelty Hearts, it’s still very close in terms of teams performing on the day. We were maybe lucky when we won away to Stenhousemuir, but we can still use the win as a positive.
“We need to be more clinical up top and take our chances.”
Slack defending so costly at Annan
Mackay admits the group were bitterly disappointed that, despite taking an early lead through Matthew Cooper, they slipped to a 4-1 loss at Annan on Saturday.
The former Brora boss felt the players didn’t perform as well as they have been in what was their first game since drawing 1-1 with Edinburgh City on November 23.
He said: “We started exactly as we’d planned and we were quite happy with how the first half was shaping up.
“We got our goal and looked good, but we were disappointed to lose the equaliser in the manner we did. It could have been defended better and their runners tracked.
“When we looked back at the highlights, it was clear we didn’t defend it well.
“Yet, even at half-time, we felt we were still firmly in the game (at 1-1). We were comfortable with our shape and thought we’d go on and create more chances.
“However, when we lost the second goal, we lost our shape and lost our way, which was disappointing and frustrating. We lost the third goal soon after conceding the second and the game was almost done at that point.
“That was tough. You’ll have spells where you’re not the dominant team and you’re under pressure. We didn’t handle that very well. It was a really disappointing day.”
Forfar Athletic first up in New Year
After taking on Stenny and Stirling, Elgin kick off 2022 at home to in-form and second-placed Forfar Athletic on January 2, which is five days before a Friday night trip to Edinburgh City.
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