Boss Gavin Price backs his improving Elgin City side to kick off the new year on the front foot when they host title-contenders Forfar Athletic on Sunday.
Elgin, who are 10th in League Two, were not in Boxing Day action, but Forfar blew the chance of slicing the gap on leaders Kelty Hearts to four points.
In their earlier kick-off, Kelty lost their long unbeaten run when they were crushed 5-1 at Annan Athletic, not helped by playing the second half with 10 men after a red card for defender Jordon Forster.
INFO FOR MATCH VS @ForfarAthletic
We host Forfar this coming Sunday under new government guidelines 🖤
All info can be found on this link https://t.co/ayveQUXaaI
See you soon 🤩 pic.twitter.com/mS7nqSb5Rz
— Elgin City F.C. (@ElginCityFC) December 29, 2021
The rout brought the Maroon Machine’s tag of being Britain’s only unbeaten team this season in the senior leagues to a shuddering halt.
That shock outcome also offered second-placed Forfar the opportunity to close the gap, albeit having played one match more.
However, with several key men missing, the Loons slipped to a 4-3 loss at home to Stenhousemuir.
Albion Rovers’ last-gasp 3-2 victory against Stenhousemuir hauled them four points away from Elgin City at the other end of the table.
It ended in a 1-1 draw when Forfar and Elgin met in Moray in August, while Gary Irvine’s team edged to a 2-1 win when the sides locked horns at Station Park in November.
Nothing between ninth and second
Elgin manager Price believes his side, who beat Stirling Albion 1-0 last Tuesday, will go in fearless against Forfar on Sunday.
He said: “Our two games against Forfar have been extremely close – there has been nothing in it.
“I believe that we’re far better than the ninth and second place positions the respective sides are in for this game.
“Forfar are a good side, but results such as Boxing Day were not a massive surprise to me because anybody can beat anybody in this league.
“Kelty are slightly stronger, but even they lost on Sunday. I wouldn’t see it as a massive shock if we were to take something against Forfar.”
Great to edge close contest in Stirling
Elgin’s win at Stirling pushed them Black and Whites seven points ahead of bottom-placed Cowdenbeath, who lost 2-1 against Edinburgh City 24 hours later.
Price was thrilled to bag the points thanks to a goal from Angus Mailer in the second half.
He said: “It was a tight game, but we probably created the better chances.
“It was important to get the win. We’ve played better and got nothing from some games this season, so it was great to come out on the right side of it.”
Teenager Allen has bright future
Starlet Fin Allen (17) was handed his first competitive start in an Elgin shirt last week and the manager says fans should expect to see more of him throughout the season.
He said: “It was a well deserved start for Fin, who is improving all the time.
A great moment for youngster & local lad Fin Allen last night as he made his first competitive start at the age of 17.
He played 65 minutes in our win over Stirling Albion last night.
I'm sure there are many more to come! 🤍⚽ pic.twitter.com/fTbNIxAA5e
— Elgin City F.C. (@ElginCityFC) December 22, 2021
“We will keep bleeding him into the team over the next few months and I’d imagine over the long-term he will be a regular in the team.
“We won’t put too much pressure on him, but it’s testament to him that in the pressure games like last week I had enough confidence to put him in.”
Some Borough Briggs fans miss out
Elgin, meanwhile, will be allowing up to 500 supporters into Borough Briggs during the current three-week Covid-related attendance cap.
City’s average attendance in League Two last season was 635, which was only beaten by champions Cove Rangers’ tally of 764.
Price is disappointed some Elgin supporters might not get to see their team live during this immediate period.
He said: “We should have 500 fans at Borough Briggs. We are one of the best-supported teams in part-time football, more so when we’re doing well and the top end of the league.
“We’ve been quite unlucky with Covid over the last two seasons where we’ve not had the full benefit of our fans.
“Hopefully we’ll turn a corner soon and we’re also not a million miles away from being in a better position in the league, so we will keep working on what we’re doing.”
Price has a few selection concerns at the midway point of the week, but remains hopeful, by the time Sunday comes, he can field as strong a team as possible against the Loons.