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Trialists in spotlight as Elgin City seek to bolster squad in time for Kelty Hearts clash

Elgin City manager Gavin Price gives instructions to his players
Elgin City manager Gavin Price.

Elgin City boss Gavin Price will run the rule over trialists on Thursday night – with two defenders and striker on his wanted list.

The League 2 side, who return to action next Tuesday against leaders Kelty Hearts, have been active in the winter window, with a hat-trick of loan announcements.

They have brought in young Aberdeen duo, defender Evan Towler and attacking midfielder Kevin Hanratty, while experienced Cove Rangers midfielder Ross Draper extended his stay until the end of the term. Middle man Rabin Omar has also returned on a deal until the end of the campaign, having been a free agent.

Saturday’s 1-1 home league draw against Albion Rovers highlighted the need for more reinforcements by the end of the window, with the team eighth in the table but just five behind fourth spot.

Trialists getting chances to win deals

Price is hopeful there will be more new recruits in time to face runaway pace-setters Kelty next week.

He said: “We could still try and get a defender or two in and we could still do with another striker.

Elgin City striker Kane Hester scored a penalty and had one saved in the 1-1 draw with Albion Rovers on Saturday.

“We have a closed-door game on Thursday night when we’ll have a couple of trialists with us.

“It could be we could have a player or two in for Tuesday and that’s certainly what we’re working hard to do.”

Price to take in Kelty v Saints’ cup tie

While Elgin have the weekend off on Scottish Cup weekend, Kelty have the chance to try to knock out holders St Johnstone, who are in the midst of an alarming patch of form.

The Perth Saints’ 2-0 loss at Hearts in midweek made it nine successive defeats for Callum Davidson’s shell-shocked side. They are rock-bottom of the Premiership, two points behind Dundee and seven points behind resurgent Ross County.

A short trip to tackle a Kelty side with just one league loss to their name won’t fill them with anything other than dread.

Price will be there to see how League 2’s likely champions fare, with a February 5 away game against them also in mind.

Elgin’s Darryl McHardy battles for the ball with Kelty’s Alfredo Agyeman earlier this season.

The City boss said: “It’s a big occasion for Kelty as they try to cause an upset. We’ll go and watch the game as we actually play Kelty twice within the matter of 10 days.

“We have a tough schedule in front of us.

“Kelty are clearly a good side, but we can take heart from almost winning the game down there in September. We will back ourselves to get something from these games.”

Draws damaging promotion push

While Price is satisfied by a marked improvement in results since late November, he’s also frustrated not to have already replaced Edinburgh City as the fourth-best team in the league and worked their way into the promotion play-off spots.

The Black and Whites have drawn four of their last seven fixtures, losing only once.

The Borough Briggs boss is eager to see his fired-up team make and take their chances to come out on top in close contests.

He added: “We’re in a much healthier position in terms of our squad, but we’re not scoring enough goals at the moment. That is something we need to work on.

“It’s now five or six weeks since we lost a game, so we’re showing improved form.

Elgin City manager Gavin Price.

“I’m also mindful that, at home, we need to pick up more victories. We have more draws than any other side in the league and that can, ultimately, cost you at the end of the season.

“If we could have transformed three or four of these home draws into wins then, we could well already be in that top four position.

“We don’t have too many more chances in the second half of the season. We’ve got to get it right.”

After Tuesday’s Kelty match, Elgin are away to mid-table Stenhousemuir a week on Saturday, before taking on Kelty for the penultimate time this season.

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