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Matthew Cooper determined to help Elgin City blast back to form next season

Elgin City defender Matthew Cooper in action against Kelty Hearts.
Elgin City defender Matthew Cooper, right, in action against Kelty Hearts.

Matthew Cooper insists Elgin City are already plotting for next season to ensure they return to role of promotion chasers in League 2.

The Moray club will move up one spot into eighth position if they win at Albion Rovers on Saturday, but they are not in contention for the play-offs, having reached the top four in recent years.

Against three of the teams in the top four, Elgin have more than held their own. Annan are the only side they have failed to beat this term from the current leading group.

They took half of the available points against champions Kelty Hearts, and the same against third-and fourth-placed Forfar Athletic and Edinburgh City.

However, a lack of consistency and poor form at key times has been costly as they’ve toiled nearer the foot of the table than the upper reaches.

Early pre-season planned for Elgin

Defender Cooper, who is under contract at Elgin until 2024, is determined to play his part in driving the club back to where it should be.

He said: “We showed last season that we’re a top four side in League 2 and there hasn’t been much difference – the bulk of the squad remained the same.

“We know what we’re capable of. Although we’ve had injuries and Covid to deal with, it’s still no excuse. We’ve still been able to field a good team every week.

“It’s frustrating we didn’t pick up the points earlier in the season to give us a chance of making the play-offs.

“I have spoken to the manager about where we are and how we can improve next season.

“We’re planning to get in early and get a good pre-season. Our pre-season last year was affected by Covid, which affected us massively when you are chasing fitness.

“Boys then pick up injuries because of that as you’re maybe a few weeks behind everyone else.

“It’s important we go at it off-season to hit the ground running. I’m sure the gaffer will take a few players in and a few will go out, although we’ve the majority of the squad signed up.

“I’m sure we’ll be raring to go. Ideally, we can get everyone in for pre-season and it allows the new players to get their bearings and learn how we play.”

Season has not been good enough

Cooper said former Elgin boss Jim Weir, who has come in to assist until the end of the season, has driven home the message of how good the team are faring against the best in the division.

He added: “Jim has been stressing to us how well we’ve performed against the top four sides. There has been nothing between us and them and he’s amazed by such a big points difference.

“As players, we know it has not been good enough, given the squad we have. We have shown what we can do against the teams in and around the play-offs.

“Our record against (champions) Kelty has also been really good.

“We’ve been on a decent run, but it’s unfortunately not going to lead to us being in the play-offs.”

Horror run against Edinburgh ends

At the 15th time of asking, Elgin got the better of Edinburgh City, when early Josh Peters and Kane Hester goals secured a 2-0 win at Borough Briggs on Saturday.

Cooper admits it was a great feeling to finally see off their capital opponents, who knocked them out of the promotion play-offs last term.

He said: “It had been a long time coming. We had a bee in our bonnet about not having beaten them for so long.

“Saturday was massive for us. We got the two-goal lead and they went down to 10 men, so it was important we kept at it.

Elgin City manager Gavin Price has been calling for better starts from his men.

“The gaffer had stressed how we have to start games better. For three-quarters of the season, it hasn’t been good enough.

“We went through a spell where we were conceding in the first five to 10 minutes every week.

“Especially at home, we have to capitalise on teams having to make the long journey up the road. That start we make is so important as to how we go on and play.

“We have improved on that in recent weeks and Saturday was another example of that.”

The result also pushed Elgin 12 points away from rock-bottom Cowdenbeath, putting to bed any fears the club would be dragged into the relegation play-off position.

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