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Elgin City midfielder Rory MacEwan aims to help drive club back up League 2 next season

Rory MacEwan (right) scoring for Elgin City against Clydebank in the Scottish Cup this season,
Rory MacEwan (right) scoring for Elgin City against Clydebank in the Scottish Cup this season,

Rory MacEwan insists Elgin City’s brush with the foot of League 2 is warning enough they need to blast back to their full potential next term.

The midfielder, who last week signed a deal extension keeping him at his local club until 2024, is determined to help kick the club forward after spending too long near the wrong end of the table.

In recent years, Elgin have contested the promotion play-offs, but they were not safe from this term’s relegation play-off until Saturday – when MacEwan scored in a 2-0 win at Stirling Albion.

The victory lifted City to eighth spot above Albion Rovers, making it impossible for basement side Cowdenbeath to catch them in the last two matches.

Two season-ending wins could see Elgin finish sixth in the table, depending on results elsewhere.

Improvement needed from the start

MacEwan, who recently made his 100th appearance in City colours, explained there’s a real desire to ensure they don’t find themselves involved in another dog-fight in 2022/23.

He said: “We’ve been good enough this season and had some really bad spells where we lost several games in a row.

“Nobody in this squad wants to find ourselves down where we’ve been in this league.

“We’ve had games where we’ve conceded sloppy goals and been up against it for long periods in games.

“Other times, we’ve pressed forward and lost another goal and the match has been done.

“If we can cut out sloppy errors and take advantage against the teams around us, which I don’t think we’ve done enough, I am sure that will see us rise up the table next year.”

Pre-season can be crucial for Elgin

Elgin took points and wins against top-four sides Kelty, Forfar Athletic and Edinburgh City, while running Annan Athletic close, and that suggests there’s no lack of quality at the club.

However, MacEwan feels they need to find a level of consistency in order to kick back into promotion contention.

Elgin City manager Gavin Price.

He said: “The defeat to Stenhousemuir last week was a bit of a blip, but in the six weeks before that we played the top four and took points off three of them and narrowly lost against Annan when we probably should have taken something.

“It shows the level we’re at – we’ve just not had the consistency.

“If we can get a good pre-season then we know we can push near the top and be right up there.”

Level playing field in 2022/23?

Kelty Hearts were the convincing champions this season, following on from Cove Rangers and Queen’s Park going up without too much fuss in 2020 and 2021.

MacEwan hopes next season’s newcomers, should basement side Cowdenbeath lose the play-offs against Fraserburgh or Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic, won’t have the financial muscle to win the title so easily.

He said: “For three years in a row, we’ve had clubs in Cove, Queen’s Park and Kelty who have bank-rolled their way to winning the league. There is no competing with the money they’re spending.

“As it stands, there appears like there will be no stand-out team with lots of money, so hopefully it will be a more even playing field and be a much better league for everyone.”

MacEwan eager to get more starts

MacEwan, who said signing his new contract was an “easy decision”, is keen to secure more game time before the end of the season and into next term, although he accepts the midfield is a competitive area.

He said: “I have been on the bench a lot lately and not been playing much. That’s always frustrating as you always feel you could help the team.

Midfielder Rory MacEwan, right, with Elgin City assistant manager after recently making his 100th appearance for the Moray club.

“It is competitive to get a start in midfield. You need to bide your time.

“When I came out of the team, we started a good run of form, so I couldn’t really complain. It’s just a case of waiting for the chance.”

Price eager to keep group together

MacEwan reckons keeping the familiar faces at Elgin can provide a strong foundation to kick on from July.

He added: “The manager is trying to keep as many of the group together for next season.

“For two or three years now, we’ve largely had the same squad. I know this season hasn’t been our best, but we are all fighting for the same thing and are all really motivated.”

Elgin have two games to go this season. On Saturday, they complete their home campaign against Cowdenbeath, seven days before visiting Stranraer.

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