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Gavin Price hails ‘faultless’ Elgin City after 4-0 SPFL Trust Trophy win over Peterhead – while Jim McInally labels Blue Toon showing ‘unacceptable’

Russell Dingwall celebrates after curling home Elgin City's opener against Peterhead.
Russell Dingwall celebrates after curling home Elgin City's opener against Peterhead.

Elgin City boss Gavin Price thought his “faultless” side’s impressive 4-0 win over Peterhead in the SPFL Trust Trophy was the culmination of weeks of positive performances.

Now Price wants to see City put in the same manner of devastating display against Annan Athletic next weekend as the Borough Briggs men look to climb League Two.

Two goals in each half at Balmoor – from Russell Dingwall, Kane Hester, Dylan Lawrence and Angus Mailer – saw Elgin put the Blue Toon, who are a division above Elgin, to the sword and claim a place in the fourth round of the Challenge Cup.

Price, who has now watched his team lose just once in nine outings, said: “It was a pretty faultless performance in terms of keeping a clean sheet, we created a lot of opportunities in the game (and) the work-rate was fantastic.

“I’ve felt over the last few weeks the performance has been coming. We put everything together on Saturday and thoroughly deserved the win.

“We were excellent in spells against Stenhousemuir (3-3 in their last league outing), scored three goals against a very good side, and beat Bonnyrigg the week before that.

“It’s been frustrating the draws in the league, but we’ve certainly been playing well enough which should warrant us being higher up the league table.

“We’ve got to translate that performance into the next league game against Annan.

“If we can replicate Saturday, we’ll win more games than we don’t.”

Gavin Price.

Peterhead had won all seven prior competitive meetings during Price’s Elgin tenure.

Before kick-off, the Black and Whites gaffer had spoken about his view a sustained Challenge Cup run could feed into currently eighth-placed Elgin’s league results, and he added: “It’s good we’re in the hat for it. We’ve come through three tough games and we’ll see who we get in the next round and look forward to that.

“But the league’s most important – we need to get points on the board and do it quickly.”

Angus Mailer, left, celebrates with his teammates after scoring Elgin’s fourth goal. 

Peterhead went into Saturday’s third round clash also feeling good about themselves, following their 3-1 victory against Kelty Hearts – their first of the League One season.

However, the home side were without Robbie McGale (dislocated shoulder), Aberdeen loan goalkeeper Tom Ritchie (cup tied) and Ryan Dow (Achilles), while Loran Venrooy and Enock Walusimbi are still waiting for work permits.

Elgin were without skipper Matthew Cooper due to a knee problem.

The opening period at Balmoor was, at times, breathless.

On nine minutes, the visitors opened the scoring when Russell Dingwall curled a left-footed shot from the right side of the box perfectly into the far top corner beyond Peterhead keeper Sandy Wood.

The rattled Blue Toon didn’t threaten an equaliser until 19 minutes, Daniel Hoban denying both ex-Elgin player Conor O’Keefe and Jack Wilkie from point-blank range.

Four minutes later, Wilkie and O’Keefe combined down the left after Dingwall played a loose pass for Elgin in midfield, but Hoban made a brilliant low stop to turn left-back Wilkie’s cross-goal strike round the far post.

Chances were flowing freely at both ends, but Elgin scored their second on 35 minutes. Lawrence nipped in to nick the ball from the Blue Toon’s flat-footed midfield, before playing in Hester to clip beyond a helpless Wood.

Kane Hester made it 2-0 to Elgin against Peterhead.

At half-time, Peterhead boss Jim McInally rejigged the players in his midfield diamond – reflecting the supremacy of Dingwall, Mailer and Brian Cameron in the middle of the park. To facilitate this, Paul Dixon and Prince Asare made way for Chris Kisuka and Jordon Brown.

Elgin were content to pick their moments in the second period, and this compact approach meant the Blue Toon didn’t manage to create a single opening after the interval, while City had several chances – many which fell to Hester – to add to their tally with rapid breaks forward.

On 69 minutes, it was 3-0. Lewis Nicolson burst into the Blue Toon box on the left. His shot looped off goalie Wood, but, when the ball dropped, Lawrence was on hand to nod it into the bottom right corner of the net.

With five minutes to play, Mailer slotted home through a sea of bodies for number four as dominant Elgin strolled their way into the next round.

Peterhead boss Jim McInally thought his side totally lost their way after being denied by Hoban numerous times at 1-0 in the first half, labelling the performance in the second period “unacceptable”.

Elgin’s Ross Draper challengees Peterhead’s Ryan Strachan. 

McInally said: “The second half started, Elgin had a nice shape to them, they were two up and really we had to play through them – and we weren’t good enough to play through them. They counter-attacked us really well and found loads of space to play in.

“Disappointing, but two home games – and if you’d gave me one to win, I’d have chose last week (v Kelty).”

Cup exit aside, Peterhead’s win last weekend means next Saturday’s East End Park meeting with League One table-toppers Dunfermline could allow the rock-bottom Blue Toon to haul themselves above Kelty in the standings.

McInally should be helped in shoring up his side for the trip by more bodies being available – but he issued a warning to some of the players who took to the field on Saturday.

Peterhead manager Jim McInally
Peterhead manager Jim McInally

He said: “Ryan Dow will be back next week, but we just need to wait and see – and hope.

“There’s a chance there’s another boy, a midfield player, who is going to be in next week, so hopefully we can just freshen it up a wee bit.

“We’ll get them training Tuesday and Thursday and get them organised for next Saturday, where we’ve got a really tough game with Dunfermline.

“There are bodies going to be coming in here and they need to be up for the challenge. Some of them look as though they’ve maybe accepted they’re going to lose their place, and that’s the disappointing thing.”