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Ross Draper insists 19-goal Kane Hester is hitting new heights with focused Elgin City

Elgin City defender Ross Draper. Image: Bob Crombie
Elgin City's Ross Draper. Image: Bob Crombie

Ross Draper reckons Elgin City are lucky to have Kane Hester – and admits the searing-hot striker will be central to their promotion push in League 2.

Former Inverness and Ross County star Draper, who joined from Cove Rangers last month, has helped the Black and Whites turn from early toilers to top-four contenders.

The Scottish Cup-winner, who plays in the heart of the Elgin defence, has been impressed as main man Hester has hit 19 goals so early in the season.

He scored all the goals in Saturday’s 4-0 Scottish Cup second-round win against East of Scotland League First Division visitors Camelon Juniors. He recently also scored four times in a 5-1 league rout against Annan Athletic.

Kane Hester scoring one of his four goals in a recent League 2 clash against Annan Athletic, which ended 5-1. Image: Bob Crombie

City will continue to create for Hester

Hester, 27, signed a two-year contract extension in August, and Draper reckons Elgin are benefiting from having a forward in peak form.

He said: “Kane is on fire and, if we can continue to supply him with passes, he will have a big impact on how our season goes.

“To get 19 goals before Halloween really is scary. He’s honest and he works so hard for the team.

“He’s very much a focal point for us. I’ve noticed a difference in him this season. He’s come back flying and mentally he’s bang on it.

“Goals breed confidence and he’s a confident player. Everything he’s hitting at the minute is going in.

“If we can find a way to support him, to get the service to him, he is such an asset in this league.

“Any other team would want Kane and we’re lucky to have him. We’ll use him for as long as we’ve got him.

“I don’t expect him to be at Elgin for years and years.

“Hopefully, he can continue to be a big asset to this club. He’s firing on all cylinders.”

Screamer at Stranraer oozed class

Draper has been impressed with speedy Hester displaying such a range of goals, which is leaving their rivals spinning.

He said: “He’s such a good finisher. He scores all types of goals – the first one he scored at Stranraer this month was incredible.

“It was ‘touch-touch-bang’ then it was in the back of the net from a tight angle. I’m not sure many players in this league could have scored that.

“If we can continue to do the defensive side of the game well, as we’ve done, we’ve always got a chance to win games with Kane in our team.

“If we can supply the balls he needs, there’s no reason why Kane can’t go on to score at least 30-35 goals this season. Long may it continue.”

Managerial appointment at Fifers

Since Draper – who was on loan at Elgin last term – has returned, City have won six of eight games, with their only slip-up being a 1-0 loss against Forfar Athletic.

Strong form has driven them to fifth spot, to within one point of Saturday’s hosts East Fife and Stenhousemuir. Front-runners Stirling Albion and Dumbarton are seven points ahead of Elgin.

East Fife have made assistant, and recent caretaker, manager Greig MacDonald their new boss following the departure of Stevie Crawford to Dundee United.

With back-to-back away games at New Bayview and Bonnyrigg Rose now facing Elgin, Draper said the players will remain confident after strong form as they bid to add to their tally of 16 points.

He said: “It’s never easy to take on a team who have just had a change of manager. East Fife will expect to have a bounce from that.

“They are sitting just one point above us. We know it will be a tough task, but that’s something we relish. We’re going there with confidence.

“The Forfar game apart, we’ve been on a really strong run. It was nice to get a four-goal win on Saturday, regardless of the opposition. It breeds confidence and the boys are on fire.

“Going to places like East Fife and Bonnyrigg are big tests. In recent years, the club might not have won at the grounds, so these games will show where we’re at in terms of longevity for the season.”

Cup runs also high on Elgin’s agenda

Elgin’s prize for beating Camelon in the Scottish Cup is a third-round away tie against East of Scotland League Premier Division side Hill of Beath Hawthorn on November 26.

Draper, whose side are also in the last-16 of the SPFL Trust with a December 10 tie against Clyde to come, believes there’s a determination from everyone at City to go deep into the cup competitions.

He added: “The cups are really important to the club. It’s the same for the players – all the boys want to play in the Scottish Cup. We want to play in good games.

“In the next round, we’ve another tie against lower league opponents. We will set out to break Hill of Beath Hawthorn down and it will be a completely different type of game again for us, especially away from home.

“It’s another test for the boys, but hopefully we can come out on top of.

“We all want a decent cup run, but we’ve got a number of important league games to go before that.”