Elgin City manager Barry Smith is calling on his side to start on the front foot against Peterhead.
The Blue Toon are chasing their third League Two win on the spin and fourth victory overall this weekend.
They face an Elgin team looking to bounce back from a 2-1 league loss against Clyde at New Douglas Park.
It was a result which drew the sides level on five points in ninth and 10th positions, with Elgin ahead only on goals scored. East Fife and Forfar Athletic are just one and two points in front.
A poor first half was followed by an Erik Sula’s own goal, which brought City back into the contest. However, a missed spot-kick by Russell Dingwall denied them the draw.
This was only Smith’s third game in charge after taking over from player/manager Ross Draper.
Smith said: “We need to raise the bar again for the players. We ask them to start the game the way they started the second half last week – on the front foot.
“We just need to give a full performance as we did against Dumbarton two weeks ago and in the second half against Clyde.
“Peterhead are one of the teams up there, looking to get promoted.
“They probably are one of the favourites. Every game is a challenge in this league.
“It is always tough going to Balmoor, so there will be no surprises there.”
Side taking on board Smith’s advice
Smith is at pains to point out that improvement for last season’s ninth-placed finishers will not come overnight.
He said: “As I said after we beat Dumbarton, there is a lot of hard work still to be done.
“The good thing for me is the boys are buying into it and working hard to it. We changed it in the second half against Clyde. The players are listening and trying to do what has been asked of them.
“These players have given me an insight into what they are capable of. We just need to get that in a more consistent basis.”
Dangerous crosses can pay off
And Smith wants his team to gamble more by firing telling crosses into their opponents penalty area, as last week’s proved it can be fruitful.
He added: “We were disappointed with how we started the game against Clyde. That just wasn’t like what I have seen from the team since I have come in.
“But I have to give credit to the players for their second half reaction. The least we deserved was a point.
“In the second half, we were on the front foot. The defenders played higher up the pitch, allowing the midfielders to go and press and get balls into the box, which caused problems for Clyde.
“We got our goal and the penalty from balls going into the box. We’re stressing to the players, we want balls in the box and to get bodies in the box. In the second half, we did that.
“I don’t want to be too harsh on them because, although the first 45 minutes were disappointing, the second 45 minutes was more like the team we want to be.”
Ross Draper and Ben Barron, who have been on the bench as they recover from injuries, could be involved against the Blue Toon, but the game will probably come too soon for winger Mitch Taylor will miss out with a calf problem.
Ferguson invited Smith to Everton
Smith, meanwhile, is delighted to see former Scotland, Rangers and Everton striker Duncan Ferguson land the Inverness manager’s job this week.
The 51-year-old comes into the Championship strugglers, with the aim of turning them from relegation contenders to promotion hunters.
Smith revealed they worked together when gaining their badges and he backs Ferguson to rise to the challenge at Caley Thistle.
He said: “I have got a lot of time for big Dunc. I played against him when he was at Rangers and I was at Celtic.
“I hadn’t seen him for a long time then both of us did the (SFA) pro licence. There were a lot of good candidates in the pro licence, but I was fortunate enough to be paired with Duncan in a couple of areas and he invited me down to Everton to let me have a look at the set-up.
“We worked well together and I am delighted to see him get back into football as soon as he has (after leaving Forest Green in July), because it can be tough.
“Duncan did really well at Everton when he was caretaker manager. He’s coached for a long time and played at the highest level, so he’s got a great understanding of the game.
“Duncan will fully know the challenges ahead at Inverness – but he’s the type of guy who will meet them head-on. He’s very strong-willed and he’s got a great attitude in terms of what he wants to do and what he wants to achieve. I am sure it will work out well for him.”