Elgin City boss Barry Smith is urging shell-shocked fans to help the troubled club recover from their shocking 6-0 Scottish Cup defeat at Jeanfield Swifts.
The Moray side are rooted to the foot of League Two and expected a tough second-round tie away to their East of Scotland Premier League hosts on Saturday.
However, a crushing rout, thought to be the heaviest Scottish Cup loss for a senior Scottish League side against non-league opponents in the competition 127 years, sent shockwaves across the country.
— Scottish Gas Scottish Cup (@ScottishCup) October 29, 2023
City fans were left furious by the manner of the defeat, which came a few days after the team fought back for a 1-1 league draw against Stenhousemuir,
Former Celtic and Dundee player Smith, who has also managed Dundee, Alloa Athletic, Raith Rovers and Brechin City, took over from Ross Draper in early September and it has been a mixed bag so far as he has sought to steady the ship.
Elgin also lost 6-0 to League Two leaders Peterhead last month, leaking two early goals as they did in Perth on Saturday.
Smith accepts the result and performance against Jeanfield was nowhere near what he, or supporters, expect.
He said: “For the club, it’s a real low-point.
“When it comes down to it, you sometimes must go through these hardships, whether it’s in life or in football, and hopefully you come out the other side stronger.
“This is what we’ve got to look at. We’re going through a hard time after a very poor result, but we have to ask: ‘Can we get stronger?’
“We have to pull together and still remain focused on what we want to do in the league.”
When asked about the fans’ disappointment, he said: “Supporters are more than entitled to their opinion.
“When you are going through tough periods, like we are now and even before I came in, everyone must stick together and pull this club from where it is.
Jeanfield Swifts were also the first non-league team to score six against Scottish League opposition since Ross County (then of the Highland League) dumped Queen of the South 6-2 in 1990-91. https://t.co/pONeixYjMw
— Andy Mitchell (@AndyMitchMedia) October 29, 2023
“Everyone must pull in the same direction.
“I’ve no qualms about that.
“Let’s stick together through these hard times and we can all work towards better times.”
Elgin’s squad ‘imbalance’ is real challenge – Smith
The addition of experienced striker Robert Jones last week was a sign Smith is looking to bolster Elgin’s options.
Smith accepts a big job lies ahead this season, which continues on Saturday away to Stranraer.
He said: “When I took the job, I knew there would be challenges.
“There was an imbalance in the squad and we’re playing players out of position.
“For example, the squad doesn’t have a natural left-back.
“We’re always fitting square pegs into round holes.
“I knew that when I came in, but listen – that doesn’t excuse the result.”
— The Courier Sport (@thecouriersport) October 30, 2023
Elgin didn’t track players for three goals, boss says
Jeanfield, who had never hosted an SPFL team before, are on cloud nine after their rousing result, and Smith added: “I don’t want to take anything away from Jeanfield -they were excellent, for as much as we were poor.
“Defensively, I have looked back at the goals and we’d warned the players about the runs in behind and tracking runners, and we didn’t track them for at least three of the goals.
“We never got an opportunity to get a foothold in the game, given we lost two goals in the first 10 minutes again (as they did at Peterhead).
“We’d warned the players and they were mistakes on our part.”
Smith: ‘We must find consistency, desire and work-rate in every game’
The overall picture, on the back of two such heavy defeats, looks bleak at Elgin, however, the manager is urging his players to consistently find the levels which have impressed him at points in his fledgling tenure.
He said: “Since I’ve come in, we’ve picked up a few points – but we’d also have liked more points.
“When I look at the SPFL Trust Trophy tie at Morton (a 2-1 defeat), and the Dumbarton and Stenhousemuir games (2-0 win and 1-1 draw), I have seen real spirit and real desire.
“But if I look at the Peterhead and Jeanfield games, I can see why we’re bottom of the league. We must show consistency.
“You don’t get a pat on the back from me for desire and work-rate. That should be a given.
“Unfortunately, we’re not getting that in every game, especially the two heavy defeats. That’s why the team is where it is.
“Everybody has to stand up and be counted – that includes me. The players have to accept responsibility when they cross the right line.”