Boss Barry Smith reckons Elgin City’s bid to improve is being hampered by a lack of options within areas of his League Two squad.
The Moray club are rock-bottom of their division and desperate for three valuable points at home to Bonnyrigg Rose on Saturday.
Since replacing short-term predecessor Ross Draper in September, Smith has seen his team secure just one win in seven games – a 2-0 home success against Dumbarton.
Two weeks ago, Elgin also suffered an embarrassing 6-0 thumping at East of Scotland Premier Division side Jeanfield Swifts in the Scottish Cup, opponents two tiers lower.
A win against a Bonnyrigg team with just one victory from their last five league games could see Elgin overtake Clyde, who travel to eighth-placed Forfar Athletic.
Smith, who has managed Dundee, Alloa, Aldershot Town, East Fife, Raith Rovers, is drawing on all his experience to make his side competitive.
Players’ attitudes are superb – Smith
However, he admits he’s been forced to use loan players in makeshift positions in order to get through at the moment.
He said: “The issue we have at the moment is we’re having to play players out of position.
“Blair (McKenzie, who is on loan from Aberdeen), for example, is playing at left-back when he’s actually a centre-back.
“We don’t have a right winger, so (striker) Liam (Harvey, also on loan from Aberdeen) is playing wide right, while young Ryan (MacLeman, who is on loan from Ross County) has played in four or five positions.
“All these guys are giving us everything in positions that are not natural to them. Their attitudes have been superb.
“That comes from the recruitment previously. It’s not down to the players that have been signed, it’s down to the balance of positions within the squad.
“The players that have been signed are good players, but they really need a bit of help where we can play them in their correct positions.
“However, we will keep our heads down and keep working hard. You only get through times like this when you work hard and improve things yourself.”
⚫️⚪️ NEXT MATCH ⚫️⚪️
🆚 Bonnyrigg Rose
🏟️ Borough Briggs – Elgin
🏆 Cinch League Two
📅 Saturday 11th November
🎟️ Tickets are available at turnstiles or from our Fanbase – https://t.co/Zez9iLfxwv pic.twitter.com/OQVIOaEwDK
— Elgin City F.C. (@ElginCityFC) November 8, 2023
Early penalty hurt Elgin’s chances
Last weekend’s 3-1 loss at Stranraer was made all the more difficult by the awarding of what City say was a soft spot-kick early on, which was slotted away by Dylan Forrest past goalkeeper Kyle King, who made his Elgin debut.
Matty Grant and James Dolan goals took the scoreline to 3-0 early in the second half, but Elgin rallied and recent signing Robert Jones got the visitors on the scoresheet.
Smith said: “Looking back at the game, we conceded a penalty, which I feel was very soft, so we were on the back foot straight away.
“The other two goals were preventable from our point of view.
“However, after their third goal we played well and the boys showed good spirit, and Robert (Jones) scored his first goal for the club. I was delighted for him.
“Robert is a different type of striker compared to what we’ve already got. He has good experience and know-how. For him to get on the scoresheet it good for him and hopefully his confidence will grow from that.
“We had a couple of other opportunities on Saturday, but ultimately, we cannot keep conceding the goals we’ve been conceding.”
Defensive duo in line for City returns
Smith is hopeful captain and defender Matthew Cooper and goalkeeper Thomas McHale will be in contention for Saturday after both missed out at Stranraer due to illness.
Forward Harvey is a doubt having been sent home from Aberdeen’s training sessions in midweek.
Fellow striker Jones may be subject to a late decision as his wife is due to give birth to their first baby.
The manager added: “We will play it by ear with Robert. In life, family is more important than football.”