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Ross Draper: Beating Clyde can spark Elgin City promotion push

Massive match in Moray as hosts can go seven home fixtures unbeaten and stretch gap over basement rivals Clyde to eight points.

Elgin City player/coach Ross Draper.
Ross Draper expects to be in caretaker charge of Elgin City for the final time against Clyde ahead of the club appointing a new manager next week. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

Ross Draper hopes Elgin City’s strong home form will work in their favour as they seek to widen the gap over basement rivals Clyde to eight points.

The Black and Whites, who are expected to name Barry Smith’s successor in the Borough Briggs’ hot seat early next week, face a massive match in League Tw0 on Saturday.

Former Inverness and Ross County star Draper will once more take on the player/caretaker boss role as Elgin target the victory which could even catapult them as high as sixth depending on results elsewhere.

There is a feeling that the side, should they win, may even push for a top-four spot in the second half of the campaign.

Victory would create a healthy lead over the troubled Bully Wee – whose only league win this season was a 2-1 result against Elgin at New Douglas Park, Hamilton, in September.

Elgin finding a way to win at home

With three wins and three draws on home soil since losing to Stranraer in August, Draper hopes the team can secure what would be a massive win.

Draper, who has not thrown his hat in the ring for the manager’s job having been in the post earlier this season, said: “The boys have been brilliant and remained grounded. It’s never easy to get results when there is a change of manager.

“Hopefully our strong results, especially at home, can continue on Saturday. We’re six unbeaten at Borough Briggs. We’re confident we can carry that on.

“It’s strange. Over the last couple of seasons, we’ve struggled at home and picked teams off away, especially when we had Kane (Hester, now at Montrose) to counter on teams.

“It’s flipped on its head this season and we’ve been much better at home. I can’t put my finger on it, but we’ve found a way to win.

“We’ve needed to do that though because we know how tough it is to go down the road every other week to pick up results. We have to make Borough Briggs a place where teams don’t want to come. We need to make sure it’s tough for opponents.

“Our boys have done that by showing great resilience and grit to get results, such as beating Forfar here recently.”

New Clyde manager Ian McCall, most recently the boss of Partick Thistle. Image: SNS Group

McCall chases recovery for Clyde

Clyde appointed former Dundee United, Ayr United and Partick Thistle manager Ian McCall last month to replace Brian McLean.

His tenure got off to the worst possible start when they slid to a 4-0 home loss against East Fife.

They did, however, post a 2-0 Scottish Cup third round win against Jeanfield Swifts last weekend – the East of Scotland Premier Division side who shocked Elgin 6-0 in the previous round. Clyde are home to Aberdeen in the fourth round of the competition next month.

Draper expects Clyde’s new boss will have plans and the backing to turn the tide around.

He said: “Ian McCall is a really good appointment for Clyde – he’s managed all the way up the pyramid, so he’s a manager of good pedigree.

“I am sure they will financially backing him in January to try and get out of the situation they are in. I’d expect he took the job knowing that was promised to him.”

All teams can still target promotion

Draper believes, such is the tight nature of the fourth-tier, there is no reason why Elgin should rule out a push for a promotion play-off spot – if they can put several more  victories on the board.

He added: “There is not much between most of the teams. We have spoken to the boys about small margins on both sides of the coin.

“Jonesy (Robert Jones) had a chance away to Dumbarton. We missed that and then we conceded a penalty and we were 1-0 down (in a 1-0 defeat). We could have been 1-0 up, having soaked up a lot of pressure.

“Scoring the first goal can give us a foothold in games. We know what we need to win games.

“The motivation for us is we can go eight points clear of Clyde and start looking towards the play-offs.

“Hopefully in the coming weeks before Christmas we can leave teams behind us and bring teams towards us, such as Stranraer and East Fife.

Ross Draper. Image: SNS Group

“All teams will think the same. Clyde will be coming here to win, to try and reduce the gap to two points and kick on and add players next month, They could then find themselves pushing towards the top half of the table.

“But if we get the win, we can push towards the top five and nearer the play-offs, which I genuinely believe is up for grabs for all teams this season.

“The new manager will come in here with new ideas and he will want to bring one or two players here in January.

“Hopefully, it’s exciting times for the club. But there is no point winning one or two games then not winning for a spell. We need to be consistent, whether that’s picking up wins or draws.”

Defender Jake Dolzanski sits out the Clyde clash due to suspension, but attacking midfielder Russell Dingwall could be fit and ready for a return to action.

Next weekend, Elgin will look to address their poor away form when they travel to seventh-placed East Fife on the search for their first league win away from Moray this season.