Matthew Cooper admits Elgin City’s promotion ambitions have taken a hit through an inability to deal with injury setbacks.
On Saturday, Edinburgh City – nearest challengers behind leaders Cove Rangers in League 2 – somehow made off with three points despite the home team’s dominance.
The Borough Briggs side have slipped down to sixth place in the table, five points adrift of the play-off position.
Cooper, who showed his versatility once again by playing in two positions during the 1-0 loss, is convinced he knows where the root of Elgin’s troubles lie.
The former Caley Thistle defender said: “There’s always a spell in the season when you start picking up injuries and we’ve been unlucky in the last couple of weeks.
“All the injuries seem to have been in our defence.
“We’ve been tested and, unfortunately, we’ve not had the results we wanted.”
Cooper praised 18-year-old Cameron Harper who made his City debut on loan from Caley Thistle.
He said: “I thought Cammy at left back came in and looked like he had been playing for us for weeks.
“He did really well and slotted in fine with the boys, so it’s just a case of us all getting through it together.
“You get spells like this in a season where you just need to grind through it and we are capable of doing that.”
By full-time, title-chasing Edinburgh would have doubled Elgin City’s points tally of 22, but there was no apparent gulf in ability on Saturday.
In fact, City should really have been comfortably ahead.
The visitors’ Scott Shepherd drew a good Tom McHale save from an Alex Harris reverse pass on 20 minutes.
Seven minutes later, the same attacker had better luck, stroking Edinburgh into the lead after being allowed to swivel and turn on Liam Henderson’s ball across from the left.
The home side were the dominant force in the second half.
Just before the hour, top scorer Shane Sutherland saw a near-post effort blocked by keeper Alan Martin, before the ball was scrambled clear from the goalmouth.
Brian Cameron and Conor O’Keefe twice went close as Elgin chased hard for a leveller.
In stoppage time Elgin had one last chance but Daniel MacKay fired Darryl McHardy’s nod down straight at the keeper from good position.
Home manager Gavin Price said: “How many times has that happened to us this season?
“I’m gutted we lost the game today. Edinburgh had one chance, really, and took it. We’ve given them the goal too softly and we’ve got to be more clinical with the chances we had in the second half.”