Edinburgh City boss Gary Jardine says he is ready to wield the axe on a group of players who are still to register their first win as an SPFL League 2 side.
Saturday’s 2-1 defeat by Elgin City, their sixth of the campaign, leaves the Meadowbank outfit four points adrift of ninth-placed Cowdenbeath at the bottom with Barry Ferguson’s title-chasing Clyde due in the Capital this weekend.
The fact Jardine didn’t emerge to speak to the press for more than an hour after the match told a story in itself.
Asked to divulge on what was said within the home dressing room, Jardine said: “I spoke probably less than anybody to be honest. It was me asking the questions and the players giving me the answers. I think we’re at a crossroads just now.
“We’ve improved year in year out and I want to know if any of the guys think this is a utopia and the best level they can make, or are they with me in taking Edinburgh City to the next step. Is getting promoted to League 2 our middle ground and what is above that, or do they think that is our top?
“If anybody thinks that is the best they can do they can leave. Going forward we’re disappointed and they’ve let themselves down but we’re determined to make a right good go of this. Talk is cheap so I’ll only get those answers over the next few weeks.”
On the match itself, Jardine said: “I don’t think we can take anything from Saturday. The second half is what I would least expect from them. We failed to match Elgin’s desire and hunger from the beginning and everybody knows if you don’t start the game well then it’s very difficult to get back into it.”
City suffered the worst possible start as the Highlanders found themselves in front as early as the third minute.
Winger Chris Dodd found space down the left and his cross-cum shot completely caught out Andrew Stobie in the City goal as the ball looped into the far corner of the net.
Jim Weir’s side inflicted a 3-0 defeat on the league’s newcomers in August and the former St Johnstone defender must have thought there was every possibility of bettering that outcome.
Chris McLeish’s shot on the turn had to be tipped round the post by Stobie as Elgin went in search of doubling their advantage.
The home side, on the other hand, were offering little as an attacking threat and resembled a shadow of the team that had played out a 3-3 draw with Arbroath just seven days prior.
A terrific run from Shane Sutherland on the half hour put the visitors further ahead, the frontman outpacing defender Joe Mbu and his cutback was excellently turned home by Thomas Reilly.
Jordan Caddow and Gordon Donaldson replaced Mbu and Craig Beattie respectively for the restart and it was from Donaldson’s pinpoint cross that they almost reduced the deficit as the onrushing Ross Guthrie’s header was smartly tipped over by Mark Watters.
Goalscorer Dodd was then booked for simulation by referee Colin Steven and Guthrie suffered the same feat just moments after.
City now had far more energy in their play and from Caddow’s cross, Ousman See’s angled header again called Watters into action and he stuck out a great left hand to turn the ball around the post.
Guthrie’s close-range header was cleared off the line before City’s persistence finally paid off after See was sent tumbling under the challenge of Mark Nicolson and captain Dougie Gair made no mistake from 12 yards.
Despite some late pressure from the hosts as they sought an equaliser, the Elgin rearguard stood firm to preserve their lead.
Edinburgh City: Stobie, Dunsmore, Mbu (Caddow 46), Guthrie (Allum 78), Harrison, McKee, McFarland, Gair, Beattie (Donaldson 46), Dunn, See. Subs: Antell, McConnell, Martynuik, Muhsin.
Elgin City: Watters, Cooper, McPhee, McHardy, Nicolson, Reilly, Reid (McLeod 84), Cameron, McLeish (Stewart 68), Sutherland, Dodd (Moore 72). Subs: Dunn, Bruce, Gunn.
Referee: Colin Steven