Edinburgh City manager Gary Jardine is delighted to have one of his most important players available in Joe Mbu for the biggest 90 minutes in the club’s history.
The Lowland League champions can become the first ever club to gain promotion to the SPFL via the Pyramid Play-Offs with a win over East Stirlingshire in today’s final second leg at Ochilview.
Mbu was controversially sent off in the first leg at Meadowbank, but an SPFL judiciary panel upheld the appeal against his dismissal. “He’s been a big player for us, there’s no doubt about it,” said Jardine. “Having him helps. As Dougie [Gair’s] said previously, we have won games without him but you saw on Saturday he had a really good game. It gives me more strength and depth to pick from so I’m much happier with him in the team.”
Jardine also has midfielder Ian McFarland available following injury. “I don’t know if he’ll start, but he’s trained this week,” he explained. “He probably could have made last week but I didn’t want to take a chance on him. It was always about the two games – had last week been a one-off he might have come in. He’s got a chance this week as he’s trained really well.”
Having gone in to the semi-final second leg with a healthy 3-0 advantage over Cove Rangers, this time around there’s no air of inevitability surrounding the outcome with the final finely balanced at 1-1, which Jardine believes, has aided his preparation. “It’s much more straightforward in that sense,” he admitted. “It’s winner takes all. We’ve got lots to gain and they’ve got lots to lose. While there might be little bit of nerves before this game, I think the boys will be much more focused and determined to grab their chance.
“We know how difficult it’s going to be – they’re a team that’s played at a better level for years with experienced players. They’ll be motivated by the fact that they don’t want to be the first team to be relegated via the play-offs. Also, there was a lot of managers at last week’s game looking for players so for them it’s a shop window whereas our players are mostly Edinburgh City through and through, who want to take the chance to go up and stay with the club. We’ve got a chance and that’s all I could have asked for.”