Edinburgh City striker Ross Allum says the team needs to become more streetwise if they’re to get off the mark in League Two.
City’s search for their first points of the campaign resumes this weekend with a trip to Forthbank to play Stirling Albion.
Gary Jardine’s team contrived to surrender three points in their last fixture at home to Berwick despite leading with half an hour remaining, having also passed up numerous chances to put away Cowdenbeath the previous weekend.
While still early in the campaign, the need for wins will grow more pressing the longer their pointless run continues, and Allum feels he and his team-mates must be more clinical and perhaps cynical to help bring it to an end.
“The amount of people that are asking me at my work ‘what’s happening, how did you get on at the weekend?’ and I’m fed up of saying we played really well and probably should have won, but we didn’t,” said last season’s top scorer. “I don’t know if some of the boys are still a bit shell-shocked at games but we need to be more ruthless. Streetwise is probably the best way describe it. I can feel it coming, but we need to start taking our chances.”
Despite a double against Premiership Hamilton in the Betfred Cup group stages, the striker is yet to find the net on league duty this season, and admitted he is beginning to get frustrated with the situation.
“Against Cowdenbeath I had two or three chances I was disappointed not to score with,” Allum admitted. “It’s one of those things. Everybody says: ‘at least you’re there’, but I’d much rather be scoring them than missing them, put it that way.
“I have just come back from a wee niggle at the tail end of the Betfred Cup so I’m starting to feel a lot fitter and stronger and back to where I was. Hopefully it’ll start coming but I need to start finding the net, especially with the competition within the squad.”
Allum is vying with fellow strikers Ouzy See, Craig Beattie, Nico Gibson and Ross Guthrie for a starting berth. However, having all five fit is a luxury that hasn’t been afforded to Jardine this term, with the latter three the latest to miss out through injury. “That’s maybe a good thing for Gary because I don’t know what he’d do if he had all five of us available!” Allum joked.
“I imagine there’s going to come a point in the season when the whole squad will be fit. It’s unfortunate that all of us have had our wee injuries at the same time, but we’ll see what happens when a few boys are back fit.”
What the returning frontmen will discover, with the exception of the experienced Beattie, is that scoring and winning regularly in League Two is a different prospect than what it was at Lowland League level.
“It’s about being consistent,” said Allum. “We’ve played teams from a higher level in one-off games – friendlies, cup ties etc – and more than held our own, but when you play them week in, week out, you’ve got to be on your game every week for 90 minutes. You can’t afford to switch off.
“Maybe in the Lowland League we could maybe afford to switch off for parts of games and still come away with wins, but not at this level, or you’ll come away with nothing. That’s maybe what’s happened. Especially against Berwick, we dropped our concentration for maybe five, ten minutes and were punished twice. What we’re trying to drill in is focus and concentration.
“From a striker’s point of view, there’s a lot of big, physical, strong centre-halves and they can all play. Some of these guys have played at a higher level. Against Cowdenbeath it was Craig Sives who’s played full-time professional football at a much higher level than what we’re at just now, so you’re up against it from the start. The chances that I’ve had, I need to start taking them as you’ll maybe only get two or three a game. It’s a massive step up.”
You might think a trip to a familiar venue in Forthbank would be a more welcome prospect for City, but not necessarily so says Allum. “We’ve played there before against Stirling Uni but thinking back we don’t have a great record there! We’re familiar with it, but it’s going to be another tough game.”