Ladbrokes League Two Player of the Month for December Andrew Stobie insists his focus remains solely on points rather than clean sheets, as Edinburgh City seek a return to winning ways against Cowdenbeath at Central Park tomorrow.
The goalkeeper picked up the gong this week along with manager Gary Jardine, who was voted top boss for the second month in a row. Three league clean sheets out of four was no doubt a major factor, although Stobie admitted the shut-outs don’t really register as long as the SPFL new boys continue to pick up points.
“I was very proud and honoured to receive the award, but shock was probably the first emotion that comes to mind to be honest,” said the former East Fife stopper. “The run we’ve been on, the last two months have sort of all merged in to one. It wasn’t until I sat down and thought about it that I realised ‘God, I’ve only conceded one league goal in December.’ I sort of put clean sheets to the back of my mind and help the team get wins more than anything else, and keep the number of points in my head rather than clean sheets.”
The City No.1 is quick to acknowledge the efforts of those in front of him as well. “That’s it, a team effort,” he insisted. “In some matches I’ve been busier than others but the guys have been brilliant. Right from Ouzy [See] or Ross [Allum] defending from the front, in to midfield, and the defence have all been brilliant. Any of the players in our squad would have deserved the award. It’s been a real team effort and that’s what’s going to get us out of the situation we’re in. We’ve all improved in the last couple of months and hopefully that continues.”
As well as the team-mates in front of him, having fellow keeper Calum Antell pushing him for a starting spot has enabled Stobie to perform the way he has. “Calum, and Gregor [Amos] last season as well, pushed me all the way in every training session,” he explained. “We work really well together. Calum’s been here six months now so I know what he’s like and he knows what I’m like. He’s been the first person to congratulate me after games – against Annan especially – he jogged on at the end to say ‘well done’ and was the first to do so after winning the award as well. When Calum gets his chance again, I’ll be there to support him the exact same way. It’s all part and parcel of the goalkeepers union!”
The afore mentioned win over Annan, albeit back in November, saw Stobie produce two contenders for save of the season. He acrobatically tipped a Max Wright volley on to the bar for the first, he then somehow kept out Dave McKenna’s point-blank effort as City picked up a first home league win of the campaign.
“It’s been one of my better saves, the one I tipped on to the bar,” he admitted. “I don’t know how the guy missed the second one – it hit me in the chest and that’s all I knew about it! The volley was a good one, though – it was November but we’ll count it!”
The time for reflection is now over however, with City looking to begin another run of form after Arbroath inflicted a first defeat since October last weekend. “It’s amazing to think we’ve gone on this really good run but we’re still only two points off the bottom of the league,” assessed Stobie. “All we’ve done is given ourselves a chance of finishing ninth, really. We’ve only managed one draw against Cowdenbeath and I don’t think we can have any complaints. They deserved to win the first game and a draw was probably fair at Meadowbank.
“Their goalie [Dave McGurn] was outstanding that day. I’d heard of him but hadn’t seen a lot of him but what a game he had! Gary said after the game he’s a Premier League standard goalkeeper, which he’d mentioned to me before we played. They train up next to us [at Oriam] and I walked past him. He looks massive in the goals but he’s actually around the same height as me, so if he can perform like that then hopefully I can do the same. He was magnificent and has probably saved them quite a lot of times this season if I’m being honest. We’re going to have a big, big job on our hands not just in to get the ball in to an area to score goals, but to actually get it past him as well.”