Far from dreading tonight’s bottom-of-the-table clash with Cowdenbeath, Edinburgh City boss Gary Jardine is relishing it – and believes such games are what gives football its appeal in Scotland.
The Blue Brazil are the country’s basement club, sitting four points behind tonight’s visitors. Liam Fox’s side have two games in hand, but a failure to beat their closest relegation rivals would cast major doubts over their ability to make up the deficit elsewhere.
Jardine, who hopes to have signed Derek Riordan in time for the game, has a team who are the lowest scorers in Britain, finding the net on just 21 occasions in the league. They do have the third best defensive record in the division, however, and there is a feeling at Meadowbank that points are never far away. With neither team having sampled victory since Hogmanay, a win this evening could make a massive difference to their respective seasons.
“It’s a big week, but it won’t define anything and it won’t settle anything,” Jardine warned. “Having Stirling at the weekend, Cowdenbeath tonight and Berwick on Saturday, they’re three big games and we’d like to take something from it.
“It’s going to go all the way until the end of the season. People knock the set-up of Scottish football, but it’s fantastic. It’s what we want to be part of. There’s not a week goes by when there’s not something at stake and we’re enjoying every minute of it. It’s hard to take when you get beat, but we’ll be positive and go in to the game tonight looking to win it.”
The Central Park club haven’t had their troubles to seek recently. Aside from some fairly dismal form on the pitch, last week’s gambling scandal involving Dean Brett resulted in the defender having his contract terminated by the club, who should be commended on the sensible yet compassionate way they dealt with a player who placed bets against his own team.
Despite these troubles, Jardine knows from experience that an easy away win should be the last thing anyone expects. “If any team has given us problems it’s been Cowdenbeath,” he recalled. “They beat us 2-0 at Central Park early in the season and at Meadowbank there was less than ten minutes to go when we equalised. So we know about them, we know their players and they’ve caused us problems. There’s not a lot between the teams in the bottom six and if you don’t turn up and compete then you can’t expect to take anything.”
City probably would have taken more from the corresponding home fixture but for the performance of Blue Brazil keeper Dave McGurn. The former Raith man produced a brilliant performance in a 1-1 draw that the hosts surely would have won but for McGurn’s heroics. “I don’t need to talk him up – his actions speak louder than words,” said Jardine. “While Cowdenbeath maybe haven’t hit the heights, I know that they would have wanted to be challenging for promotion, and without David they could have had a few points less.
“Certainly against us I think he won them a point – he was fantastic. He’s done well, but they also have some good players elsewhere. [Kris] Renton scored a fantastic goal against us and they have pace in the wide areas. Young Lewis [Moore] is a good player and it has maybe just taken a bit longer for them to click.”
Jardine hopes to have some of his own big players available. “Joe [Mbu] will be back,” he confirmed. “I’m not sure about Ouzy [See] though – it’s more pain rather than any specific injury. We’ll be able to freshen it up though as some boys on Saturday were unlucky not to be playing.”