Edinburgh City, who pulled themselves off the bottom rung of the Central Taxis Premier Division with a late 3-1 victory against Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale last weekend, journey to face a Preston Athletic team who are also in the bottom half of the table.
Gary Jardine, the City manager, was full of his praise for his side after scoring two goals in the closing minutes.
“We had worked very hard during the enforced break because of the bad weather and that is what won us all three points,” he said.
“I thought that Lothian put us under a lot of pressure and were probably the better side, but it really was down to our hard work when we were able to catch them on the break.
“We knew that after we had lost 2-1 to Stirling University in our previous game that our next five league games were going to be crucial and we quite simply needed to get points on the board to put us in a better position.
“We could use all the excuses we wanted regarding where we were in the league, including the worst injury list I have ever experienced with any team, but it’s the picture you look at when you see the league table that counts.
“Beating Lothian changed that picture by giving us another three points, although, from my point of view as a manager, it was a disappointing performance.
“However, in the context of our overall league campaign it was deserved because in some other games we have taken nothing and I think that we should have. It was a massive win and hopefully it will kick-start the second half of the season.”
The scorer of City’s first goal last Saturday was a trialist who Jardine has now signed. Nico Gibson, aged 20, who was previously with Aberdeen and, more recently, East Stirling, was born in Edinburgh and has proved in training to be a good addition to the City squad.
“Nico has fitted in superbly and scored a great goal,” added Jardine.
“February is a huge month for City with five league games, including four against teams in the bottom half of the table.
“After we play Preston Athletic, we meet Edinburgh University twice and Tynecastle followed by Whitehill Welfare.
“Every game between the teams below the top three will be games where each side is fighting for survival and it is important to take as many points as possible from these games. The statistics do not lie and we are where we are – which is in second bottom spot.
“Tomorrow we meet Preston and we must impose ourselves on the game. Most of Preston’s games seem to be high-scoring which does not surprise me as their manager David Bingham is an attack-minded manager.
“We beat them 5-0 in our earlier meeting, although they missed two really good chances when the score was 0-0 and then they had a player sent off.
“Tomorrow we have to keep our back door firmly closed because this is really a six-pointer. We want to go on a winning run and get some continuity.”
Jardine has a squad of 16 and there could be a starting berth for Yazid Mejri, a central midfield player who is studying at Napier University, and who has the ability to change games and create opportunities for City strikers Robbie Ross and Paul Devlin.
Bingham admits that he has a “frustrated” group of players: “There is nothing worse for players than training two nights a week then not getting a game on a Saturday.”
Bingham reflected on the last meeting between the teams when City. “That was as poor a performance as we have had all season,” stressed Bingham. “City are a good side, but the manner in which we conceded the goals was abysmal. Players have to do the basics properly.
“City like to play football, they work hard and we will need to be at our best and work as a team to compete with them. I’m always optimistic as a manager, although once the players cross the white line it’s up to them.
“We are capable of picking up points in every game if we play to our best and we have more than enough games left to ensure that we remain in the Premier Division. We just have to handle that pressure.”
Bingham is without John Gilbertson and Sean Thomson, while Peter Newby and Calum Kerr are struggling to be fit.
The game kicks off at the Pennypit Stadium, Prestonpans, at 2.30pm, with admission prices of £4 for adults and £2 for concessions.