Edinburgh CITY face a 400-mile round trip for tomorrow’s SPFL play-off second leg against Brora Rangers and John Dunn believes their performances on the road this season mean they have every chance of coming back down the A9 having booked a play-off final date with Montrose.
Nearly 1000 spectators were at Meadowbank to witness the Lowland League champions draw 1-1 with their Highland counterparts last Saturday. Neither Gary Jardine nor Davie Kirkwood felt their players had gained an advantage ahead of tomorrow’s decider at Dudgeon Park, but Jardine did admit he felt his side were better suited to playing away from home.
Dunn, who has been an integral part of a City team that has dropped just five points away from Meadowbank all season, agrees with his manager. “There’ll be an onus on them to attack but equally it’s not our intention to park the bus at all,” said the former Craigroyston man. “Gary’s right – we’ve had some good performances away from home and it’s something that perhaps suits our style of play. It could be the same on Saturday – I don’t know what the pitch is like up there, but I imagine it’s a decent set up as everything else about them seems quite professional.
“It’s certainly different to a lot of the away games we’ve played this season. A lot of them are an hour or two away at most, but we’re going up on the bus on Friday night and staying in a hotel near Inverness, so that’ll break up the journey a wee bit. We’re coming straight back down on Saturday after the game and hopefully it’s in a positive mood after a great result.”
Whilst many will have the well-resourced Highland League club as favourites to progress, Dunn feels that perhaps there is extra pressure on them to come out on top tomorrow. However, he doesn’t equate that to City having nothing to lose. “Maybe some of the pressure on them was lifted with their chairman’s comments saying that they didn’t actually want promoted. I think from our side of things, pressure-wise, we’ll put it on ourselves – we want to perform and do well. The first leg was so even I can see the second leg being an even tighter game again. They’ll probably be favourites – there’s no doubt about that – but we’re quietly confident and we’ll hopefully deal with the pressure and everything else that comes with the game.”
This is the third meeting of the clubs following Brora’s 3-2 Scottish Cup win in the capital last November – in which Dunn found the net. He ranks Brora as the best team he’s come up against this season, but is encouraged by the improvement City have shown since that cup defeat. “I would say they’re the best we’ve played this season. In pre-season we had games against full-time opposition in Raith Rovers and Dumbarton, but competitively Brora have been the best. They’ve got a lot of good players who are ex-professionals and they’ve shown that in the games against us.
“If you look at our two performances in the games against them, in the first game they really did out-perform us. Since then we’ve improved a lot and gave a good account of ourselves on Saturday and our aim is to improve again this Saturday.”
Two of the more notable ex-professionals Dunn makes reference to are Ross Tokely and Grant Munro. The one-time defensive partners at Inverness CT are both missing this weekend, and while a boost for City, Dunn expects their hosts to replace quality with quality. “I wasn’t aware but if that’s the case I’m sure they’ve got other players who are more than capable who can come in. They’ve got a huge amount of resources and their squad is full of players who played at a higher level. While some might see it as a disadvantage, it’s an opportunity for some of their other players. It’s a tricky one.”
Brora put City under pressure from the off in the first leg, and will be expected to do the same on home turf. However, the talent City possess in attacking areas in Ortega Deniran, Ross Allum and Dunn himself was always a threat, and something they hope to exploit tomorrow. “That’s our intention” explained Dunn. “As I said it’s not a case of us sitting back and waiting for them to play – we’ll be looking to get forward and cause them problems. We’ve done well this season in terms of creating chances and scoring goals – our forwards and creative midfielders have done well. We had a few chances Saturday past and only took one of them, so hopefully wee can be a wee bit more clinical when it comes to it.”
After a successful maiden season with the Citizens, Dunn revealed he’s keen to continue in black-and-white next term regardless if the club are in League Two or not. “When Gary spoke to me and laid out his plans it was clear that he was ambitious and wanted to win the league and gain promotion. At the time, I knew we had a good squad, but we’ve gelled so much and improved massively throughout the season. It’s a been a good first season with the club and hopefully there’s another highlight to come. I’m enjoying my football again and am committed to playing here – hopefully it’s in League Two.”
• Spartans host Preston Athletic tomorrow in the Lowland League Cup First Knockout Round at Ainslie Park. Kick off is at 3pm.