Revitalised Edinburgh City have risen to the challenge

Edinburgh City manager Gary Jardine. Pic: Malcolm McCurrach

Edinburgh City manager Gary Jardine. Pic: Malcolm McCurrach

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Edinburgh City manager Gary Jardine revealed that after a poor start to the season, he challenged his players at the turn of the year to win a trophy and finish in the top five of the Lowland League.

City’s players have certainly responded to Jardine’s demands as they reached the semi-finals of the King Cup in midweek with a 4-2 extra-time victory against Preston Athletic and a win tomorrow in their final league game against Vale of Leithen would see them finish in fifth position. “We evaluated our situation in January when we were sitting ninth in the table and we set ourselves a top-five target,” said Jardine. “Already we have gained more points this season than we have in the last three which, in the Lowland League, is another step up. We have lost only three games in the second half of the season so we want to carry on with our good form.”

City certainly showed their resilience in midweek when they twice came from behind to beat Preston Athletic in extra time. “On its own that was a tough game, but on the back of two other games which made it three in six days we were made to work really hard on a difficult surface.

“We found it difficult to get started which we have done a few times in midweek games. I was really pleased with the second half when we made the pitch big by getting wide and putting crosses in. We created a lot of chances and eventually got back on level terms before winning late on.”

City now face Vale of Leithen at Meadowbank Stadium tomorrow and a win would see them leapfrog the Innerleithen club and move into fifth position. “We certainly won’t be treating this as an end-of-season game,” stressed Jardine. “A win would achieve our mid-season target and I think it’s what the players deserve for their hard work in the second half of the season.

“Vale were on a good run when we beat them 2-1 at Innerleithen. Chic [McAleavy] had put a good squad together, but from what I am led to believe they could be a bit of an unknown quantity tomorrow. Vale ran Stirling University very close last Saturday and although it will be a different team to that which we faced earlier in the season, it will still be a difficult game. We will need to focus on what we can do and hopefully come out with the right result.

“We will need to mix up our selection as this is our fourth game in ten days. Mark Torrance, who was an unused substitute on Tuesday night, has played a lot of football and he will come back in, as will Nico Gibson and Ryan Wilson. We also have in mind the semi-final of the King Cup next Tuesday.”

Vale of Leithen were left in turmoil last Friday when the management team of Chic McAleavy, Fraser Ogilvie and Mickey Weir all resigned and most of the players also left the club. However, chairman Jack Diamond stepped in and, with the five players who had remained, assembled a team of trialists who narrowly lost 3-2 to Stirling University last Saturday. “The resignations were totally unexpected,” said Diamond. “I had asked the management team to let me know their thoughts for next season then suddenly I was left to be ‘Jack of all trades’ on Saturday. I managed to pull a team together and the result could easily have been a draw.

“We will bring in more trialists tomorrow and it will not be a problem fielding a team. City beat us earlier in the season when they played very well. They are a good side, but no way will we be throwing in the towel. We just need to draw a line under this season and get matters sorted out both on and off the park.”

The game kicks off at Meadowbank Stadium at 3.00pm.