JOHN GREEN, co-manager of Edinburgh City, has marked his own report card for mid-term and is well aware that it reads – “league form has to improve.”
City currently sit ninth in the 12-team Central Taxis Premier Division and tomorrow they face Edinburgh University who occupy the place immediately below the Meadowbank Stadium-based side.
“In the second half of the season we are looking to move into the top half of the league,” said Green. “We certainly have the squad capable of doing that and we have only played eight league games so we are barely a third of the way through the season. Our cup form has been very good and we have had consistency in these games.”
City have already triumphed in the final of the Image Printers East of Scotland Qualifying Cup, where they beat Whitehill Welfare 3-2 with a hat-trick from Robbie Ross to lift their first trophy since securing the Premier Division title in season 2005-2006.
“Gary Jardine [City co-manager] and me regard this time of the year as starting the second part of the season and we have looked back at what we achieved, which was good. We’ve now examined our aims and objectives and we will re-visit them towards the end of April when there are only three or four league games left to see where we are then. Winning leagues and relegation issues are not decided in early February.”
Green bemoaned the fact that finding suitable training and coaching facilities in Edinburgh during the inclement weather has been a nightmare. “On a couple of occasions we have either had to cancel training or run about in the dark which is obviously not the ideal preparation,” added Green. “In our last two games we lost 2-1 to Gretna 2008 and beat Leith Athletic 2-0 in what were two hard-fought encounters.
“Tomorrow we face Edinburgh University and I can guarantee that come the end of the season they will not be in the position they currently find themselves in. Gary and I have been in charge of City for two years and we have never had an easy game against them. The students are always fit and they have conceded the second lowest amount of goals in the entire Premier Division. That tells me what I already knew in as much as their coach, Douglas Samuel, always has his team well organised and set up not to concede goals.
“Their players give everything for Douglas to get something out of each game and we do not underestimate tomorrow’s task because we definitely know that we are in for a challenging game. The University have some fantastic players including Danny Main, James Craigen, Jack Beacher and Neil ‘Zorro’ Irvine, who really is worth two players to them because of his motivational attitude.
“Although for us at City this is like starting a new season after the winter break, the students will already have high fitness levels because of their involvement in midweek inter-university games. At this stage of the season it is difficult to predict scores and nobody can go with a form book. Our boys may be frustrated at this stop-start part of the season but they are ready to go and looking forward to the next four months.”
Green welcomes back Grant Vanson, Ruaraidh Scott and Mark Torrance although their leading goalscorer, Robbie Ross, is doubtful with a virus and his brother Kenny is suspended. Edinburgh University, meanwhile, have been doing some strength and conditioning during the enforced break which saw their midweek game with Heriot-Watt University fall victim to the weather. “It’s extremely frustrating with this stop-start situation and we are desperate to inject some momentum into our season,” said Samuel. “It looks like we will be playing every Saturday and Wednesday for the next five or six weeks while we also have six players in the Scottish Universities squad as they build up for the British University Games in Nottingham in April.
“Tomorrow we know that City will be well disciplined and organised. They like to play the ball on the carpet and I respect the players they put on the park and their management team of John and Gary. City have a lot of Edinburgh University graduates in their line-up and that always gives me the chance to renew old acquaintances. If we could secure two wins out of our next three fixtures that would set us up nicely for the second part of the season.”
Samuel has some pleasant selection decisions to make with Calum Murray and Mike Gray both back to full fitness although Russian Andrey Kuzmenko and defender Mark Gair are both likely to miss out.
The game kicks off at Meadowbank Stadium at 2.30pm with admission prices, adults £5.00 and concessions £2.00.