Calum Antell: Edinburgh City's defensive bond has been key to success
Edinburgh City goalkeeper Calum Antell believes the relationship he has with his back four outside of football has been instrumental in the club's exemplary defensive record this season.
James McDonaugh’s men are riding a crest of a wave having amassed 27 points from a possible 30 to lead the way in Ladbrokes League Two.
A lot of that success has been steered in the direction of striker Blair Henderson, who has ten goals to his name already and 15 in all competitions.
However, Welshman Antell has also tallied up an impressive record having shipped just three goals in Scottish football’s fourth tier – the last player to breach his goal in the league was Annan Athletic’s Ryan Sinnamon on September 15.
The 26-year-old also conceded just one goal during the whole of last month, Arbroath’s Michael McKenna getting the better of the former Hibs youth player despite City going on to register a 4-1 win in the Irn-Bru Cup.
But Antell isn’t one for taking all the plaudits and revealed the bond he has with the likes of captain Craig Thomson, Conrad Balatoni, Robbie McIntyre and Liam Henderson off the park, has paved the way for the early-season success.
“As a back five we all get on with each other off the park, which is always a massive help. We’ve gelled really quickly and we all know how we’re going to play,” Antell explained.
“If you go back to last season I think I played with the same back four twice over the course of the season, which isn’t great because you need to build relationships with those in front of you.
“I know Blair etc get a lot of credit but we’ve done well at the back to give them the platform to go and score the goals we have. But to be fair it does start from the front so the likes of Scott Shepherd, Allan Smith, Danny Handling – they’ve all worked their socks off for the team.
“I was actually saying to the gaffer the other day that when we look back at these records in the next few months we’ll probably be quite surprised at what we’ve achieved so far. But there’s still a lot of football to be played so we aren’t getting carried away.”
With Peterhead hot on the heels of the Citizens – just two points adrift in second – Antell is aware of the importance of picking up maximum points when Clyde visit Ainslie Park tomorrow. That said, the City No.1 admitted that, with Annan a further six points worse off in third, things are ticking along nicely.
“We’re not daft,” Antell said. “We would be very disappointed if we didn’t end up in the play-offs given the position we are in now. We’ve had a great start. I think this next quarter will be the crucial one with there being a lot of games over Christmas, so if we can keep the injuries away I can’t see why we can’t keep doing what we have managed so far.
“I think last week’s win at Stirling was one of the best defensive displays we’ve had this season as they threw everything at us. But we stayed rigid and we didn’t give them any clear-cut chances, which we’ve managed to do over the last couple of weeks. But a lot of things can change between now and the end of the season. All the boys believe in what we’re trying to do.
“There’s nothing to fear in this league. I don’t think there is anybody better than us as a unit. We go into every game looking to win and keep a clean sheet. We’ve played every team now so we know what we’re up against.”