James McDonaugh’s team have already climbed up to second place in League Two despite not being at their best in the early weeks of the campaign.
Centre-back Balatoni is excited by the possibilities once his side properly click into gear. “We obviously had a terrible start with the result at Cove Rangers but we’re unbeaten in four games and we’re within three points of top spot even though we’ve not hit our best form yet,” the 28-year-old told the Evening News. “I think a lot of our players are still to play their best football and we’ve still got plenty time in the season to go so I think we can be pretty happy with where we are at the moment. We’re positive we’ll have a good season.
“We’ve got ourselves into a decent position and we know that if we keep our run going we can potentially pull away from quite a few teams. We know Cove are going to be up there. They’re flying at the moment and full credit to them but leagues aren’t won in August or September. We know that if we play to our ability we’ll be right up there challenging.”
City led the way for long periods of last season before finishing third after stuttering at the business end. Balatoni believes last term’s travails will stand the Ainslie Park side in good stead as they bid for promotion this time round. “Last season it was new for the whole club to be up at the top because we had been used to battling at the bottom in the previous couple of seasons,” he said. “As a club, we went from just fighting to pick up any victory we could to suddenly challenging for promotion. Without being disrespectful, the club wasn’t used to being up there. But now we’ve had that experience and we know what’s needed to take us that step further, it can only benefit us.”
City host Annan this weekend as they bid to get back to winning ways following last weekend’s topsy-turvy 3-3 draw away to Elgin City. “Any team would be frustrated at drawing after leading 2-0 but by the same token we were also 3-2 down and staring at a loss and we came back and got a point,” said Balatoni. “Elgin’s been a hard place for us to go in recent times so it’s not the worst point we’ve ever had. We’ve got to just take it and move on.”
City have won both of their league matches at Ainslie Park this season and face a tough test to maintain their perfect home record against an Annan side expected to be in the promotion mix under Peter Murphy.
“Annan are a good solid team,” said Balatoni. “I played with Peter Murphy at Ayr United so I know what he’s like. We beat them twice last season and they beat us twice so we’ll have to be at our best. We’ve had a break last weekend, which we didn’t really have last year because of the cups, so hopefully that will help us this weekend.”