Edinburgh City manager James McDonaugh has urged his players to make amends for last weekend’s sloppiness at Berwick by putting Stirling Albion to the sword at Ainslie Park.
The Ladbrokes League Two leaders were ahead 2-0 at Shielfield Park up until a calamitous five-minute spell allowed the hosts to snatch a point in the dying embers of the match – a result that allowed title rivals Peterhead to narrow the gap to just three points with a game in hand.
Disappointed his side were unable to see out the game and travel back across the Border with all three points, McDonaugh hopes there is some extra fire in his players’ bellies when the Binos descend on the Capital tomorrow afternoon.
However, the Citizens boss isn’t going to let his frustrations at Berwick overshadow what has been a remarkable first half to the campaign in which the club has picked up 44 points from a possible 54.
“Last week was two points thrown away never mind dropped,” explained McDonaugh, who has surprisingly been overlooked for December’s manager of the month award. “I was looking for answers from the players as to what happened afterwards because it was the complete opposite to how we’ve defended all season. It was a disappointing five minutes out of 94 but it’s difficult to be critical because we’ve taken 44 points from the first 18 games.
“We totally controlled the game. I think we had almost 70 per cent possession, but that doesn’t win you games. We didn’t get a third to see the game out. I didn’t really see how they were going to score but we didn’t deal with the balls into the box and we were punished.
“There’s no point in crying over spilt milk as over the course of the season you get what you deserve. Tomorrow is a chance for the players to respond to the last five minutes against Berwick. Let’s go and show what we’re made of. I hope the players have the bit between their teeth to go and win the game.”
McDonaugh admits sitting top of the pile at the halfway stage wasn’t in the script prior to a ball being kicked. However, the former Falkirk assistant has been irked by suggestions from personnel outwith the club who believe City’s high-profile players are merely there because of the wages they can offer.
“We’ve exceeded expectations with where we’re currently at, make no mistake about it,” McDonaugh said. “I don’t think we’re too many points away from guaranteeing ourselves a play-off spot. But equally you can put all the effort in to try and win the league only to be pipped at the end.
“People outside look at us and they think they know what we’re spending on players and it’s laughable the figures that they come up with. The players are here because they want to be. They enjoy the training and what we’re trying to build.
“I think it’s disrespectful to say they just come for the money because they’re not on the money that people think. We know what we spend. We know it’s not the worst in the league but it’s nowhere near the best.
“We need to get back to winning ways tomorrow. At the start of their season Stirling were missing three or four of their best players. They obviously have changed managers and Kevin (Rutkiewicz) wants to put his own stamp on the team. I wouldn’t be surprised if they made a late run for fourth place.
“I think last week reinforced that we’ve got to have both eyes on ourselves. We cannot afford any complacency.”