As manager Gary Jardine freely admitted, there were strong words spoken in the Edinburgh City dressing-room following last weekend’s 3-1 defeat at Clyde.
A second-half performance in which the hosts scored three unanswered goals was in stark contrast to the first, after which City lead at the interval and looked likely to increase the lead.
Jardine issued a stark warning to his players that they’ll go down if they don’t improve – their defending of set-pieces in particular. With that in mind, Elgin City may not be the ideal next opponents.
Jim Weir’s side visit Meadowbank tomorrow having taken maximum points against the League Two newcomers this season, scoring eight goals to City’s two. However, midfielder John Dunn expects a reaction to the Broadwood collapse regardless.
“There were a few stern words said afterwards and rightly so,” he said of the post-match debrief. “We played pretty well in the first half and were sticking to the game plan, but then in the second half we didn’t get going at all. We defended poorly. Clyde came back in to it and unfortunately for us it’s ended up in defeat.
“Something we’ve worked on for the last few years is defending from the front and being solid as a team. Normally when we go a goal up it’s something that we can build on, but last Saturday we’ve come out and haven’t played at all after half-time. If we do find ourselves in that situation again in the next seven games, we need to do a lot better.”
Having come on the back of three games unbeaten, Dunn sees last Saturday as something of a wake-up call as to how much work is still required to remain in the division.
“It’s definitely a reminder and maybe a wee reality check for us all,” he suggested. “We did have a couple of decent results before that but it’s a funny league, League Two. It’s very competitive and anybody can get a result against anybody else. It’s really hard to predict, as was shown with us beating Forfar the other week. We’ll be on our toes, that’s for sure.”
Personally, Dunn is pleased to be featuring regularly again, even if he has been required to cover the difficult position of right wing-back. “I’ve been in a couple of different positions the last few weeks but I’m happy to play anywhere really as long as I can contribute to the team,” he explained. “It’s been a funny season for me as I’ve been in and out of the team. Obviously the quality of the squad is improving all the time so if I have a bad game or even just an average performance, I could easily find myself back on the bench again.
“It’s a shift playing on the right. Aaron Dunsmore and [Jordan] Caddow have [played there as well], but most of the positions in our team, if you play there the manager demands that we all put in a shift and cover the ground. Whether it’s wingback or in midfield, it’s all about hard work, closing down and trying not to let the opposition play.”
Doing that well will be essential tomorrow, against a team Dunn is surprised aren’t closer to automatic promotion.
“They play really good football, get the ball down and pass it, are solid at the back and are good on the counter,” he said. “I’ve been really impressed by them. They’re still sitting in the play-off positions, but certainly from their performances against us they’re one of it not the best team in the league.”
To overcome such quality, Dunn says City need only look back to the aforementioned display against Forfar for inspiration. “We showed in that game that on our day, we’re capable of getting a result against anybody. We need to get back to basics and show a bit more of what we did in the first half last week and concentrate full for 90 minutes and turn a performance for 45 minutes in to one for the whole game.
“Even against Forfar, our first 45 wasn’t great but we turned it round, so the aim for this week is to perform for the full 90.”
Having won two Lowland League titles at a canter, Dunn is enjoying a more intense end to the season to ensure survival. “It’s a different challenge,” he said.
“There’s a slight mentality shift from the last two years, when we pretty much had the league wrapped up by now. This year it’ll be right to the death but that’s something we’re looking forward to.
“The last two years we had some pointless games in April and there wasn’t the same sort of buzz about the place. This season it’s still there and we’re still in good form despite last Saturday.”