Slowly but surely, Edinburgh City manager James McDonaugh is coming round to the idea that he may need a rethink about his side’s aspirations this season.
McDonaugh, who took over from Gary Jardine a year ago next month, has always maintained the club’s focus is improving on last year’s ninth-placed finish. That is still the case. However, having reeled off six out of seven victories in Ladbrokes League Two, a run that sees the Citizens two points clear of Peterhead at the top, McDonaugh accepts there may come a time, should their excellent run continue, he may have to adopt a different stance. Ahead of Cowdenbeath’s visit to Ainslie Park tomorrow, McDonaugh told the Evening News: “We want to keep this run going but we’ve got to remember it’s not even October yet. If you can get 15 points per quarter then the majority of the time you’ll be looking at the play-offs. With us having 18 so far with two games still to play in this quarter then we’re ahead of that target.
“It’s not because of a lack of ambition but we’ve still got to remember where we’ve come from. We’ll have a spell where we can’t win for three or four games so we need to make sure when that happens that the players dig deep.
“But I think if we were to get another 15 points by Christmas then we would have to be looking at making the play-offs. We’ll take things as they come and readjust accordingly.
“I think as a manager you’re just trying to do things properly. You’ll win some games, you’ll lose some, and obviously depending on the balance of that will determine where you end up in the table.
“Cowdenbeath are better than what the league table shows. I respect what Gary Bollan and Mark Fotheringham have done in keeping them in the league. I think they will be up the middle of the table in no time so we are expecting a real tough game tomorrow.”
Most of City’s plaudits have been aimed towards their forward-thinking players so far but the manager was quick to compliment a defence that has leaked just three goals in Scottish football’s fourth tier this term.
“The boys have responded brilliantly since the Motherwell defeat in the Betfred Cup. We were 5-0 down at half-time and you say to yourself ‘oh my goodness where do we go from here?’” McDonaugh explained.
“Aside from the Queen of the South game (4-0) in the cup, the back four have been absolutely brilliant. We’ve only conceded three goals in the league and had four clean sheets so we’ve been fairly solid and everyone has played their part.
“It’s been a collective effort. Obviously, the goalscorers get their names in the paper but it has been a real team effort.
“We’re not going to be top every week but we need to make sure we’re competing and don’t give away three points too easily. You don’t get anything for free in this league.
“I have had a fairly consistent team so far. The players have only really found themselves out of the team due to injury so it’s not as if anybody has been dropped. It’s just been those who have found themselves out for a couple of weeks have found it so tough to get back in. The likes of Allan Smith was in at the start of the season and now it’s Scott Shepherd, and Kieran Stewart too has been replaced by Liam Henderson.
“It’s difficult to change a winning team. t’s just one of those things because if you do change it and you get beat then you’ll regret it.
“It’s healthy competition for places but as I keep saying we’re looking at over 40 matches this season so we’re going to need everybody.”