Forfar’s Danny Denholm would love to see old club Edinburgh City retain their SPFL status come the end of the season, although he has his own pressing Ladbrokes League Two title concerns to worry about first.
Gary Bollan’s table-toppers head to Meadowbank tomorrow with a healthy five-point lead over closest challengers and local rivals Arbroath.
City, who were idle last weekend after their game at Cowdenbeath succumbed to frost, are seventh. With just three points separating fourth and tenth, they will simultaneously be looking over their shoulders and ahead, with a play-off spot not much further away.
Denholm, who himself was a Citizen during the 2009/10 season, would love to see his former team-mates finish as high as possible while he leaves League Two behind via automatic promotion with Forfar.
“I’d love to see them stay up,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of fond memories of Meadowbank and I’m pals with a lot of the boys there. I really hope they can continue going up the league. They could even push for the play-offs. It’s very tight down there so if they get a couple of wins, you never know but I’m sure their priority will be staying up.
“In terms of ourselves, it’s still early days and there’s plenty of games to go, but hopefully we can keep it going. The points are necessary at the moment because everyone else seems to be winning. Every game now we have to keep winning – the pressure’s going to be on. We need to at least match Arbroath’s results but hopefully they’ll stumble and it’ll be less pressurised.”
That pressure continues tomorrow against an opponent that has proved a match for the Loons this season. An opening day 3-2 win for Denholm’s team was followed up with a 0-0 Scottish Cup draw before the return league match at Station Park ended 1-1.
The cup replay brought City’s first win of the season of any kind, Ross Allum’s strike earning a 1-0 victory. While much of the focus following that result was on City and their long unbeaten run, Forfar responded just as impressively, and have only lost once since.
“We went through a bad period prior to that defeat as well,” Denholm recalled. “At that point the confidence was dead low and to be fair to the gaffer, he changed things up. He dropped a few established names and we got a really good result the following week so kicked on from there.
“It hit home that we needed to get a few wins on the board and we did that so managed to relax a wee bit. Arbroath are on our tails though, so hopefully we can keep the gap at five and then extend it.”
To do so, Denholm is well aware of what will be required to leave what has become a difficult venue with all three points. “I’m not surprised City are in the position they’re in because I think they’re a really good side having played them four times,” he appraised. “The run they went on was probably better than I expected to be honest, but they’ve done really well and Gary Jardine’s got back-to-back Manager of the Month awards.
“Gary was assistant to Shaun Stevens when I was there, but I think he was always earmarked for the job. He’s a really good coach but he’s also a really good man-manager and good with the players. Having played for City himself he knows a lot of the boys. I was very impressed with him as a coach when I was there.”
Being an Edinburgh native himself, Denholm will be up against more than one familiar face at the Commonwealth Stadium. “It’ll be good to see a few of them,” he said. “I was in the under-19 team with boys like Ross Guthrie who’s still there. Ian McFarland, Shaun Harrison and boys like Jordan Caddow were at the club too. Chris McKee was at Stirling Uni with me too so there’s a lot of boys I know there and it’s no surprise that they’ve kicked on. They were young when they first broke in the first team and they’ve just continued to develop.
“They’re a really difficult team to play against. They have a different formation than most teams – it’s sometimes a back five or a back three. They’re really well organised and difficult to break down. We’ve found that out in only being able to score two goals in three games against them and before that were banging the goals in for fun. We’re under no illusions how difficult a place Meadowbank is to go and play but we’ll be fired up for this one.”
City will be without on-loan defender Ryan Porteous for tomorrow’s game as he will play for Hibs Under-20s on Sunday in their Scottish Youth Cup tie against Celtic, but fellow Easter Road loanee Aaron Dunsmore is available for City.