Jordan Caddow is hoping Edinburgh City can take advantage of ‘home’ comforts when Stenhousemuir visit Ainslie Park tomorrow.
City have made return trips of more than 600 miles to Peterhead and Elgin in the past two weeks. A promising opening 45 minutes in the north east was undone by an early sending off and penalty in the second half, while a last-minute equaliser at Borough Briggs denied manager James McDonaugh an elusive first win in charge.
A maiden home match of the month against The Warriors provides a brief respite from travel as City are due at Annan on the 23rd, and Caddow hopes home advantage will help turn recent improved performances into maximum points.
“It’s been a great Christmas present so I’d like to thank the SPFL for that,” said the defender, tongue firmly in cheek. “It’s been absolutely fantastic – we can’t even get a night out sorted at Christmas – we had to have it in November! Hats off to them for the fixture list. It what is though. If they come out like that, you just have to deal with it.
“It’s maybe subconscious, but folk see you’re going up to Elgin, going down to Annan – you kind of start the whole day with a negative. I’m hoping Stenhousemuir think that on Saturday. ‘It’s Ainslie Park on the astro, aw naw’ – that type of thing.
“Getting back on home turf is something we need to start turning to our advantage. I know it’s not our park as such but in football in general, you need to make your home ground somewhere that teams are afraid to come. You want them thinking ‘by the way, I don’t want to be going to Ainslie Park, Edinburgh City are a bit of a nightmare to play’.
McDonaugh admitted his players spoke about overcoming a sort of mental block in order to start winning games again following the draw at Elgin. “I said to the gaffer at full time I think it’s been like that for a while at Edinburgh City,” Caddow revealed. “Before the gaffer or anyone arrived, and especially since we came in to League Two, we’d go a goal up and then just try and kill the game. Unless we got a break away and put one away, then it’s two or three.
“Rather than that we’ve just kind of sat in and defended well all the time. I don’t know if that’s just set in a lot of folk and subconsciously you set up to defend to try and win 1-0.
“I think once we score, we need to keep pushing. Try and have that mentality where you say ‘lets get another one, lets get two, three, four.’ Even if you do concede, you’re still being positive. If you look at the highlights from last week, just after they’ve scored we’re straight back up the pitch in their corner. It’s just getting that quality.
“Ultimately though, you need to look at the bigger picture. We went to Elgin and got a point and after all that travelling, it’s not a bad result.”
Even if a mentality change is needed, some good luck wouldn’t go amiss. “When you’re fighting at the bottom of the table, things just don’t seem to go for you,” Caddow explained. “It always seems to just be one mistake. For their goal we could have maybe reorganised better for the corner, but they’ve pushed an extra guy forward and the ball in the box finds the one guy that’s not marked, he hits the underside of the bar and it goes in.
“You could put 100 corners in and it’s headed clear or he puts it over the bar. It just seems to be that luck that’s lacking and sometimes you need that wee bit of fortune. I’m praying that’s what we get on Saturday.”
McDonaugh will complete a full round of league fixtures tomorrow since losing to the same opposition in the Scottish Cup for his first match, and Caddow believes City are in better shape for this one two months on.
“It was kind of a free hit,” he said. “It was the Scottish Cup and ultimately League One or Two teams are rarely going to get close to the latter stages. It was a better performance than the previous week when they beat us 3-0. We’ll be better prepared and the Elgin game will stand us in good stead.”