After going seven unbeaten with a William Hill Scottish Cup third-round draw at East Fife in the week, Edinburgh City travel to Arbroath tomorrow looking to make it eight and potentially climb off the bottom of League Two.
Having gone months without a win since promotion, City now haven’t lost since October 15 at home to Clyde, putting together a run of form that has put boss Gary Jardine in contention for the division’s Manager of the Month award.
Competitive in all games aside from maybe the two defeats by Elgin, eventually getting rewards for their efforts has sent a surge of belief through the squad, according to striker Ross Guthrie.
“There’s definitely been a mental shift, yeah,” said the long-serving forward, who set up Ouzy See’s opener in Tuesday’s cup draw in Methil.
“There’s more composure on the ball, a wee bit more confidence in guys taking the ball in games. Speaking for myself, when you make that step up, you’re nervous to get on the ball and things like that. Nobody’s really blown us away apart from Elgin away in that first 20 minutes when they were 3-0 up but the guys are starting to realise we’re not that far off it. Beating Forfar in the Scottish was a massive result.”
A catalyst for City being a bit braver on the ball, according to Guthrie, has been the arrival of experienced midfielder Marc Laird. “The signing of Laird’s been a revelation,” he raved. “You see the way he plays, he’s got the confidence to take the ball in any situation. We all know about Craig Beattie and what he’s done as he played up here in the Premiership, but Marc’s played full-time football for 15/16 years. He’s played at Wembley with Millwall and he was telling me stories about playing QPR at Loftus Road and things like that. He’s just your run of the mill guy though – he’s the quietist guy going, so you wouldn’t really expect him that big on the pitch but he’s unbelievable. His touch, his vision – he’s a class act.
“I think we’ve always had the ability in the middle of the park, but he just adds that we bit composure when he can take the ball in, see a pass and maybe kill the game a wee bit. That’s exactly what we needed right up the middle. Then you’ve got guys like [Joe] Mbu at the back to feed off. Mbu’s been telling us all along that we’re good enough, it was just a case of us believing it.”
For ‘Guff’ himself, a regular run in his preferred attacking role has seen his own form reach a good level, helped by increased fitness. “The gaffer spoke to me at the start of the season and asked me to trust him,” he explained. “Given my record in previous years, that’s something I massively respected from him. There’s games I’m champing at the bit to play and I maybe played Tuesday night and want to play Saturday but the legs might still be a wee bit weary.
“This season I’ve upped the gym and got a personal trainer who’s helping me out as well now. To be honest all of us have had to do that. We train on a Monday night now and the gaffer’s thinking we can’t go as hard, and he used to love a Tuesday night running session! He’s expecting us to do our own bit and I think it’s starting to show. This is probably the fittest I’ve been in a long time.
“I wish I’d had this attitude two or three years ago. You sort of always think of putting hard work in but I can actually see the results now. You don’t feel as off the pace. It was always going to be a step up and you need to give yourself every chance. Doing that by putting in the work on your own is the least you can do. You grow up wanting to play professional football and now we’ve got the chance, you have to try and take it because you don’t know how long it’s going to last.”
On current form, there’s a chance it shall be at least another season.