Joe Mbu spent five years at Cowdenbeath, winning successive promotions and lifting the Second Division Championship trophy, but he insists there will be no room for sentiment as Edinburgh City look to send the Blue Brazil closer to potential relegation from the SPFL.
Gary Locke’s team will arrive at Meadowbank tomorrow as the league’s bottom club, but only four points behind their hosts in ninth. After last weekend’s win over Clyde, a second successive triumph could lift Cowden above the Bully Wee and cut City’s cushion to just one point.
A home victory however, would re-establish a seven-point gap and place City within touching distance of confirming their safety with just four games remaining.
With it increasingly looking like one from those three for the Pyramid Play-Off spot, Mbu is only worried about who it isn’t rather than who it might be. “As long as it’s not Edinburgh City,” he stated. “I do feel, that if the team from this league applies itself, it’ll be a very tough ask for the team from the Highland League or the Lowland League to beat them. This league has been very competitive this year and if whoever it is applies themselves as they have in most games this season, it’ll be very tough for whoever wants to come up, just as it was for us. Luckily we managed to get there in the end.
“A few people asked me how I thought that game last week [Cowdenbeath v Clyde] would go and I did say that I fancied Cowdenbeath to take something from the game. It’s worked out that way and they’ve got the three points, they’ve cut the gap and they’re right on the heels of us and Clyde.
“There’s still plenty of competition still to go though. We could win, Berwick could lose and we could go above them on goal difference so they’re still kind of in it as well. They’ve got a bit more of a gap, but if you look at it from the bottom to us it’s four and then three to them, so it’s still really close.”
Mbu feels having the Wee Rangers above to aim for will help City in keeping away from the bottom. “I’ve never been in this situation before, but it does help to have a team above you close by,” he said. “It gives you that carrot and extra motivation to catch them. If there was no-one close to us, it might have been a bit harder but looking to catch those above you is always the way you have to look at it.”
To have their fate in their own hands with five games to go is something Mbu would have jumped at given City’s start to life as a league club. “I’d definitely have taken this at the start of the season,” he admitted. “To be honest, we’re in a better position than the club targeted – we’re one position above it. As long as we weren’t in the relegation position.
“It took the boys a while to realise what the league was all about. Since they have, the results have been coming in so I’m quietly confident that if we keep applying ourselves the way we have done, we’ll still get results from now until the end of the season.”
How highly would achieving that end-of-season goal rank in Mbu’s career? “It’d definitely be up there,” he assessed. “There’s no better story than what’s happened to Edinburgh City. For the players to get introduced, to be the team from the Lowland League to beat the team from the Highland League, then to win promotion to the SPFL and remain in that league. Hopefully the next step would be to establish themselves in that league for years to come.
“I believe most neutrals want to see us stay up as well. A lot of guys I work with and know say it’s great to see it changed up a bit. I think the next stage is not to see teams play each other four times and to have a bigger league structure, but I don’t know if that’ll happen any time in the near future.”