Edinburgh City will tomorrow return to the ground where they made their SPFL League Two status a reality when they take on Stenhousemuir.
It will be the first time City have taken to the artificial surface at Ochilview since their historic 1-0 play-off second leg victory over East Stirlingshire almost 18 months ago.
Now they arrive as a fully-fledged SPFL club having avoided an immediate return to the dreaded relegation play-off in their first campaign. That’s the aim this year again, and experienced defender Jordan Caddow is hoping for another positive result at a stadium that holds fond memories.
“I never got on that day,” Caddow recalled. “It’s still probably the best feeling I’ve ever had in football. I think we started off that season by playing a pre-season friendly here as well so it’s definitely not an unfamiliar ground, but it will be a very unfamiliar team that we’re playing against. Stenhousemuir have started pretty well, they’re sitting third and had a good result last week at home against Berwick.
“We just need to focus on ourselves and roll out all the negatives and take the positives from the Berwick game and the Clyde game and even from the games where we’ve lost, go out there and try and do the business.”
This is the second week in succession that City will play one of the relegated sides from League One. Last Saturday ended in a somewhat harsh, albeit ultimately heavy home defeat against Peterhead. Caddow expects a similarly tough test against the Warriors.
“I would think they’d be similar, but again, I’m personally not really focused on Stenhousemuir,” he said. “We’ve played Peterhead, who are probably the best footballing side we’ve faced. The way they play the game, Gary’s [Jardine] right in that they’re professional on how they move the ball; their strikers know how to take people in to positions they don’t want to be in.
“We can only take the lessons and positives from that into our own game. We’ve got vast amounts of experience in our team now and if everyone’s on their game, I think we can be right up there challenging.”
A Tuesday night friendly against Kelty Hearts helped push last week’s defeat out of the system, but proved a reminder of City’s need to tighten up. “We got beat 4-2,” said Caddow. “It was more a game for a lot of the boys who haven’t played as much. We’ve got boys starting to come back from injury now like big Chris McKee, Shaun Harrison and Josh Walker, who got a run. Also a few of the younger boys like Calum Hall, who haven’t had much game time. We’ve conceded three and four goals in games, and four again on Tuesday night so defensively, it’s an issue. We need to start tightening up at the back. Going forward we do create chances and it’s about taking them, but we need to sort it out at the back. The whole back five need to take a look at ourselves. It’s obviously about the team collectively but when you start leaking goals the first thing you look at is your defence, so no position’s safe. You need to be performing.”
After being in and out of the starting line up last year, mainly due to the good form of Aaron Dunsmore rather than his own displays, Caddow has had a welcome run at either centre back or right wing back so far this term.
“It’s been not too bad in that sense, but there’s always room for improvement,” he insisted. “It was my 33rd birthday on Tuesday so I’m not getting any younger! It’s about trying to keep the young boys out of the positions now. But I think the gaffer knows me well enough now and he knows what he’s going to get out of me. That’s why I’ve played – I’ve played in that position for a long time.”
City may sit second bottom of Ladbrokes League Two but, given they’ve won twice in half the time it took them to do so once last term, Caddow is keeping things in perspective.
“It’s just a very, very odd league,” he said. “Anybody can beat anybody – there never seems to be a team that’s running away with it. Stirling have started well but lost to Clyde. Six points separate bottom and fourth so there’s never a big gap. We know a win can see us jump a few places.”