City star glad to be free of ‘irritating’ face mask

Ian McFarland scored last weekend after taking off his mask mid-game. Pic: Kevin Illingworth
Ian McFarland scored last weekend after taking off his mask mid-game. Pic: Kevin Illingworth
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Edinburgh City’s Ian McFarland may have needed facial protection after a pre-season broken nose disrupted the start of his Ferrari Packaging Lowland League campaign, but there’s been no masking his team’s impressive start which they hope to continue at home to Whitehill Welfare tomorrow.

The champions have a 100 per cent record with five wins from five and sit top of the table as the only side with maximum points. McFarland missed their first three games, but was on hand last Saturday to head a second-half winner against Threave Rovers after ditching his protective face mask.

Now free of his ‘irritating’ accessory, the creative midfielder is fully focussed on adding more goals to his game and keeping City where they are.

“I was buzzing to get on the score sheet,” he said. “It’s something this season I’ve definitely got to contribute more in terms of goals. It’s been frustrating the first couple of weeks having the broken nose. It was just a forearm smash in the East Stirling friendly and as soon as it happened I knew it was broken and I’d miss the first couple of weeks.

“Gary [Jardine] did brilliantly in looking after me and getting me the mask but it was really hard to get used to – it was really bulky and wasn’t the best. In the second half last week I just took it off because it was irritating me so much. It wasn’t a lucky charm anyway as after I took it off I got my goal! Hopefully that’ll be me back in full flow now without the mask and hopefully I’ll get a few more goals from midfield.

“The mask was terrible. I felt like the boys were just putting up with me but they understood brilliantly that I was just trying to do the simple stuff, keeping the ball and playing safe instead of actually making a difference in the game. It was a nightmare to wear but it’s over with. You should have heard some of the comments in training, but I’ll keep that to myself!”

The Citizens have seen a peculiar pattern develop so far in relation to their home and away results. Two games at Meadowbank have brought two 3-0 victories, but three games on the road have required them to come from a goal down to win all three 2-1. Whilst those away comebacks have demonstrated the resilience and winning mentality Gary Jardine’s team possess, it’s not something McFarland wants to have to do on a regular basis.

“We’ve never panicked after going 1-0 down. I think when teams go one up against us it’s in their mind that they’re going to have to hold on to that lead and that helps us. It shows good character and resilience but we’d rather be on the front foot and go 1-0 up before other teams get a chance. It’s something we’ll have to stamp out.

“At home it’s been good. We’ve kept pretty much the same squad and everyone knows their role. We’ve scored six goals at home with none conceded.”

Tomorrow’s visitors were one of only two teams to leave Meadowbank with a point last season, and while it’s a vastly different squad this time around, McFarland knows what he’ll be up against.

“Whitehill is always one of the biggest games. I know their manager Grant [Carnie] who managed me at Tynecastle and a lot of their players from playing in the East of Scotland – they’ll be no pushovers.”