When first plays second in the league – especially in the second half of the season – it’s naturally billed as a potential title decider, but no-one at Edinburgh City is viewing tomorrow’s home Lowland League encounter with Gretna 2008 that way.
The Meadowbank club are already five points clear of their nearest challengers with three games in hand, but defender Shaun Harrison insists he and his team-mates aren’t entertaining thoughts of championships as yet.
The centre-back, who netted his first goals of the season with a brace in Wednesday’s 7-1 rout of Preston Athletic, is adamant they’re focused on three points and nothing more when it comes to Gretna.
“It’s a big game, but we’ll keep taking it one game at a time at the moment,” said Harrison. “We’re playing well just now and Wednesday night showed we can do it under pressure but we just go for the next game. We’ve prepared ourselves and trained on Thursday night so we’ll see.”
While “focusing on the next game” can be something of a cliché in football, you get the impression Harrison genuinely means it after a long period of not having a next game to concentrate on this season.
A broken foot is a big enough injury for a player to deal with, but to do it twice in quick succession meant a lengthy lay-off for the defender.
“I was talking about that to the boys at half time on Wednesday after I scored the goals,” he said. “It was six or seven weeks I was out to start with, was back in then another six or seven weeks when I broke it again.
“To be back scoring goals and helping the team, I’m absolutely delighted. We’re up there [at the top of the league] just now, so hopefully we’ll get there.”
While happy at seeing his colleagues make such a stunning unbeaten start to the season, Harrison admitted it only served to compound his injury frustration.
“You better believe it was frustrating sitting there for weeks. Just as well some of the boys took a couple of knocks and I managed to get myself back in,” he joked.
“That’s five or six weeks I’ve been back in now so I’m absolutely delighted. There are a lot of guys still there, sitting on the touchlines waiting to get a game.
“We’ve still got some decent players to come back in. With Joe [Mbu] missing the other night it just proves we can do it when guys like him aren’t available.”
There was a suspicion that the break in league action and a failure to record a League Cup victory – they lost at Spartans and drew at home to Whitehill – might disrupt City’s momentum after the New Year.
However, any notion of stuttering on a return to league business was dismissed with Wednesday’s thrashing of Preston, and Harrison is confident they can continue in the same vein. “That was our first game back having not played a league game since December so it’s been one of those where you want to get back to the league, start winning more games and get back to how we were before the Christmas break,” he said.
“I think we showed we were back on Wednesday night and we did with a wee bit of quality, so hopefully we can kick on and do that again.”