Edinburgh University were undone by an individual error the last time they faced Edinburgh City.
Skipper Duncan Black is determined to make sure there is no repeat when the teams reconvene at East Peffermill tomorrow.
Table-topping City won 1-0 in the corresponding Lowland League fixture at Meadowbank back in September thanks to one such lapse, but Black, whose side have been working rigorously to cut out the costly mistakes, believes the Students are now far less likely to gift their opponents opportunities.
“We’ve been working on sharpening up defensively,” said the centre-back. “Earlier in the season it’s something we didn’t do. Last season we were fairly solid defensively, but this season we’ve given away some silly goals at times which, with the step up in the league and in the level of competitors, isn’t good. We identified that early on and we’ve been working on it and have hopefully managed to stamp it out.”
Given this is the Students’ maiden season in the Lowland League, it is perhaps understandable that they needed a period of adjustment. Whilst not citing this as an excuse for sitting third from bottom, Black admitted they did need time to find their feet.
“It’s definitely been a step up that I’ve noticed myself being a centre half,” he said. “If you give strikers any sniff at goal then nine times out of ten they’ll take those chances, so it’s something we’ve had to acclimatise to. Last season we could maybe get away with lapses in concentration but not so much this season. It’s something we’ve had to get used to but I think we’re getting to that stage now.”
That step up in quality is highlighted when facing unbeaten league leaders, as they do tomorrow. Dorian Ogunro’s side can go into the match buoyed by their performance against City at Meadowbank earlier in the season, when they lost only to a late goal from Peter Stenhouse. They also demonstrated their ability to hold their own against the league’s top teams when they drew 2-2 with champions Spartans in the inaugural match at their redeveloped East Peffermill ground at the start of the season.
“We’ll definitely take belief from the last game against Edinburgh City,” said Black. “We were quite unfortunate to lose that – it was one of those lapses in concentration that cost us which I think we’ve tightened up on that now.
“I think we’re able to beat any team in the league on our day.
“We’ve had some good performances against the bigger teams, but haven’t been able to get the ball in the net. We always seem to rise to the challenge against them and we enjoy playing them down at Peffermill as well, so we’re looking forward to it. We have Stirling, Edinburgh City then Spartans on the trot so it’s a good run of games to have.”
Following Wednesday’s 1-1 home draw with their Stirling counterparts, Uni now sit 11th in the Lowland League table, above BSC Glasgow on goal difference. Consecutive wins over Preston Athletic and Threave Rovers in November propelled them away from the foot of the table, and the skipper maintains he and his team-mates are looking up the table rather than over their shoulders.
“The objective now is moving up the league,” he said.