Edinburgh City boss Gary Jardine welcomed the freshness that Ferrari Packaging Lowland League newcomers Cumbernauld Colts have brought to the division ahead of their meeting at Meadowbank tomorrow.
Halfway through their maiden season, the Colts sit fourth in the table. It has echoed the successful starts made by other recent additions East Kilbride and BSC Glasgow in recent years, and Jardine believes it’s benefited a league with plenty of “traditional” names. “I think one of things they’ve had in their favour is that although they’re new to it, they’re also from a new catchment area,” he explained. “That means players who are local or within a radius of 20 miles are keen ship to the Lowland League and play for the new team.
“The established sides are from either the Lothians or the south in Gretna, Dalbeattie and Threave. In the main, the teams in the Lothians are signing all the same players and a lot of the players at Gretna, Dalbeattie or Threave have played for two or three of the clubs.
“It’s a breath of fresh air. It doesn’t make it any easier – I think BSC and East Kilbride have gotten stronger over the years they’ve been in and Cumbernauld Colts have come in and done the same. They’ve started like a house on fire with some of their players stepping down from the SPFL and others are desperate to prove themselves stepping up from the lower leagues, the Juniors and top amateur sides. They have no fear and certainly away from home they’ve enjoyed it so we’ll need to be at our best on Saturday, no doubt.”
A stoppage-time Ross Allum goal gave City a 2-1 win at Broadwood earlier in the season, and Jardine is expecting a similarly tight affair tomorrow.
“I probably say this every week but this will prove to be one of our hardest games of the season,” he said.
“They’re unbeaten away from home and they’ve only dropped two points. They enjoy playing away from home – maybe the it’s new experience of the Lowland League, but they’re certainly going to grounds with no fear and I’m sure they’ll enjoy Meadowbank as well. It was a difficult game when we played them earlier in the season.
“Their success has been built on stability, the same shape and the way they play. We had to change our formation that day to counter what they had and could probably count ourselves fortunate to take the three points. We know a bit more about them now so we’ll do our homework for a tough game. Three points are needed or Spartans and Stirling will close the gap.”
City haven’t been able to play since a 5-0 rout of Edinburgh University at the end of November, and Jardine’s players are desperate to resume the run that has them clear at the top once again. “It’s a horrible stage of the season when you don’t know what’s going to happen with games being on,” he said.
“We’ve trained every week when we’ve not had one but we’d all rather play games. I’m sure this week will be on and we’re looking forward to it. In the howling gales we tried to play Berwick Rangers a couple of weeks ago and it got abandoned half-way through. It was probably a bad idea at the time to play it but it shows you how desperate we are to keep playing and stay match fit.
“It’s allowed some extra time for guys to get fit. Joe Mbu’s ready to step back. He’s a big influence on our squad so we’re glad to have him back.”