Players ordered to ignore standings and focus on City

Scott Gormley for Whitehill and John Williams for Tynecastle
Scott Gormley for Whitehill and John Williams for Tynecastle
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Garry AITCHISON, the Civil Service Strollers manager, is looking forward to locking horns with John Green and Gary Jardine – the Edinburgh City co-managers – in tomorrow’s Central Taxis Premier Division derby.

“I know from experience that both John and Gary will have City working extremely hard,” said Aitchison. “City also like to play football as they proved against us in the Image Printers Cup earlier in the season when they beat us 6-3. We learned from that defeat and there will be no repeat because we will not be so gung-ho and we’ll retain the ball better and for longer by not giving it away cheaply.”

The Strollers go into this game knowing that three points – and results elsewhere going their way – could see them move into the lofty position of second in the Premier Division, although Aitchison refuses to read too much into the current league table.

“The table is quite strange and I have told our players not to look at it too closely, just concentrate on putting points on the board,” emphasised Aitchison. “Our aim is to pick up points to ensure our place in the top division and then we can see where that takes us.”

The Strollers travelled away last Saturday where they beat bottom club Selkirk 3-0 although the game was goal-less at half-time. “In the first half, the Selkirk goalkeeper John Dodds had a couple of really good saves,” said Aitchison. “I decided on a tactical change at half-time and brought on John Dunn, whose pace changed the game because we scored three goals in a 15-minute spell early in the second half.

“Chris Inglis scored the first goal which will give him confidence because he has been doing very well without scoring. His goal also helped settled the nerves and Craig Anderson and Scott Gormley added further goals to make the rest of the game more comfortable. I was delighted with our performance and a clean sheet. One of our problems this season is that we have not been able to field the same back four in consecutive games and we are trying to rectify that situation and get back to normality.

“Tomorrow, we face a very good Edinburgh City team with players like Robbie Ross who I regard as a great centre-forward while, in midfield, Andy Howat can open up the opposition. We will need to do better than we did in our earlier meeting.

“This could be the closest Premier Division title race for a long time and we want to be part of that challenge.”

Aitchison welcomes back Michael Sommerville, although Liam Jack is suspended and Lotfi Barbirou injured.

Edinburgh City’s form going into this game has seen them beat Stirling University 2-1 and Leith Athletic 5-0, although sandwiched between these wins was a 2-0 defeat from newcomers Duns in the SFA South Region Challenge Cup.

“We took a lot out of that defeat from Duns when we went back to the training ground and spoke about our performance,” stressed John Green, City’s co-manager.

“We asked for a reaction and we certainly got that in last week’s 5-0 win against Leith, which was a good win and good medicine after Duns.

“I think that says a lot about the quality of our players because we only had 13 fit players out of a total squad of 23. The boys are working very hard and I am more than confident that when we get everybody fit we can go from strength to strength and be a match for any team.

“We put six past Strollers in an earlier cup tie and they will be out to make amends for their disappointing afternoon. We may have to play players out of position and this week we have enhanced our squad by signing two Spanish players who look very good.”

Green and his co-manager, Gary Jardine, will give late fitness tests to brothers Robbie and Kenny Ross while Miles Hunter made a return to training this week.

The game kicks off at the earlier time of 1.30pm at the Telford College/Civil Service Sports Ground on Marine Drive.