Tynecastle are propping up the Central Taxis Premier Division table and were on the wrong end of a 7-2 scoreline against Stirling University in midweek, but they are not throwing in the towel just yet.
Tomorrow they make the short journey to Meadowbank Stadium to face an Edinburgh City side who beat them 2-1 four weeks ago. However, the message from recently-appointed team director Douglas Dalglish to the clubs above Tynecastle is a bullish one.
He said: “We genuinely feel that we will stay up and all of the eight teams who are potentially in the relegation area are all beginning to feel nervous.”
Dalglish has taken on the role of team director since the departure of manager Tom Steven and Dalglish’s confirmed and new permanent staff of the East Seniors team consists of coaches Steve McKenzie, Chris Scott and Eddie Smeaton. “It was in the best interests of Tom and Tynecastle for him to move on and there are no hard feelings,” said Dalglish. “We have now appointed these three young coaches who are no longer classed as interim.”
Reflecting on Wednesday’s defeat away to Stirling University, Dalglish said: “Stirling were very good and we were away off the mark with too many of our players off the boil. Stirling are near enough full time and although in recent games we have been defending well, they were fitter, quicker, stronger and mentally more switched on than us.
“They will do exceptionally well and there is a marked difference between them and most other teams in the league.”
Tynecastle still have eight Premier Division games remaining in which to safeguard their place in the top flight and Dalglish added: “We are looking to win all eight games and pick up 24 points. Results between the bottom eight teams have varied considerably, with lots of coupon-busters amongst them. We are in there for the fight until it is mathematically impossible for us to stay up.
“We have winnable games coming up and we cannot possibly play as badly as we did against Stirling. We beat Heriot-Watt University 2-0 a month ago and that is the kind of form we want to repeat. We played Edinburgh City in the first game of our new regime and played really well. We were one up then missed a penalty and some bad habits crept into our play. In the dressing room afterwards we couldn’t believe we’d lost the game. We are all looking forward to tomorrow because if we play as we know we can play then I am confident that we can give City a game.”
Dalglish and his coaching staff are hopeful that they will have a full squad available – including striker Jamie Butler, who was missing for their game against Stirling.
Meanwhile, Ian McFarland, who made his return to the Edinburgh City line-up in their 3-1 midweek win against Lothian Thistle, said: “We need three points against Tynecastle in what is a very tight league. One win and we could move up to fifth place and a defeat takes us right back into the relegation mire. We are looking to break away with a target of finishing in fourth place.”
Gary Jardine, the City manager, was a relieved man after his team’s win against Lothian. He said: “I thought that Lothian were brilliant and played some cracking stuff in the first half. However, as well as they played, we sort of played into their hands by making too many passes. They probably deserved more than their one goal advantage at half-time.
“My players wanted to make amends in the second half and they did that. We pressed, we harried, we made fewer passes but they were more clinical passes and I think that we deserved our equaliser. After we had a man sent off it was about hitting Lothian on the break and we scored two goals doing that. It was good to have Ian [McFarland] back because he shows the kind of hunger and desire I want in my team.
“Tomorrow we face a Tynecastle side who will be disappointed at getting beat by Stirling, but the games which will dictate what teams are relegated are the ones when the bottom eight are playing each other. In the last game when we played Tynecastle, although we won 2-1, they were better than us for 70 minutes, so we know that it will be a tough game.”
Jardine will be without the suspended Shaun Harrison, although Jamie Bain could be fit and Kevin Domingo joins the squad. Kick-off is 2.30pm with prices £5 for adults and concessions £2.