McDonaugh: City can’t fall further behind league leaders

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McDonaugh’s City led for most of the season (Credit: Ross Cowper-Fraser)

Edinburgh City manager James McDonaugh has urged his side to keep winning games as they look to close the gap to Peterhead in the Scottish League Two.

City have been league leaders for much of the season, but following a 1-0 loss at Clyde on Saturday, they are now five points behind Peterhead with nine games remaining.

McDonaugh’s men bounced back from defeat with a 1-0 victory over Berwick Rangers on Tuesday, but the manager admitted City can’t afford to fall any further behind.

He said: “There probably was more pressure to be fair [on Tuesday] because we don’t want to fall further behind.

“Peterhead could’ve gone eight points ahead of us yesterday so we wanted to hang in there, that’s what we did.

 

“At this stage of the season we have more points than the team that won it last season; Montrose had 55 [points] after 27 games and we’ve got 58, so it shows you how well we’ve done.

“But it also shows you how good Clyde and Peterhead are as well. It’s just been a terrific league and sometimes you’ve got to just look at other teams and say how well they’ve done as well.”

City have been outstanding defensively this season, with goalkeeper Calum Antell claiming a clean sheet in almost half the games he has played.

However, McDonaugh admitted that he wants more creativity from his side going forward in the push for the title.

He added: “I would like to see a little more created in the final third.

“That’s the one thing we have to work on.

“We’ve played 27 league games [and] we’ve had 13 clean sheets in the league which is a fantastic return. Almost every second game, and Blair Henderson [has] obviously scored a fantastic amount of goals.

“I think we just need some other players to chip in with a bit more creativity and goal scoring.”

City head to Queen’s Park on Saturday, a team they have beaten three times already this season.

Although McDonaugh is aware beating them for a fourth time will be difficult, he added that there is now an added impetus on winning games as their destiny is now out of their hands.

He said: “You could say we have to win them all.

“We’re in a good position to still be challenging, we just want to try and win as many games as we can between now and the end of the season.

“If we were to finish top four and make the play-offs that would be a fantastic achievement. What I’m trying to say is eighth would have been an improvement because we finished ninth last season, and that’s a fact.”

“So to go from ninth place, fighting relegation, to then be going into a promotion play-off is fantastic. I think people maybe just get a bit carried away when you’ve been top for a lot of the weeks of the season.

“I think at the end of the day if we were to finish top four, three, two, one or whatever, it’s still a great achievement to be going in with something to fight for in the play-offs.”

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Peterhead match “like any other game” says Edinburgh City boss

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Edinburgh can go seven points clear tomorrow (Credit: Ross Cowper-Fraser)

Edinburgh City manager James McDonaugh has revealed his side will approach tomorrow’s top of the table clash against Peterhead “like any other game.”

City lie four points clear of Peterhead at the top of Scottish League Two, but the Aberdeenshire side have two games in hand.

However a win tomorrow would edge Edinburgh seven points clear with their destiny in their own hands.

“It’s a game we can’t go into just hoping to sit back, we have to go and try and win the game because if they were to win it with their games in hand we’d be quite a bit behind them,” McDonaugh told EN4 News.

 

When asked if he would approach the game differently, the City boss said every game is just as important as the other.

“No I don’t think we have to approach it any differently at all,” he said.

“We have to just go and try and win the game. There’s 13 games to go and we’ve got Peterhead to play twice so it’s an important game but they’re all important games.

“There’s no point in beating Peterhead and then losing the next one or losing to Albion Rovers and beating Peterhead, they’re all worth three points so we just have to treat it like every other game.”

City head into the match looking to keep up momentum after a difficult January. A 3-1 win at home against Albion Rovers last weekend has got the team “back to winning ways” with a full squad now available.

McDonaugh has previously expressed concern to EN4 News about a lack of players, but the signing of Liam Henderson on loan from Hamilton Academical and a fitter squad have helped eradicate the issue.

“Before the players were there but they were just unavailable through injury or whatever,” McDonaugh explained.

“Even during that time we were able to keep winning but now we’ve got some players back it’s obviously harder to pick the team. But I think we’ll need everybody for the last three of four months of the season.”

How can Edinburgh City return to winning ways?

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Edinburgh City must beat Albion tomorrow if they are serious about the title (Photo credit: Ross Cowper-Fraser)

Two draws, two losses and one win isn’t exactly catastrophic form, but for a team that was winning week-in week-out just a couple of months ago, it comes as a bit of a surprise.

However that’s the situation that Ladbrokes Scottish League Two leaders Edinburgh City currently find themselves in. From the jubilation of breaking a club winning streak in November to staring down an ultra-tight run-in with league rivals Peterhead and perhaps Clyde.

But manager James McDonaugh anticipated this.

Speaking ahead of their match against Annan on Saturday 19th January, McDonaugh told EN4 News: “Everybody has played us at least twice now so they maybe have a better idea that we’re not that easy to play against.

“I think teams are going to approach the games differently now against us. I’m not saying teams will just sit in but they’re not going to come out and be as expansive to try and beat us, so wins are going to be harder to pick up. We need to sometimes find a different way of playing.”

Edinburgh lost their match at home to Annan Athletic 2-1 before drawing at Elgin City in a 3-3 thriller the following week. The Citizens host bottom of the league Albion Rovers tomorrow in what is an absolute must-win game, with their main title challengers Peterhead up next on 9th February.

Picking out specifically where City can improve is hard. As McDonaugh pointed out, it’s harder for his to team to play their expansive, attacking football when their rivals are now more aware of their threats.

It therefore becomes an attractive proposition for opposing rivals to sit back and play to the counter-attack, hoping to capitalise and nick one or all three points.

The key going forward is not to get stuck in a rut. James McDonaugh is a very experienced manager and the transformation in Edinburgh City from a survival team to league challengers is remarkable.

He knows better than anyone how to get the most out of his players. But the trouble is, he doesn’t have enough players.

Conrad Balatoni (5)Goal 61 Mins

Edinburgh must remember how to win games (Photo credit: Ross Cowper-Fraser)

“We don’t have the players to rotate so we just basically have whatever’s available. There’s been very few times where I’ve been able to rest someone or take someone out the team,” McDonaugh revealed to EN4 News.

It’s common knowledge within football that the winter period takes its tole on any squad, and it certainly appears that Edinburgh City are in this phase right now.

However, their starting XI has proven on numerous occasions that it’s a match for anyone, so ensuring everyone stays match-fit is a major priority.

The other is getting the better of their closest opposition. On the face of it, Peterhead seem the largest threat given they are just one point Edinburgh with a game-in-hand, but their form isn’t dramatically better.

From their last five matches Peterhead have amassed nine points compared with Edinburgh’s five.

Clyde meanwhile are the dark-horses. Lying three points back with a game-in-hand, they’re the league’s form team with five wins from their last five helping them close into the top two.

They’ve also been a tougher nut to crack for McDonaugh’s men. In their previous two matches both sides have taken a win, while Peterhead are yet to beat the Citizens despite a 1-1 draw in December.

Scottish League Two Win Percentage

Peterhead have won 71% of their matches so far, compared to Edinburgh (68%) and Clyde (66%)

 

Such comparisons are rather academic in football however, as it all comes down to the performances on the day. And in Edinburgh’s case, it’s the performances against the lower half of the table that are the cause for most concern.

Edinburgh needn’t worry either. They’ve proven they are good enough for sides like Inverness CT this season so are capable of beating anyone they face. Conrad Balatoni and Andrew Black in particular have drawn praise from their manager, and are both vital ingredients to a potential title win.

They must lead from the front and along with McDonaugh, galvonise the team into believing they can do it. Only they can alter their own destiny.

The ultimate aim now has to be trying to make sure the team returns to its habit of winning, and not substituting it for losing. And that starts no sooner than against Albion Rovers.

Edinburgh City boss admits injury scare ahead of cup replay

John Menzies credit to Ross

James McDonaugh looks ahead to tonight’s cup replay. Photo by Ross Cowper-Fraser

Edinburgh City manager, James McDonaugh admitted that his side could do without tonight’s Scottish Cup replay as they fear potential injuries.

City travel to the Highlands to play Inverness Caledonian Thistle and while a cup run is of importance, their focus will also be on retaining their two point lead in League Two.

McDonaugh spoke ahead of tonight’s third round replay.

He said: “Because we are struggling with injuries, tonight’s match is one that we could do without. I guess so far it’s okay because we keep winning, but at some point we’re going to be really struggling if we get a couple more injuries or any suspensions.

“We haven’t been able to give any of our first team players a rest over the past six weeks, so we’ve had to stick with the same core of players for our last few games. Of course the team keep winning games but we could easily lose a player or two to suspension, and then we’d really be in trouble.”

City drew the first meeting 1-1 at Ainslie Park against John Robertson’s side and hope they can do it again as they travel to Tulloch Caledonian Stadium for the 19:45 kick off.

They’re coming off the back of Saturday’s 2-0 win against Queen’s Park. A performance that certainly pleased McDonaugh going into tonight’s game.

He added: “I thought we were very good in the first half, playing on the front foot and at a good tempo. We always looked like a threat going forward.

“In the second half, the game turned very scrappy and we didn’t play as well but to be fair, we were 2-0 up because of a lot of hard work in the first half.”

“Overall, the players deserve a lot of credit for securing another three points.”

Inverness CT come into tonight on the back of only their third defeat of the season, and their first in the league. They lost to 3-2 to McDonaugh’s former club, Falkirk over the weekend.

But despite that setback, the Highland side will be fancying their chances to progress at home to lower league opposition.

And McDonaugh expects it to be a very tough task against their Championship opponents.

“For us to have a chance against Inverness, every player for us must perform at their best, and we need them to have an off day, and a bit of luck as well. We would need all three to go our way. Of course we can win, but the chances of it happening are very minimal.”

Should Edinburgh City come through tonight’s match, they will be rewarded with a home tie against Lowland League side East Kilbride in the fourth round.

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