Athletic’s shock to system
Timely jolt: McGovern looking for return to form after Annan loss
Elgin City captain Jon-Paul McGovern believes familiarity is the key to bringing success to Borough Briggs this season.
Jim Weir’s side has recovered from a woeful Betfred Cup campaign, losing all four group games, by making a strong start in League 2 and McGovern says the tough cup results can bring a long-term benefit.
He said: “We had a really hard pre-season due to players getting to know each other, but the manager has found a system which suits the players and that’s been shown in the results we’ve been getting.”
The Black and Whites’ four-game winning streak was brought to an end by a 1-0 home defeat to Annan last week but McGovern insists confidence has not been dented. He said: “The first half last week was as poor as we have played this season, but in the second half we created enough chances to win two games.
“That’s no disrespect to Annan Athletic, it’s a reflection of how well we played in the second half and although the loss brought our run of wins to an end we’re keen to keep the momentum going.”
City travel to Berwick today aiming to get back to winning ways and close the gap on leaders Stirling Albion, who have a one point advantage on Stenhousemuir at the top. Elgin City manager Jim Weir is searching for a winning formula again after his side’s run of victories came to an end last Saturday.
The Black and Whites’ hopes of a fifth win in a row were ended by Annan Athletic at Borough Briggs where the visitors took all
Berwick, now managed by Robbie Horn, are sitting eighth in the table with only six points from their opening five fixtures but McGovern is wary of the Shielfield Park side.
McGovern said: “Berwick will be tough, especially away from home. Results have shown every game is hard in this league and you just need to look at Clyde beating Stirling Albion last Saturday to see how difficult the division is going to be this season.
“They’ll be hoping to get their season going but we want to show the Annan result was a blip by getting all three points.”
The former Celtic and Swindon defender, who joined the club from Clyde in the summer, has settled quickly and hopes he can help City win promotion this term.
The 36-year-old said: “I’m loving it at Elgin. The move here has been everything I hoped it would be and more. I’m hoping my experience is benefiting the team and I’d like to think I’m contributing on the pitch as well.
“I’ve joined a really good group of players and I believe we can challenge this year.” three points courtesy of a 1-0 win.
Weir is frustrated by the loss which is feels was a chance missed by his side and said: “We feel we were unlucky not to take something from the game. We certainly created enough chances in the second half, but just couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net.
“It’s shaping up to be a league where everyone on their day is capable of beating their opponents and finding consistency is going to be key. It’s difficult to put five wins in a row together but last weekend’s result was unexpected for us and we feel as if we let an opportunity to close the gap on the teams above us pass us by.
“We’re all looking for the formula of winning regularly and it’s tough in what is a very competitive league.”
City travel to Berwick Rangers today hoping to get back to winning ways and Weir has warned his players they face a side which will not be lacking in motivation.
He said: “We’ve always found it hard down at Berwick.
“We’ve had good results and some bad ones there in the past and I’m sure they will be looking at the game as a chance to bounce back from their recent poor run.
“They are below us in the league and this is an opportunity for them to move above us and they’ll be focused on trying to do that.
“But I believe it’s about what we do. We know we are capable of winning there and we’ll go there trying to do that.”
Forward Ali Sutherland remains on the sidelines but Weir hopes the former Caley Thistle attacker will return next week. Hibernian defender Liam Fontaine will be out for up to three months after requiring surgery on an ankle problem.
The 31-year-old suffered the injury playing in a recent under-20s game for the Edinburgh club.
To add to the defensive woes for manager Neil Lennon, Fontaine’s fellow centre back Darren McGregor could be out for up to six weeks after an operation on his knee injury.
Ahead of today’s home Premiership game against Motherwell, Lennon said: “It was pretty innocuous in the game, but the scan showed the ligament has come away from the bone so he needs surgery. It is pretty similar to the injury he had last year so he is going to be out for 10 to 12 weeks.
“Darren (McGregor) had his surgery on Monday so he is four to six weeks hopefully.
“So that is a real blow with Liam but the rest of the squad is healthy. We have good depth in the squad and Efe Ambrose and Paul Hanlon were excellent last week so I’m hoping for more of the same.”
Hibs’ last game at home ended in a 3-1 loss to Hamilton, their only defeat of the season so far, but Lennon has been encouraged by subsequent 1-1 draws on the road against Dundee and St Johnstone.
He said: “We have been playing really well. I was delighted with the performances in the last two away games and we were unfortunate not to have won them.
“So if we can replicate that at home we have a very good chance of winning the game.
“However, Motherwell come into the game on the back of three wins which is excellent form.
“They have turned their season around very quickly so the game is a good challenge for us.
“We could and should have more points on the board but it is what it is and if we find the form of the last two games I am pretty sure we will start winning more than losing.”