McGovern hatches his three-point plan as City travel south

Cap­tain be­lieves his side is on par with any team in divi­sion

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen) - - SPORT -

El­gin City cap­tain JonPaul McGovern be­lieves the finest of mar­gins will de­ter­mine the out­come of League 2 this sea­son.

City are look­ing to stay within reach of league lead­ers Stir­ling Al­bion, who are eight points ahead of them, when they travel to Forth­bank to­day.

McGovern, who pre­vi­ously played in the fourth tier with the Bi­nos and Clyde, feels there is lit­tle to sep­a­rate any of the teams and the league plac­ings are likely to be tight come the end of the sea­son.

McGovern said: “We can see from the re­sults this sea­son that any­one can beat any­one. It’s just the way the squads are and fi­nances dic­tate that.

“A lot of teams have got a strong 11, with one or two who can come on and do a job.

“If a team is miss­ing one or two through in­jury or sus­pen­sion it can af­fect form. That’s just the way it is in this league as no team can af­ford to carry a big squad.

“We have some very good play­ers on the bench, who are chomp­ing at the bit to make sure they are in the start­ing line-up.

“The most im­por­tant thing is we are learn­ing as a squad.”

McGovern is well aware of the chal­lenge posed by his for­mer club, where he spent a short spell in 2015, play­ing just four games be­fore mov­ing on to Clyde in Septem­ber that year.

The 36-year-old, for­merly El­gin City man­ager Jim Weir has chal­lenged his Black and Whites to pro­duce an even bet­ter dis­lay than last week­end’s 3-0 win against Mon­trose when they face League 2 lead­ers Stir­ling Al­bion to­day.

City pro­duced the per­fect re­sponse to suc­ces­sive de­feats by An­nan Ath­letic and Ber­wick Rangers when they re­turned to win­ning ways against the Ga- of Sh­effield Wed­nes­day and Swin­don Town, said: “It’s a big game for us, a real test. Stir­ling have had a fan­tas­tic start so far, they have got a good young man­ager and some re­ally good play­ers.

“They have made some good sign­ings and there is an ex­pec­ta­tion from a lot of peo­ple that they will be up there com­pet­ing at the top of the league.”

McGovern is re­fus­ing to treat Dave Mackay’s side any dif­fer­ently de­spite El­gin record­ing an im­pres­sive 3-0 win against Mon­trose last week­end and he added: “We are go­ing into the game full of con­fi­dence af­ter a great re­sult, but it wouldn’t have been any dif­fer­ent had we lost the game.

“We have got to go into every game with con­fi­dence. It’s not ar­ro­gance but we know we’ve got play­ers who, on their day, can beat any­one in this league.

“We just have to put our game­plan into ac­tion and hope­fully get the re­sult.” ble Endies. Mon­trose had been sec­ond in the ta­ble prior to the loss but Stir­ling pose a greater chal­lenge hav­ing stormed to the top of the league with six wins from their open­ing seven games.

Weir feels the Bi­nos will pose an even sterner test at Forth­bank and he said: “We have to up our game from last week be­cause we are play­ing against the league lead­ers, who have al­ready beaten Mon­trose and Peter­head.

“Win­ning breeds con­fi­dence – we know that from the run we went on ear­lier in the sea­son.

“It was un­for­tu­nate to lose the two games back-to-back be­fore that but the good thing is now that is out of our sys­tem.

“I felt the score­line was a bit harsh on Mon­trose, they were par­tic­u­larly strong in the sec­ond half.

“Some­times that hap­pens in foot­ball, though. They are a good side, so I was very happy to get the three points.”

Weir has been im­pressed by Dave Mackay’s side so far, adding: “They have real ex­pe­ri­ence up front but they have been scor­ing goals from all over the park.

“They have found a sys­tem that seems to be work­ing well, with Callum Mor­ri­son and Dar­ren Smith play­ing par­tic­u­larly well in the for­ward ar­eas.”

El­gin have a fully-fit squad with the ex­cep­tion of at­tacker Shane Suther­land, who is con­tin­u­ing his re­cov­ery from a lig­a­ment in­jury. Air­drie have put their for­mer un­der-20s coach, Stephen Findlay, in charge of the first team.

The trou­bled League One club re­vealed Findlay would take the team on match days and work with di­rec­tor of foot­ball Gor­don Dalziel and skip­per Marc Fitzpatrick dur­ing train­ing ses­sions.

Findlay had a suc­cess­ful spell in charge of the club’s un­der-20 side be­fore leav­ing for a role with Queen’s Park in 2015 and later had a brief stint in charge of East of Scot­land Ju­niors side Fauld­house United.

His ap­point­ment pro­vides some sta­bil­ity on the pitch af­ter pre­vi­ous head coach Mark Wil­son left on June 17.

Don­ald Jen­now and then Wil­lie Aitchi­son took up the role on an in­terim ba­sis but both had left by midAu­gust and the in­jured Fitzpatrick has been tak­ing the team in re­cent weeks.

The La­nark­shire club was thrown into fi­nan­cial un­cer­tainty in June when ma­jor­ity share­holder Tom Wother­spoon stepped down as chair­man and Jim Bal­lan­tyne re­turned to the po­si­tion.

In a state­ment, Findlay said: “I am de­lighted to be back at Air­drie and look for­ward to work­ing with ev­ery­one, new faces and old alike.

“It is a slightly dif­fer­ent chal­lenge this time around but I am rel­ish­ing it. The club has a young group of play­ers keen to suc­ceed and we all look for­ward to see­ing their pro­gres­sion.”

Air­drie sit in eighth place in League One and host sec­ond-bot­tom Queen’s Park to­day.

BY ANDY SKINNER

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