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Elgin City see points tally treble under Allan Hale’s management and Black and Whites aim to confirm League 2 safety on Saturday when Peterhead visit Borough Briggs

By Craig Christie

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Elgin City had just 12 points on the board and were in serious relegation trouble when they appointed Allan Hale as their fourth manager of 2023 last December.

Elgin City manager Allan Hale. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.
Elgin City manager Allan Hale. Picture: Daniel Forsyth.

Four months on they have trebled their League 2 points tally and could clinch SPFL safety this weekend - even if they lose.

Hale endured three defeats by a collective 10-0 margin in his first three games at the City helm. That prompted a raid in the January transfer market, triggering a vast improvement in results.

Seven wins and five draws in their last 17 games represents good form, with the Black and Whites holding champions Stenhousemuir to a 1-1 draw on their own patch last weekend.

Current League 2 table.
Current League 2 table.

It would take a remarkable turn of events to dump City back into the bottom position they occupied in November, and Hale is eager to confirm safety quickly and start building towards the next campaign.

“We have been happy. The form has been really good and we have accumulated 26 points since we came in,” he said.

“We are sitting in the top four for form over that period, which suggests that the players have been excellent since Christmas, and that is what we have needed.

“There was a big gap when we came in and we have managed to drag teams into it and got ourselves in a position where we are almost secure of our place in the league next year.”

Victory over Peterhead on Saturday would seal Elgin’s place in league 2 next term. A draw would very likely be enough and even a defeat could clinch safety if current basement boys Clyde lose.

“Obviously you don’t want to rely on other results,” hale added. “Hopefully the players continue to show the fight and the spirit that we’ve had in the last few weeks and we can get that point or three that we need to confirm our safety.

“Then we can put the focus on next season and what we need to do with that.

“It would be nice to put it to bed as quickly as possible and not have to go through the last three games worrying from week to week if we are safe or not. I think the players have done enough to put themselves in a strong position and for us now we are in sixth place and it’s about trying to consolidate that, which would be a pretty significant achievement from where we were when we took the team over.

“It would take the pressure off, though there wouldn’t be any relaxation if we did confirm our safety.

“We are professionals and we play to win every week and that is certainly the mindset that we are trying to get the players to be focused on every week. But being assured and having that pressure taken off would certainly help, and allow us to try one or two things in terms of personnel or shape over the last couple of games to allow us to see what the players are capable of when being asked to do something a little bit different from what we have coached them to do.

“We have a tough run-in. Peterhead, Dumbarton and Clyde all have stuff to play for. Peterhead and Dumbarton are preparing for the play-offs so they will want to have positive momentum behind them, so it would be good to have it wrapped up this weekend.

A City team already missing several regulars formed a guard of honour to welcome the Warriors on to their Ochilview home pitch then proceeded to spoil the party with a late Robert Jones equaliser in a 1-1 draw.

On the downside for the Black and Whites, full back Owen Cairns’ late red card for two bookings sees him banned for the Peterhead clash, while centre half Jake Dolzanski’s 12th yellow card of the campaign, in addition to one red, rules him out of the next two fixtures.

“It’s been a tough period. We have been absolutely decimated with injuries and there’s numerous players playing with injuries just to help the team get through it,” said Hale.

“That has been challenging because we are not blessed with a massive squad. Numbers are quite tight and based on the recruitment we have carried out, we inherited a squad that didn’t have much depth in many areas and we had to address that but we could only do so much in January.

“The top end of the pitch, the striker position we have still struggled with depth there and we have felt the effects of that in the past month.”

Matthew Cooper and Rory MacEwan won’t play again this season while Bradford City teenager Freddy Jeffreys looked promising in his first three starts before a hamstring tear ruled him out of any further action.

On-loan Cove Rangers attacker Dajon Golding managed a brief sub’s appearance at Stenny despite nursing a hamstring strain while Ross Draper, Lyall Booth and Mitch Taylor have all been playing through the pain barrier.

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