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"We were always going to be in a fight for survival" - Elgin City manager Allan Hale turns focus to massive Borough Briggs clash with Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic

By Craig Christie

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Clyde's resurgent form and win over Elgin City on Saturday means the Black and Whites will have to fight for survival right to the end of the season.

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

So says City manager Allan Hale, with his team back in second-bottom spot just five points above last weekend's conquerors Clyde.

Elgin could have been destined for fifth place in the division had they held on to their half time lead over the bottom side at Hamilton. Instead, they conceded twice after the break to bring about a defeat which took them down to ninth, after Stranraer's victory over Dumbarton in midweek.

cinch League 2 table
cinch League 2 table

This weekend, Hale's men play host to a Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic side sitting just a point above them in seventh place, and the importance of the match is not lost on the Elgin manager.

"In League 2 football, those can ultimately be the fine margins that determine whether you get zero, one or three points," he said. "Unfortunately we were on the wrong end of those fine margins on Saturday and came away with nothing.

"It is cut throat, but the players deserve credit. When we came in there was an eight-point gap to the nearest team above us so the fact that we are in that mix and having conversations where a couple of wins can propel you up the way, it shows that the players have done well.

"It also highlights the competitive nature of League 2 and the fact that when you pick up a couple of points in a three-game spell like we have, you’re back in the same position as we were when we took over.

"I’ve always said all along that we are going to be in a fight until the end of the season. I have always maintained that.

"The stance hasn’t changed, even when we were picking up results, in a ten-team league that’s the nature of what happens.

"Saturday's game is a really big game and one that’s important that we play well in."

Injury and suspension could also come in to play with Elgin weighing up the possibility of missing some key players.

Centre back Jake Dolzanski was sent off at Clyde, and his automatic ban also taking up disciplinary points gained by 12 yellow cards this term, Hale feared the stopper could receive a three-match suspension.

Rory MacEwan looks set to miss the rest of the campaign through injury while an ankle ligament tear will keep winger Mitch Taylor out for much of this month.

Full back Lyall Booth picked up a knee injury on Saturday and couldn't train on Tuesday, while striker Dajon Golding is nursing a hamstring pull.

Lyall Booth could be an injury doubt for Saturday. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Lyall Booth could be an injury doubt for Saturday. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

One positive on the injury front is the return of captain Matthew Cooper from a knee strain - he should be fit to feature on Saturday.

Matthew Cooper (right) is set for an Elgin City return but striker Dajon Golding (left) is carrying an injury. Picture: Daniel Forsyth
Matthew Cooper (right) is set for an Elgin City return but striker Dajon Golding (left) is carrying an injury. Picture: Daniel Forsyth

Hale assessed his team's defeat against Clyde and the two draws against top two Stenhousemuir and Peterhead over the previous two weekends.

"Saturday was a sore one, there’s no getting away from that. We didn’t start particularly well and Clyde had a lot of possession but they never really threatened our goal.

"We kept them in front of us, and we then got a goal from a set piece and looked really comfortable heading into half time.

"We started the second half really well and had two good chances to go 2-0 up, then we had two lapses in concentration defensively.

"We responded well again and had numerous opportunities to get ourselves back in the game but never managed to do it. I thought our performance merited at least a point.

"If I have any criticism of the last three performances, we’ve not taken our chances against Stenny, and it was the same in the second half against Peterhead and on Saturday.

"We just have to focus on ourselves and not the rest of the results or the league table, we literally have to focus week-to-week and prepare them well in training through the week.

"If we take care of ourselves then we will be OK and that’s where our focus needs to be, not all the permutations that come on a weekly basis with the league table fluctuating the way it is."

Hale is wary that his team performed poorly in a recent 2-0 defeat at Saturday's opponents Bonnyrigg.

He is calling on the Elgin fans to help their team continue their good home form of late.

"I don't think we’ve put in a worse performance in our tenure so far," he said.

"Bonnyrigg played well on the night and stifled all of our threats and we couldn’t get a foothold in the game. We need to make sure we put in a far better performance.

"Bonnyrigg’s a really good team, they are physical and aggressive with their work and make it difficult for you to get into any sort of rhythm.

"So we need to stand up to that but we also need to play our own game and make sure we stamp our authority on the game and get the home support to have something to get behind.

"They’ve got their part to play as well in terms of getting behind the team and making sure there’s a good atmosphere for the players to go and respond to. They have given us great backing so far and I'm sure they will do the same on Saturday.

"Our home form has been consistent and we have started to translate that into our away games. Spartans, Peterhead and Clyde represented three good performances and that gives us encouragement for a really tough run-in.

"The aim is to accumulate as many points as we can to maintain our safety in the league."

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