Price: City team playing for their futures now
THE sad demise of Elgin City's promotion challenge has ignited manager Gavin Price's mission to strengthen his squad for next season.
Four consecutive league defeats mean the Black and Whites' campaign has fizzled out to a disappointing conclusion and they have nothing to play for in their five remaining matches.
Price will use these fixtures to weigh up which players are worth a new contract offer to add to the eight signed players he already has on board for next term.
The Borough Briggs boss couldn't hide his dismay at how his team's form deserted them at a crucial stage of the term.
Buoyant after three straight wins in February and plotting a course to race ahead of Annan Athletic into the promotion places, Elgin have picked up just four points from their last seven games.
"Players have to play well in these remaining games to make sure they are going to get offered a new contract," he said.
"Losing four games in a row, that tells me do we need to bring other people into the club.
"A few weeks ago I would have been saying differently. I thought that we weren’t far away with the squad and I still think that, but I realise we need to add another few."
First to depart City this week was attacker Kerr Hay, who has parted company with the club after failing to win a regular place in the team.
The 23-year-old started just nine games since joining Elgin last summer, making 19 sub appearances and scoring three goals.
He netted City's winner at home to this weekend's opponents Stirling Albion in February but since then has come on from the bench for brief cameos in three of the Moray club's last eight outings.
Club captain Jon-Paul McGovern will retire at the end of the campaign while loan quartet Kyle Gourlay (Dundee), Greg Morrison, Ross macIver (both Ross County) and Callum Wilson (Partick Thistle) return to their parent clubs.
Darryl McHardy, Brian Cameron, Rabin Omar, Matthew Cooper, David Wilson, Kane Hester, James McGowan and keeper Tom McHale are all under contract with Elgin for next term.
Manager Price will make decisions on the likes of Jordan Lowdon, Stephen Bronsky, Scott Roberts, Chris McLeish and Ali Sutherland over the coming weeks.
He signed RAF serviceman Kyle Willis on amateur forms as cover until the end of this season, with the midfielder coming on as a late substitute in Saturday's 1-0 home loss to Annan.
City couldn't score for the third game running despite spells of pressure against the team who beat them to the play-offs.
Aiden Smith's 16th minute goal won the day for the visitors, who also forced three fine saves out of City keeper Gourlay in the second half, despite the home team having wind advantage.
"We did get a reaction from last week (2-0 loss to Albion Rovers) and played a lot better but it’s not getting us points. It’s four defeats in a row and that’s not good enough.
"Annan managed the game better than us and were a bit more streetwise than us, and defended better than us.
"We’ve got to finish as high up that league table with as many points as we can."
Elgin squandered a 2-0 lead on their last visit to Stirling, eventually losing 5-2. They did however beat the Forthbank outfit in the clubs' last meeting at Borough Briggs in February.
"Jordan Lowdon got sent off in that game and that skewed it all a bit. We actually played OK up until then.
"We don’t go there with any great fear in terms of us getting a result and we beat them here recently. We know it’s going to be a tough game again."