Shanks' Say

Last updated : 18 August 2004 By Ross Shanks
Who would have expected such a good start to the season? After two disastrous seasons just encountered at Borough Briggs, seeing the club struggling at the bottom of the Scottish Third Division, are we finally starting to see improvement that could help the club turn the corner?

Desperate to quickly improve on last years lowly position of ninth, “Robbo” wasn’t slow in bringing in players, having veteran Andy Roddie signed from Peterhead before the season even ended. Many players followed over the summer, Martin Harty (Stenhousemuir) Paul Kaczan (Partick Thistle) and perhaps most impressively Kieron Renton, Stuart Cumming and Adam Nelson, all from Blackburn Rovers. Throughout pre-season it was obvious to all that Elgin were looking miles ahead of the team we saw last season. When the competitive games started, it was obvious that the signings brought in were good additions to the squad. Roddie adding a threat down the left, with good pace and excellent distribution with crosses. Kaczan forming a very solid partnership at the heart of City’s defence with Hugh Dickson. Nelson proving a very talented midfielder, eager to pass the ball about and has an eye for goal. Adam has only been signed till January and I have a feeling he may end up somewhere else rather than signing on. He is a good player and it's evident he likes a passing game, but this is a division where in many games, the midfield are missed out as long balls are the usual tactic.

A win on opening day at Stenny, followed by a win at home to Queen's Park see Elgin currently occupy third spot in the league. To be there come May is perhaps a target a bit out of reach, but we should be aiming for a mid table finish, a target that is much more achievable. The Queen's game wasn’t the most convincing of performances but another clean sheet and three points are signs that there may be good things to come this season. The game was some-what over shadowed by incidents involving Queen's Park manager Kenny Brannigan, scenes that shocked all witnesses. Nevertheless, Andy Roddie's first goal for the club after half an hour was enough to give Elgin the win.

This weekend will be a massive test for the club, as we are away to promotion spot favourites, Peterhead. Since entry into the SFL, Elgin have never recorded a win at Balmoor and with summer signings such as Scott Michie, Kris Brash, David Hagen as well as Craig Campbell and Craig Tully, formerly of Elgin, they are not going to be easy to beat. After four seasons of almost being promoted, the new manager Ian Stewart is hungry for success. A lot of people will be expecting Peterhead to win clearly by 3 or 4 goals, even a few Elgin fans may be forgiven for such predictions. Even with the odds stacked against us, Elgin have shocked Peterhead in the past and perhaps there might be another one on the cards this Saturday.

Peterhead haven't had the most impressive of starts this season. In cup games they beat second division opponents Arbroath 4-2 and East Stirling 3-2. The result against Arbroath may look impressive on paper, but truth is there is not much between the two divisions and recent results would suggest Arbroath would be a mid table team at best in the third division. The result against East Stirling isn’t the most convincing either. What has been called a “dodgy penalty” settled things for Peterhead on a night where East Stirling would not give up. Last week's meeting with Montrose is another sign of optimism, Peterhead struggling to win by one goal. Recent games show that Peterhead may not be the most solid of teams at the back and Boney and Reid could fully exploit that on Saturday. Defensively, we have looked quite solid in recent games (apart from a blip against Berwick) and if we can keep the likes of Bavidge, Hagen and Michie quiet, there’s no reason we can't win this. The right service from Nelson, Roddie or Martin and we could see the partnership of Bone and Reid do some damage. There will be a lot of key battles on Saturday, the most intresting of all perhaps will be former Blue Toon favourite Andy Roddie up against former Elgin City player of the year Criag Tully. Last season Tully did not impress and often looked slow and clumsy. Now he's playing as right back, if Roddie gets the ball, he may be able to get a lot of joy on the left. On the flip side of that, Stuart Cumming is going to have a huge job on his hands dealing with David Hagen. I know I'm being rather optimistic but if we can keep them quiet, defend sensibly, cut out the mistakes and get the right distribution to the strikers, we may just cause an upset. Well, here's hoping!