New signings on show in season opener

Edinburgh City joint boss Gary Jardine has no doubts that tomorrow's opening Central Taxis Premier Division game against current champions Spartans away from home is the ideal start for his new crop of players.

"We want to enjoy the occasion of playing against what is presently the best team and the benchmark to which all other clubs in our league must aspire to," said Jardine. "We have been looking forward to this game since the fixture list was published and since we signed some new players.

"We finished a disappointing seventh in the Premier Division last season and our report card definitely said 'could do better.' We now have some of our younger players, who have one year's more experience and our new additions are really exciting. Therefore, we are looking to improve this season and a top-five position is certainly the least of our aims."

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Jardine and his co-manager, John Green, have attracted two former Stirling University players to their ranks. Joe Dingwall is a full-back who was with Hibs and Raith Rovers as a youngster while Euan Black is a centre- forward. Kevin Cairnie, a winger with Preston Athletic, has shown up well in pre-season games and defender Ruaraidh Scott, a good talker and motivator, has joined after graduating from Edinburgh University.

"Experience comes in the form of Darren Moonie, who has pre- viously played Junior football with Penicuik Athletic and Tranent," added Jardine. "Goalkeeper Andrew Stobie is on loan from East Fife while striker Ryan Wilson has moved up from our under-19s.

"All of these players bring more quality to Edinburgh City," enthused Jardine. "We have 12 guys in our squad who are aged 22 or under and, although Ruaraidh comes into that category, he is an excellent communicator and leads by example. Darren, at age 29, has experience and a real eye for a goal while Ryan has been with City since he was eight and he could definitely go further in the game. The addition of the new players has also given the current players a massive lift.

"Spartans have obviously improved their squad as well with the signing of Chris Townsley and Jack Beesley. I personally think that Beesley was the best player in the East of Scotland League last season.

"We have had a mixed bag of results in our pre-season games and, ironically, in two of these which we lost - against Lochee United and Livingston - we actually played our best football. Tomorrow, we will be telling our players to enjoy the occasion and that they have an oppor- tunity to take something positive from this opening game."

City will be without Jamie Bain while Kevin Morrison is doubtful with an ankle knock.

Spartans, meanwhile, are leaving no stone unturned in their quest to retain their title and joint-manager Mike Lawson has already been to watch Edinburgh City in action.

"I took in their friendly against Tranent Juniors and I saw six or seven new players although the nucleus of the team was still there," said Lawson.

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"City's younger players will also have benefited from a season in the Premier Division while they have great experience in Ross Macnamara and Dougie Gair so I fully expect City to be a handful this season." Although Spartans have lost the services of Dan Gerrard they have more than compensated with the signing of Townsley from Alloa Athletic and Beesley from Edinburgh University.

"We are probably in a more stable position," added Lawson. "The first game of the season is usually a frenetic affair which can be physical and played at 100 miles per hour.

"I honestly don't know what to expect because we lost our opening league game of last season 3-1 to Whitehill Welfare then went on to win the league by fifteeen points. It's basically down to our players performing to the level that I know they can.

"The biggest problem for Sam Lynch [joint-manager] and me is in our team selection. We played a friendly in midweek against Ormiston and scored seven goals so we are now scratching our heads deciding who to play tomorrow."

Spartans have Kevin Sivewright on the treatment table but otherwise have a full squad available.

The action kicks off at Ainslie Park at 2.30 pm with admission prices adults 4.00 and concessions 2.00.

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