Shire will host Gala Fairydean Rovers at Ochilview on Saturday in the first meeting of the teams since the 10-1 away win at Netherdale in December – and Shire coach John Sludden expect the memory of that encounter will be the main motivation for the visitors rather than his own team.
He expects Steven Noble’s team will be hungry to prove a point this week after suffering their biggest defeat of the season at Shire’s hands three weeks before Christmas.
The result was the first time Shire had scored ten or more goals in a match since 1950 and was the biggest-ever away win in the short history of the Lowland League.
And John fully expects Rovers to be fired up by the memory of it as they aim to set the record straight.
“They’ll be hurting from the last game and they will want to do a lot better this time round,” said the Shire coach. “But we know we will just have to apply ourselves the way we did down there.
“We are at home and we will try to take the game to them and get ourselves another three points.”
John certainly won’t allow anyone to believe that just because Shire won the last encounter so convincingly they can take Rovers lightly. They have been in good form of late and it took an injury-time goal for Stirling University to beat them at the Falkirk Stadium last weekend.
The fact that they ran Shelly Kerr’s team, who had lost just one of nine going into the clash, so close proves the point that Gala will be better this time round. And he will leave the players in no doubt that a combination of recent good results and performances, and an element of revenge, means it will be a really tough encounter.
“The players will understand that,” he said. “They will know how Gala must be feeling. Gala may also change their system from the way they played down there so in the early part of the game we may need to adapt to that.
“But we are at home and it would be great if we could get off to a good early start. It will be a difficult game and it doesn’t matter who you play against you must have the same mindset for every single game. There’s no way we will take any team lightly.”
And although John expects Gala to use the memory of the defeat to motivate themselves for Saturday’s encounter, he says the reverse should be true for his team. He says it would be wrong to draw any conclusions of how this weekend’s match turns out based on the last time the teams met.
“That game is gone now,” he said. “It was a great day and a great journey back up the road but it’s gone and we need to apply ourselves to get another three points.”
The coach will be able to welcome back Connor Greene and Andy Rodgers to his squad. Both players missed last Saturday’s 3-0 home victory over Whitehill Welfare due to suspension, but both one game bans are now over and both will be considered for the Gala visit.
However, Paul Sludden will still be absent as he serves the final match of a three game suspension following his recent red card in the game against Spartans.
John and the players would love to see as many fans as possible at Saturday’s Ochilview encounter. The support this season has made a real difference to the players so, if you can, then please make an effort to come along and get behind the team.