Pitch Will Play It’s Part -Coach

Coach John Sludden says the pitch at Preston Athletic’s Pennypit Park will have an important say in how Shire approach this weekend’s Lowland League trip to Prestonpans.

With rain forecast for much of the rest of the week the head coach will wait and see what effect that has on the playing surface before naming his team.

Drew Ramsay is due to return after a one game ban but team selection may be influenced by the playing surface. Soft underfoot conditions at Hawick last weekend not only affected who played but tactics too and John says that’s likely to be on his mind for Shire’s next game as well.

Photo : Alan Murray, Falkirk Herald
Photo : Alan Murray, Falkirk Herald

“On Saturday [at Hawick] the big issue was the park,” he said. “That swayed it for us in terms of team selection and it will be exactly the same this Saturday.

“We have a rough idea of how we want to play but that will depend of the weather as well before we decide who’s going to play on Saturday.”

He will certainly be hoping that whoever takes to the field at Pennypit Park will be able to better cope with the conditions than was the case in the Borders. By his own admission, the Shire coach says his team never really got going until half and hour into the game.

John says part of that was down to the underfoot conditions.

“We normally like to play passes but we told them before the game that we wanted to get the ball up early to the strikers because of the pitch,” he said. “But we didn’t do that and, to be fair to Hawick, they adjusted to the conditions better than we did in the first half hour.”

Photo : Alan, Murray, Falkirk Herald.
Photo : Alan, Murray, Falkirk Herald.

Whatever the weather has in store, John admits Shire must start games better than has been the case in the last couple of outings. Against Hawick, and in the previous game against Tynecastle in the SFA South Region Challenge Cup, Shire have been forced to come from a losing position late in the game to win.

He says it’s much preferable to get on the front foot early and will be driving home that message in training this week.

“In the last couple of games we have made a slower start than we have been used to,” said the head coach. “Although you have to give credit too to the teams we have been playing who have made it very difficult for us.

“But ideally, on Saturday, we want to start the game better and get a better tempo to our play. But sometimes things don’t go for you and the good thing is that when they have gone one or two down there’s enough ability to get us back in the game.

“However, we would much rather be on the front foot and take the lead rather than come from behind.”

The coach is hoping to see as many Shire fans as possible at Saturday’s game to support the team. The Supporters Club will run a bus to the game and if you want to book your seat then contact Sandy Nimmo on 07803 708119. Preston Athletic have set admission prices at £5.00 for adults and £3.00 concessions, so, if you can, please come along and help the team.