Shire will travel to Preston Athletic on Saturday for the team’s penultimate away game in this season’s Lowland League looking for another victory but with a warning from coach John Sludden not to simply expect to win.
This week’s opponents have gone nine league matches without a victory and defeat in last weekend’s home encounter against Cumbernauld Colts ensured that Preston Athletic will get this season’s wooden spoon.
The coach will be able to welcome back Drew Ramsay, who missed the 4-2 win at Hawick Royal Albert in the club’s last outing through suspension, and he may have a full squad to choose from for the first time in a while.
This game should have gone ahead at Pennypit Park on Saturday 4th February but was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. It will be the first meeting of the teams in Prestonpans and follows the reverse fixture at Ochilview in November which ended in a 6-2 Shire victory.
The Shire coach remembers that outing as being a more difficult affair than the final scoreline suggests and he has made plain that he will not entertain any complacency from anyone in the run up to the game.
“It will be a tough game,” said John. “Maybe there will be some people who just think we can go there and put three or four past them but we can’t take that attitude. We have to get the mindset right because they will treat it like a cup final.”
John will leave it late before deciding on a starting eleven for the game and says the underfoot conditions will be a factor in his thinking when it comes to picking his team.
“We expect the pitch will be heavy and that will be a consideration in team selection,” he said. “We are a team that likes to play passes but there is a time and a place for that.
“Last week at Hawick the pitch was soft and we decided to play it up to the strikers early and feed off them but it took us time to get used to it and, to be fair, Hawick adapted to the conditionms better in the first half hour.”
Shire eventually won 4-2 but left it late to claim the points at Albert Park.
The one thing John is keen to avoid at Prestonpans is a similarly slow start. In fact, the team has conceded the opening goal in each of its last three matches, and although they have emerged unbeaten the coach says the players can make life easier for themselves if they can get in front early.
“That’s our aim every week,” he said. “But sometimes circumstances mean you don’t always get what you want and, fair play to our opponents who have done their best to stop us.
“The good thing is that when we go one or two behind we have the quality to turn things around. But we would much rather get ahead early in games and stay ahead and that’s what we will look to do on Saturday.”
The coach and the players would appreciate as big a turnout from the Shire supporters as possible. Admission to the game is £5.00 adults and £3.00 concessions. Shire will wear the usual black and white hoops. Kick-off is 3:00pm.