MATCH : Shire’s tenth Lowland League game, completing the first third of the season, will put John Sludden’s team up against Gretna 2008 at Ochilview.
Following the last-gasp defeat at Spartans last weekend there is no doubt that Shire need the points to help close the gap on leaders East Kilbride, who are a daunting eight points clear with a game in hand. Second place Spartans are now four ahead having also played nine games so far.
Last week Shire’s opponents Gretna 2008 enjoyed a memorable Scottish Cup First Round victory away at Highland League Deveronvale, winning 3-0 at Princess Royal Park. That brought to an end a four game losing streak for the Raydale Park club who are managed by former Dumbarton striker, Paddy Flannery.
Shire have not had their problems scoring goals at Ochilview; the last two home matches, against Cumbernauld Colts and Stirling University, have ended in 4-1 wins and the team has won three on the bounce at Ochilview and remains undefeated there in the league this season.
But Saturday’s opponents don’t have any hang-ups about playing on the road; their form away from Raydale Park is far superior to their home form and they have lost just once on their travels all season.
Victory for Shire could potentially see them leap into third place while Gretna 2008 would move back into the top half of the division again were they to keep their good away form going.
Shire will wear their traditional black and white hoops with the visitors wearing their alternative strip as their all-black first choice outfit will be a clash.
Kick-off at Ochilview is 3:00pm. Admission is £8.00 adulds and £4.00 concessions.
TEAMS : Shire have one injury doubt over Jamie Glasgow. He was taken off just 20 minutes into last week’s match against Spartans with a tight hamstring and the winger, who has scored six goals this season, has been receiving treatment in the hope he may be fit for Saturday’s game.
Drew Ramsay, who missed last week’s trip to Spartans, will be back in the squad along with Connor Hogg. There are no suspension concerns and Darren Dolan’s long term shoulder injury means he is the only player inactive this weekend.
Gretna 2008 have made a number of recent additions to their squad, including four young players on loan from Queen of the South. They also have a number of more experienced players who have been at this grade of football for some time.
PAST : This will be the first competitive meeting of the two teams, although Shire did play the previous Gretna FC for three seasons between their election to the SFL in 2002 and their promotion to Division Two in 2005.
These were some of Shire’s lowest years in terms of on-the-field performances and co-incided with the start of Brooks Mileson’s involvement with the Gretna team. In those seasons it was hardly surprising that Shire’s best was a 2-2 draw at Raydale Park in 2002/03.
Shire skipper Derek Ure holds the distinction of having played in eleven of the twelve games that Shire came up against the old Gretna FC and is set to face the new Gretna club this weekend.
VIEWPOINT : Shire coach John Sludden is looking to his team to bounce back from the disappointment of losing to an injury-time penalty against Spartans last weekend.
The coach says his side have responded by winning immediately after their two previous league defeats this season and wants to see the same again from his players when they play Gretna 2008.
“The team spirit is still good,” said John .”We have bounced back before and we can do it again. For all the effort they put into last Saturday’s game it was a sore one for us to take because the team deserved to take at least a point out the game.
“If you look back to the Stirling University game we started that one well and we scored a couple of good goals and we are looking to do that again on Saturday and hopefully we can get another good home result,” said John.
You can listen to John’s pre-match thought’s by clicking on the link below for the whole of his interview.