He welcomed the plaudits his players received after their 0-0 William Hill Scottish Cup draw against Annan Athletic at Galabank last Saturday, but coach John Sludden says that will mean little if they come up short in this weekend’s second round replay against the League 2 club at Ochilview.
And he’s sending out a cautionary note to those who think the job will get easier now the team have negotiated a tough away trip and brought the tie back home, where Shire are unbeaten in their last six games.
“We came out with a lot of praise on Saturday but now we need to go that little bit extra if we want to get to the next round,” said John. “There might be a mindset (that says) because we got a draw and a replay the job’s done. Well the job isn’t done. It’ll be even harder on Saturday. They’ll come and they’ll be hurting because they were disappointed in their own performance.
“So we will be trying to make sure everyone is focused on the job. Not for one minute do we think that’s us into the next round of the cup. We’ve got another hard, really important game (against Annan) to come.”
However, the coach also wants to instill in his players a belief that they can go out and win and get through to the next round. John witnessed plenty of encouraging signs in last week’s goalless encounter.
A strong opening period saw Shire create some great chances which they were unlucky not to see converted into goals.
“We asked the the question, ‘Can you play against players at the higher level ?’ and they proved that (they could) for spells in the game on Saturday, so we have to take great confidence out of that.
“They are looking for a bit of improvement . We have looked at it and spoken about it as a group and we feel if we can get that improvement then it could take us through to the next round of the cup.
“They will still come as favourites,” said the Shire coach. “They play in a higher league than us and they have beaten us already at Ochilview this season but we have to take confidence from the way we played in long spells on Saturday.”
The visitors may well still be favourites to go through but Shire have won their last five matches at Ochilview and have now not conceded a goal in four consecutive outings. Playing at Ochilview will, says the coach, hopefully count for something.
We have been starting games well at home,” he said. “Hopefully that is something we can continue to do on Saturday. We will give them the respect they deserve but we will certainly look to take the game to them.”
The coach and players would really appreciate your support at this important Scottish Cup-tie. Let’s get as many Shire supporters along to the game as we possibly can. Admission is £10 adults/£5 concessions.