Shire will aim to make up for midweek disappointment when the team travels to Broadwood to face Cumbernauld Colts in the latest round of Lowland League fixtures on Saturday.
The team had hoped they could capitalise on a feelgood factor generated by a 5-0 victory over East Kilbride when they faced Edinburgh University at Ochilview on Tuesday evening but those hopes were dashed by an injury-time goal that gave the students a 1-0 victory.
They now aim to get over that by recording a victory over Colts – something Shire could not do in the final two of three meetings between the teams last term. Shire’s last visit to Broadwood was a topsy-turvy affair in which the team trailed 2-0 only to assume a 3-2 lead before the home side hit a very late equaliser to share the points in a 3-3 draw.
Weeks later the sides met at the Falkirk Stadium in the semi-final of the SFA South Region Challenge Cup but, on that occasion, Colts emerged as deserved winners with a 3-2 victory.
Colts made the headlines for the wrong reasons when they were on the end of a shock Scottish Cup defeat at the hands Amateur Cup holders Colville Park in the first round.
But otherwise their recent form has been good and they go into Saturday’s game unbeaten in their last four Lowland League outings, the latest being a 2-1 home victory over Whitehill Welfare on Wednesday evening.
Shire will wear their change red and black kit and the game will kick-off at 3:00pm. Admission is £6.00 for adults and £3.00 concessions and everyone at the club would be delighted to see as many Shire supporters as possible at the game to cheer on the team.
The planned trip to Hawick Royal Albert has been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
Heavy overnight rain in the borders has left much of the surface area under water, a situation which is often not helped by the ground being right next to a river.
A new date for the game will be issued by the Lowland League in due course. In the meantime, Shire will now next be in action on Tuesday evening when the team hosts Edinburgh University at Ochilview, kick-off 7:45pm.
Shire move from playing the reigning Lowland League champions to a game, seven days later, against a Hawick Royal Albert side currently sitting bottom of the league table having lost each of their first nine matches of the season.
And while Shire will travel to Albert Park in confident mood after the 5-0 win over East Kilbride last Saturday there is no sign at all of anyone getting ahead of themselves.
Coach John Sludden has reminded his squad they will have to play “every bit as well” at Hawick as they did at K Park to stand a chance of claiming another three points, while striker Andy Rodgers is telling his team mates they have “no divine right” to beat the team currently in the wooden spoon position.
The coach will be able to add Jordan Tapping to the squad for the trip south – the central defender missed the East Kilbride victory due to suspension but he has now served his one game ban.
John praised the team’s display at East Kilbride as “the most complete performance” since he took over as head coach. Now he is asking the players to match it against a side now managed by the man he replaced in the Shire hot seat, Craig Tully.
The Shire coach was delighted with the East Kilbride display but knows what follows must be of a consistent standard.
“Saturday was great,” said John. “But it’s done and dusted now and we need to stay focused on going down to Hawick and trying to get the right result. The most important thing is going there and getting the right result but we have got to take great confidence from the performance on Saturday.”
The coach and players know that results, and sometimes performances, this season have not been as good as everyone anticipated and that means forgetting the plaudits given out after last week and getting back to the hard graft.
And there is no doubt it will be hard. Everyone at the club knows Craig Tully as a determined man and a hard worker and he will be doing everything in his power to make Hawick Royal Albert a better team.
They ran Cumbernauld Colts close in their last league game, losing only 1-0, and Albert’s new head coach has already begun wholesale personnel changes to improve their fortunes. Last week they travelled to Highland League Deveronvale and played well before going down to a 3-1 Scottish Cup first round defeat.
“They have been changing their team from week-to-week to try and get more players in and changing their shape and system,” said John. “It doesn’t matter what position they are in the league we know it will be a difficult game and we will have to get to the standards we reached last Saturday to get the three points.”
Shire need the points if the team is to make up for a slow start. Three disappointing draws have hindered the team’s ambition to get to the top of the tree and a 3-1 defeat at Stirling University recently indicated how far standards had improve across the Lowland League and how much better Shire needed to be.
“The league has improved this year,” said Shire striker Andy Rodgers. “But we need to get on that run of wins. This week is a different kind of pressure but we showed [against East Kilbride] that we can handle pressure because that was a massive game.
“But we know that if we don’t perform as we did last Saturday then we have no divine right to win.”
Listen to coach John Sludden’s pre-game interview by clicking on the link below.
Shire striker Andy Rodgers spoke in some depth this week about the great 5-0 win over East Kilbride and how it could help the team in the weeks ahead. You can listen to what he had to say by clicking on the link below.
The trip to Albert Park will be Shire’s first since the 4-2 win in last season’s Lowland League back in March. A win that was tough until a late surge of goals brought the team a welcome three points.
The coach and players appreciated the great support they received at East Kilbride last Saturday and would love to see, and hear, a healthy travelling support at this weekend’s game. If you want to add your support then contact Sandy Nimmo on 07803 708119 for details of the supporters bus.
You still have the chance to take part in our very successful player sponsorship scheme.
The club is seeking sponsors for Adam Murray, Chis McLaughlin, Aidan McKeown and Iain Ure for the 2017/18 season. The cost for the package is £120.00(inc. VAT) and is a great way to show your support for the club and an individual player.
In return you will receive a replica jersey signed by the player you sponsor. Your name will also appear in the player’s profile page on the club website as his sponsor and there will be a mention in each home match programme as well.
The player sponsor scheme has had a high uptake level again this season and the club, not to mention the players awaiting sponsorship, would be delighted if you wanted to take part.
If you are the sponsor for any of the four players mentioned then get in touch by sending us an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last year the club arranged a special event where sponsors received their signed in person from their own player.
Coach John Sludden had added two more players to his 2017/18 Lowland League squad, although one of the new arrivals is already a well-known face at the club.
Defender Adam Murray penned a new deal this week which will keep him at Shire until the end of the current season. It’s Adam’s third season with Shire and his late arrival is down to the fact that he has spent the last few months living and working in the United States.
He only arrived home at the start of September but quickly tied up the formalities which has meant a return to training to get back to match fitness. We should see Adam back in action before long.
The coach’s other capture this week is teenage goalkeeper Robbie Taylor. The 17 year-old has been training with the club since last season and recently did well in practice sessions which prompted the coach to invite him to experience a Saturday match day with the first team squad.
Coach Sludden has high hopes for Robbie who will be nurtured carefully by the club. The initial intention is to get him out on loan to give Robbie the opportunity to play football at an adult level every weekend while closely monitoring his development.
We would like to welcome Robbie to The Shire and we hope he enjoys his time with the club.
Moira Mitchell is the latest monthly cash prize winning Shire 100 Club member.
Her lucky number was drawn from the bag of balls by Martin Greene, who was assisted by club chairman Alan Archibald, at our last home game against Nithsdale Wanderers.
Moira collects £150.00 thanks to her continued membership of the Shire 100 Club.
If you’re not already a member then please consider giving it a go. You could end up £150.00 better off like Moira thanks to our monthly cash prize draws which take place throughout the year, even in the summer close season.
There are other non-cash draws which also take place once a month where prizes like a match day in the Shire boardroom are on offer.
The Shire 100 Club is a great way of trying to win a bit of cash while at the same time helping the football club reach its goals both on and off the field of play.
For a minimum investment of just £5.00 a month you could be making a positive contribution to the well-being of The Shire and helping your own bank balance as well. You can pay £10.00 and £20.00 a month and that will guarantee you more balls in the bag and extra chances to win.
Want to join the Shire 100 Club ? Just click on the link here for full details and a downloadable application form.
The recently-organised Last Man Standing competition was won by Sophie Duncan.
She collected £155 in winnings but kindly donated £50 of that back to the Shirefest music night fund.
Sophie collected her winnings from fundraising committee chairman, Gary English.
The Last Man Standing and Shirefest are the first two events to be realised by the new committee which will be looking at fresh ways to generate cash to help the club move forward.
The committee would like to thank everyone who took part in the competition.
The next event is the Shirefest music night which goes ahead in Behind The Wall in Falkirk on Saturday 28th October. Tickets, priced £5.00, are still available for the gig which will feature music from Soundcradle and The Patryns.
It promises to be a great night if you like live music and is designed to appeal to both Shire supporters and people who might like live bands but are not necessarily football fans.
The fundraising committee is determined to make this a big success and is appealing to Shire supporters who can’t make it to the event to buy a ticket anyway as a donation.
Shire coach John Sludden described Saturday’s 5-0 away league victory at champions East Kilbride as “the most complete” performance by the team since the start of his tenure.
It wasn’t simply the margin of victory, or the number of chances created, that impressed the coach so much as the contribution from each player involved, as a collective unit. The result has breathed new life back into the season which, until Saturday at K Park, had had its share of disappointments, and everyone involved is committed to using the morale-boosting three point haul to kick-start the league campaign.
“That was the first thing we spoke about in the changing room after the final whistle,” said John. “We don’t want this to be a one-off great day but instead we need to use it as a starting point to get a run of wins going and then to climb the league table.”
The final outcome would have been hard for any neutral to have predicted prior to kick-off. East Kilbride, although five points behind league leaders BSC Glasgow in second place, had not lost a league game this season.
Shire, another fancied challenger for the league, looked in danger of being left behind by the front runners after just one league victory in their last five outings. But after Liam Allison’s header gave Shire a sixth minute lead there was no looking back – a Paul Sludden double had the visitors 3-0 up before the hour mark and, in the closing 30 minutes, strikes from Derek Ure and Kevin Kelbie rounded off a day to remember.
It was East Kilbride’s biggest-ever Lowland League defeat.
“I think it was our most complete performance as a team since I came to the club along with the rest of the coaching staff,” said John. “It wasn’t just about scoring goals it was about everyone doing the job we asked them to do.
“Each of them played their part whether that was tackling hard, blocking shots or stopping crosses coming in from wide areas. They had plenty of possession and are a good team but I don’t think Jamie [Barclay] had a shot to save, and that says a lot about how hard everyone in front of him was working.”
Of course, the coach was also pleased with Shire’s attacking play which brought five goals and, with some good fortune, might have seen Shire score more. “Some of our play was a delight,” said the coach. “I don’t think I would want to pick out individual performances because no-one contributed more than anyone else.
“Even the supporters who travelled were fantastic and I would like to thank every one of them who came for their efforts,” he said.
But now the hard work starts. The Shire league season so far, even after Saturday’s win, has far to go yet to realise the objectives that were set before the competitive action got under way. The coach wants this victory to mean more than three points.
“I would like to think that it sets down a marker,” he said. “We now need to go on a run and try to get back up the league table. There can be no time for back-slapping, we need to move on quickly and concentrate on the next game, which will be like a cup final for us.
“We have a lot of experience in the dressing room and we now have a real sense of belief that, if we work hard, we can start picking up points and begin climbing the league table.”
Liam Allison may be fit enough to be added to the Shire squad this weekend as the team resumes its Lowland League season with a trip to face current champions East Kilbride at K Park.
If he does make a recovery from injury the utility man will not be the only player who will come back into contention for a starting place, despite Shire recording a 7-0 win in the team’s last outing.
Strikers Kevin Kelbie and Andy Rodgers, who did not feature at all in last week’s victory against Nithsdale Wanderers in the SFA South Region Challenge Cup, are in line to resume up front while other players who were rested for the cup-tie will hope to reclaim their places are Andy Grant, Connor Greene, and Graeme MacGregor.
One man who did start the Nithsdale Wanderers game, Jordan Tapping, won’t, however, be in the squad for the East Kilbride game because he’s suspended.
After a disappointing 3-1 away defeat at Stirling University in Shire’s last league outing, they have chosen a tough venue, and an even tougher set of opponents, to try to get the show up and running again.
East Kilbride had a free week last week due to the cup fixtures and a bye into the second round but they will be hoping to pick up from where they left off – a 4-1 away win at Gretna 2008 a fortnight ago.
The champions go into the Shire fixture in second place, five points behind current leaders BSC Glasgow but they know victory will reduce that gap to just two with BSC occupied by Scottish Cup business on Saturday.
The last time, and only previous occasion, Shire visited K Park, in September 2016, an early goal was enough to give the hosts a 1-0 victory in a very tight game.
“Fantastic for the players and fantastic for the club”, was coach John Sludden’s assessment of the debut performances of Shire teenagers Aidan McKeown and Chris McLaughlin in Saturday’s 7-0 win over Nithsdale Wanderers in the first round of the SFA South Region Challenge Cup.
While Chris’s 86th minute goal was the icing on the cake as far as his senior debut went, the contribution of Aidan at right-back was not overlooked either in the post-game analysis from the coach, who only brought both players in a few weeks ago.
It was certainly a step up for Chris who was playing under-17 football with Milton Amateurs last term and it represented a comeback for Aidan who had stopped playing football after a spell as part of the youth set-up at Hibernian.
“The two kids were great and it was finished off by Chris’s goal,” said the Shire coach. “They have been training with us for a few months and we have been keeping an eye on their progress,
“They have both done well and we thought this [game] was a good opportunity for them to make their debuts in the first team and I think they can be really proud of their performances.”
There was little doubt that both players got plenty out of the experience. For both playing in the adult seniors was a clear step up and they liked it so much they want another go as quickly as possible.
“It did come as a surprise,” said Chris of his inclusion in Saturday’s starting line-up. “But at the same time I had been working hard at training and hoping that I would get a chance. It was a great feeling and the next step now is to progress and get more experience in the team.”
Overall, the wide man had plenty to be pleased about. Before finishing off Simon White’s pass for the seventh goal he had played Paul Sludden through for Shire’s fourth goal. “It was good to get a goal and an assist,” he said. “I thought I came more into the game in the second half – we increased the tempo in the second half and we went out and did what we had to do to win the game.”
Chris says he hadn’t have any time to think about the build-up to his goal but he was determined not to miss out on a scoring opportunity. “I just saw the ball come through to me and when it got to my feet I knew I was through on the keeper one-on-one and I knew I just had to take my chance.
“Making my debut was an experience in itself but to grab a goal and an assist makes it ten times better.”
While Chris got the goal, Aidan had plenty to be pleased about as well. The young defender has participated in a number of closed-door games over the past few weeks and those who have watched the games have come away impressed enough to tell others to “keep an eye out” for the teenager.
His performance in the Nithsdale Wanderers encounter lived up to that early praise but it might never have happened if he had not reversed an earlier decision to simply stop playing the game.
“I started out with Milton and then went to Hibernian but I fell away from football for a while but I’m back enjoying it again,” said Aidan, who, after a spell neither playing or being involved in football, slowly started to find out that he was missing it.
“When you get up on a Saturday and there’s nothing to do you start to miss it,” he said. “I’ve got the bug back and back into it and you now don’t want it to stop again. I played for about six months last season then fell away.
“I lost all my fitness and that was hard to get back but I have worked hard and the rewards are in days like today.”
Both players are well aware that opportunities to break into the side on a regular basis will be down to more hard work and application. But neither look shy of a bit of hard work and Chris and Aidan certainly can’t wait to get another shot at it.