Category: News

We’ll Press On – Coach

Shire coach John Sludden says he will continue trying to make improvements to the team’s performances after they twice failed to hold on to a lead to draw 2-2 at Ochilview with Civil Service Strollers on Sunday in the club’s latest Lowland League outing.

The coach and players were left frustrated not only by the 85th minute goal which allowed the visitors to leave with a point but also by the refusal of referee Gary Doherty to award a penalty in injury-time after Paul Sludden went down inside the box.

Despite that, the coach was perhaps even more disappointed with the inability to hold on to an advantage – Shire took a ninth minute lead through Andy Rodgers and Paul Sludden gave them a 2-1 advantage just seconds after Strollers scored a 71st minute equaliser.

“Going by the reactions of everyone it’s a penalty kick to us,” he said of the game’s last meangingful moment. “It’s a sore one to take. But at the moment we can’t seem to see out games when we are in the lead.

“We needed to be aggressive on the ball for their two goals and we didn’t do that which is disappointing,” he said.”We spoke about how they were an enthusiastic team and how we would have to match their aggression.

“There was some good link up play and we created some chances but it was just in spells. We need to keep that up for 90 minutes and not just play every now and again and there were tims when we allowed them into the game.”

Shire got off to the best possible start with a goal from Andy Rodgers after just nine minutes. But the team’s failure to build on such a positive opening led to their undoing in the second period.

The visitors came much more into things after the break and created a number of dangerous openings before substitute David Chruchill fired them level.

“We said at half-time that if we keep a clean sheet then we win the game,” said the coach. “You will get games where you create chances and won’t take them. But if you do the other part of the game correctly then you go on and take three points.”

That said, Shire didn’t let the first equaliser set them back. Straight from the re-start Paul Sludden headed them back in front and the coach was hoping that would point the team in the right direction.

“We scored two good goals,” said John. “You can’t really fault the strikers. We will just need to go again on Tuesday and Thursday night because there is no way forward other than through hard work and we will look forward to going again on Saturday.”

Andy Rodgers gave Shire a ninth minute lead against Civil Service Strollers.

Paul Sludden was just as disappointed that his 72nd minute goal which put Shire 2-1 up hadn’t ended up winning them the game. He had hoped the team had done enough but Shire were to find out that wasn’t the case when Andrew Main popped up at the back post to level the scores with five minutes left.

“We see the demand on us to win every game,” said Paul. “Teams aren’t going to lie down so we need to work harder to make sure we put games to bed.

“I’ve played in this league for a few years now and I’ve learned if you give teams something to hang on to they will try their hardest to get back in the game or hold on to a lead. Maybe we need to be more clinical in front of goal that will help us going forward.”

You can listen to coach John Sludden’s post-game thoughts in full by clicking on the link below .

Striker Paul Sludden also spoke at length about Sunday’s draw and some of the wider issues the result has thrown up. You can listen to his comments by clicking on the link below.

Shire are now next back in action this coming Saturday when the team travels south to Innerleithen’s Victoria Park to face Vale of Leithen.

Civil Service Strollers Preview

Striker Kevin Kelbie will be absent from the Shire team that takes on Civil Service Strollers in the team’s latest Ferrari Packaging Lowland League outing on Sunday.

The summer signing from top junior side Linlithgow Rose is serving a one match ban after receiving a straight red card in the 73rd minute of last Saturday’s 0-0 league draw with Gala Fairydean Rovers at Ochilview.

Kelbie’s frustration boiled over after he alleged he had been elbowed in the face and he carried his protests to referee Alastair Grieve too far for the match official’s liking.

Kevin Kelbie was shown a straight red card reducing Shire to ten men after 73 minutes.

The main frustration felt by the coacing staff and the players after last weekend’s goalless draw was all about a failure to get a goal against Gala in the face of an inspired display by the visitors’ keeper.

Lewis Muir thwarted Shire a few times, especially in the second period, the pick of his saves came from a Kelbie header.

The result left Shire without a competitive win at Ochilview so far this season and that did not change on Wednesday evening as SPFL League 1 pacesetters Ayr United recorded a 5-1 IRN-BRU Cup victory.

Shire’s crumb of comfort was Derek Ure’s 43rd minute goal which was the first time the team has scored at Ochilview this season, and there is no doubt they will be seeking to add to that on Sunday as well as record their first home win of the season.

But it won’t be easy for Shire ; Strollers came close to getting a result against Spartans at home recently and were only denied at least a point by a penalty goal for the visitors.

The Christie Gillies Park team had none of the frustration in front of goal that Shire experienced last weekend. While John Sludden’s team couldn’t find a way past Gala Fairydean Rovers, Strollers were hitting five against one of the tightest defences in the league last season, Edinburgh University, in a East Qualifying Cup game.

Strollers will be visiting Ochilview for the first time since December last year. That day they set about looking for some sort of revenge for the 8-3 defeat they had suffered at home against Shire earlier in the season.

It didn’t look like they were going to get it after an Andy Rodgers’ hat-trick had Shire 3-1 ahead at the interval.

But a determined fightback from Strollers after the break saw them level things at 3-3 by full-time in one of the most entertaining encounters seen at Ochilview all season.

While Shire will be hoping for three points on Sunday, a similarly exciting kind of game would be welcome and the club is hoping the switch to the Sabbath might encourage a larger-than-usual crowd of fans seeking some entertaining football.

Shire will be in their traditional black and white hoops with Strollers donning their normal all red strip. The match referee is Gary Doherty and the game will have a 3:00pm kick-off. Admission is £8.00 for adults and £4.00 concessions and match programmes, £2.00 each, will be on sale.

Shire Exit IRN-BRU Cup

Shire went out of the IRN-BRU Cup at the first round stage despite a brave performance, losing 5-1 at Ochilview against SPFL League 1 pacesetters Ayr United.

The team put up a creditable display in the opening quester of the game against a side who had carried all before them in the early part of the season, and who had won six of their seven competitive fixtures so far.

But they fell behind after 26 minutes when Leon Murphy broke the deadlock for the visitors and when Brian Gilmour made it 2-0 seven minutes from the break Shire’s chances in the tie looked like they were slipping away.

However, skipper Derek Ure struck a minute before the interval to give Shire’s hard work some reward and, at the break and 2-1, behind there was cause for some optimism.

That, though, turned out to be short-lived as Ayr United took control of the game in the opening 15 minutes of the second half. Any thoughts of a Shire comeback were dealt a blow when Craig Moore put Ayr United 3-1 up after 55 minutes.

The visitors then took the wind further from Shire’s sails with another goal just three minutes later from Alan Forrest to make the score 4-1.

John Sludden’s team never gave up the fight and managed to stem the flow until the 88th minute when Luke McCowan completed the scoring.

Ayr United Preview

Shire will welcome SPFL League 1 leaders Ayr United to Ochilview on Wednesday for a first round IRN-BRU Cup match which coach John Sludden says will be an important test of the abilities of his players.

While Shire have yet to fire on all cylinders in the Lowland League, their visitors have started the season at full pace, winning their four Betfred Cup group games, including one against local rivals from the Premiership, Kilmarnock, and claiming maximum points from their first two League 1 matches.

The coach, a former Ayr United player who won the old SFL Division Two with the Somerset Park club in 1987/88, is clearly looking forward to the game against his old team and says the players should be up for the cup as well.

“It will be a real test for us,” said John. “We often are going into our league games as favourites so this will be a different challenge for us and we will look forward to it.

“We want to go and show we are a good team with good individual players and we want to look to get a result,” he said.

The coach is aware that the challenge of facing Ayr United will be of a different order to that of most matches in the Lowland League but says they shouldn’t need to raise their game for the big occasion.

“We want to play at our best every week no matter who you are playing against,” he said. “Every game you play you want to play to your max, it doesn’t matter who your opponents are.”

The game will be the fourth meeting of the teams in this competition, which began life as the Centenary Cup in 1990.

In the previous three games Shire have yet to lose in 90 minutes to The Honest Men – the only one of those three clashes where Shire did not progress to the next round was at Firs Park in the 1994/95 season when Ayr United won on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

That was the last time the teams met until the first game of the 2008/09 season, Shire’s first competitive fixture since moving to Ochilview from Firs Park that summer.

It was played in sweltering heat and Ayr United looked as though they would progress leading 1-0 with four minutes to go.

Then Dean Richardson levelled things with a wonder strike before Andy Rodgers scored a last-minute winner for Jim McInally’s team.

Andy later joined Ayr United for a season but this week he will be one of two men in the line-up, the other is Shire skipper Derek Ure, who played for the club that day back in 2008.

“If the weather’s like it was that day I’ll take the number 12 shirt on Wednesday,” he joked when recalling that last-gasp Shire win. “Hopefully I’ll be able to breathe this time.

“That was another day where no-one gave us a chance and, in fairness, they probably played us off the park for 89 minutes but we dug in and that’s what we will need to do on Wednesday night, just work hard and try to stay in the game.”

“We’ve got absolutely nothing to lose,” said Andy. “Ayr have started the season really well but we can go out with no expectation on us and hopefully put them under a bit of pressure.”

Much the same was true the last time the two teams met in this competition back in 2012 when John Coughlin’s side, playing its first game of a new season, was not expected to trouble Ayr United.

But two first half Michael Herd goals gave Shire a platform which allowed them to withstand an Ayr United comeback and seal a 3-1 win with a great Scott Maxwell strike.

Andy Rodgers remains hopeful. “We have got quality players and we just need to create chances and hopefully someone can take them,” he said.

Shire will be in their usual black and white with visitors Ayr United in a change all-yellow strip. Kick-off on Wednesday evening is 7:45pm and both extra-time and penalties will be used if required. Admission is £10.00 for adults and £5.00 concessions and programmes, price £2.00, will be on sale.

Home fans are reminded season tickets are not valid for this game.

Keeper Iain Re-Joins Shire

Goalkeeper Iain Ure has re-joined Shire for a second spell at the club until the January transfer window.

The former Camelon Juniors stopper is, of course, the brother of Shire club captain Derek Ure, and he was previously with the Shire during Jim McInally’s spell at the club.

Although Iain was a regular in the club’s reserve league team at the time he did not make a league or cup appearance for the first team, although he did have the distinction of keeping goal during his bother’s testimonial game against Falkirk at Westfield in 2011.

Iain has been the unnamed trialist keeper in the team’s Lowland League matches this season. He will be included as a signed player for the first time in the midweek IRN-BRU Cup match against Ayr United at Ochilview.

We would like to give Iain a very warm welcome back to the Shire.

Shire 100 Club Draw

The latest Shire 100 Club draw was made at the game against Gala Fairydean Rovers at the weekend.

Club chairman Alan Archibald was helped by Nick Seivewright to draw the number of one lucky 100 Club member who receives two boardroom tickets for a future Shire game at Ochilview.

The winner was Alan Parkin, so it’s congratulations to him.

The Shire 100 Club is always on the lookout for new members. For a monthly investment of as little as £5.00 per month you could be assisting the club realise its goals both on and off the pitch and win prizes as well.

It’s not just boardroom tickets – the main 100 Club draw takes place each month and offers a cash prize of £150.00.

If you want more information or an application form then click here .

A Frustrating Afternoon – Coach

Both Shire coach and players admitted the weekend 0-0 home Lowland League draw against Gala Fairydean Rovers was a frustrating affair but they claim it illustrates how the league is getting better and how much harder it will be to mount a  challenge.

Coach John Sludden praised his players ,”application and effort” on a day when they were thwarted by a fantastic display by visiting keeper Lewis Muir. The Gala Fairydean Rovers youngster, who is on loan from Rangers, excelled himself with a brilliant stop to deny Kevin Kelbie, then prevented Andy Rodgers grabbing all three points with another great save deep into stoppage time.

Paul Sludden hit the crossbar with a great effort and the home team had other chances but could not take them and the blank scoreline left Shire still looking for their first home league win of the season.

“I think you have to give him credit,” said the Shire coach. “He had three or four saves and the one from Kevin was top drawer. But the good thing is we created [chances]. Paul’s one came off the bar and Andy hit the target and the keeper had another great save.

“On another day we might have had two or three [goals] but for the saves he made.”

If that aspect was both frustrating and disappointing then the coach was able to point to a day when his back line stopped the opposition from getting one on target. He identified Gala striker Stuart Noble as a pre-game threat and was glad the defence gave the visiting target man a quiet afternoon.

“When you are having one of those days when nothing is going for you in front of goal then you make sure you don’t give anything away,” said John. “We did that. We concentrated some of our effort on getting a clean sheet and we got it. You are not going to score every week so it’s important we shut up shop in our own half.”

The sending-off of Kevin Kelbie with 17 minutes left was a blow to Shire at a time when the striker might have been just what Shire needed to get the vital breakthrough.

Kevin Kelbie was shown a straight red card reducing Shire to ten men after 73 minutes.

“It certainly didn’t help us,” said the coach. “At that point we were looking to change things but the sending-off meant we couldn’t do that. We just had to stay compact and retain our shape and even after going down to ten men we still created chances.”

The coach understands supporters will look at the league table and worry that Shire aren’t among the pacesetters but he says this is a different kind of league to the one Shire took by storm last year.

“This is the way it’s going to be all season,” said John. “You also have to give other teams credit. Maybe they’ve look at how we played last season and have taken note of that and they are certainly well-organised now.”

It was a point emphasised by Shire striker Andy Rodgers, who helped himself to more than 30 goals last term but is finding it harder this time round, again not for the want of trying.

Andy says the league as a whole is getting better and that means fewer one-sided games like Shire’s 10-1 victory over the same opponents last season.

“It’s going to be more difficult,” said Andy. “The teams we were brushing aside last season have maybe had a year or two to get themselves in too. They are all improving although our aim is still the same as last season and we just need to work hard and see where we go.”

The Shire striker thought he had won the game late on with a great shot but he was denied by another fine stop by the Gala keeper, who again gained top marks from a player who has certainly found his way to goal over the course of his career.

“Their keeper made some great saves,” said Andy. “But we have to look on the positives and I would much rather have this home performance than our last one,” he said of the opening day 3-0 defeat at the hands of BSC Glasgow.

“It’s not the end of the world,” said the Shire striker. “We are getting there although it’s taking time. We just need to pick ourselves up to go again.”

You can listen to coach John Sludden’s post-game comments by clicking on the link below .

Shire striker Andy Rodgers also spoke at length about the Gala draw and the challenges Shire face in mounting another attempt at winning the Lowland League title. You can listen by clicking on the link below.

Full highlights of the game can be found on our Youtube Highlights Channel.

Gala Fairydean Rovers Preview

Forget 10-1, that’s history.

That’s the view of Shire coach John Sludden ahead of this weekend’s Ferrari Packaging Lowland League game against Gala Fairydean Rovers at Ochilview.

Saturday’s opponents were famously beaten 10-1 at Netherdale in the league last season but the coach isn’t giving that game much thought. Instead, he is trying to find a solution to his team’s fitful start to the league campaign which has brought Shire four points from a maximum nine.

The coach admitted this week that the points tally might not have even reached four had it not been for an injury-time Connor Greene goal in Shire’s last outing, a 3-3 draw away at Dalbeattie Star last Saturday.

“We look at it as two points dropped,” he said of the Dalbeattie match. “But when you are a goal down with five minutes to go you would take a draw. In the circumstances we should have seen the game out when we were 2-1 ahead. That was the real disappointment.”

The coach was hoping Shire would have picked up at Dalbeattie from where they left off just a few days before when Shire had won well at Rosewell, beating Whitehill Welfare 4-0 in an evening match in which they were unlucky not to score more.

“We had played well at Whitehill and we just wanted them to continue on from that,” he said of his pre-match hopes for Dalbeattie. “And I thought we did that. Paul Sludden had a chance in the first minute and we had other chances in the first 20 minutes, which I thought we had the better of.

“But we let Dalbeattie into the game and we struggled a bit after they went 1-0 up. But having worked hard to get ourselves 2-1 ahead we should have seen things out.”

At least the second and third games of the league season yielded more points than the opener – a 3-0 home defeat at the hands of BSC Glasgow.

Skipper Derek Ure in action against BSC Glasgow at Ochilview on the season’s opening day.

“What disappointed me most about that game was the way we started,” said John. “We looked slow and really nervous and that was a worry for me.”

So, all things considered, the coach knows that after three games there is still plenty to put right and he hopes they can start that process against the visitors from Galashiels this weekend.

“There’s plenty to iron out,” he said. “We talked about it after the Dalbeattie game. It’s the basics we need to sort out – we need to do the simple things better and more quickly.

“We need to concentrate especially when we have the ball. Sometimes we have let ourselves down by not doing that and it is something we will be working on.”

Certainly the Shire coach knows that Gala Fairydean Rovers will be a side capable of causing more trouble for his team if they are allowed to.

The Netherdale club has strengthened in the summer and the young players brought in on loan from Hibernian have been winning a lot of plaudits.

They started their season with an exciting 4-4 away draw at league new boys Edusport Academy and followed that with a thumping 5-2 home win against Gretna 2008.

Last Saturday they considered themselves unfortunate to lose 1-0 at home to Spartans.

While the Shire coach understands Gala Fairydean Rovers will be a real threat he is putting his confidence in his players to get it right.

“I think we have enough in the dressing room,” he said. “But we need to make sure we are firing on all cylinders. We have two or three still to come up to the mark but hopefully that will happen on Saturday.

“We have looked at them,” said the Shire coach of this weekend’s opponents. “They have a good, experienced team and they are well-organised and they have a focal point up front. We will certainly give them every respect.”

You can listen to the full pre-game thoughts of the Shire coach by clicking on the link below.

Fans coming to this weekend’s game should note that Gladstone Road will be open again, if only to pedestrians and not to vehicles. It means everyone coming to watch should enter the stadium as normal through the main turnstiles at the top of the stand.

Neutral spectators, and home and away fans too, should note that both teams will be in their away strips, with Shire wearing the new red change kit for the first time while Gala Fairydean Rovers will be in all black.

The match referee is Alastair Grieve and admission is £8.00 for adults and £4.00 concessions. Programmes, which cost £2.00 each, will also be on sale.

 

 

31 Days In July

The club would like to thank the many fans who took part in the, ’31 Days In July’ sponsorship initiative last month.

It gave every Shire fan the chance to become a genuine kit sponsor without having to shell out a fortune to get their name on the jerseys.

Each day during the month of July the club offered up a small, but still vital, piece of kit for sponsorship at a price that was still within the range of a supporter, raging from a tenner to £350.00.

We had a good response to this campaign and are now tidying up some of the items which have still to be matched up to a specific sponsor. Again, each of the remaining items won’t burst the bank to allow you to become a sponsor of a piece of the kit.

Anyone who still wants to take part in 31 Days In July, even though it’s now August, can do so by e-mailing us esfccommercial@gmail.com.

Draw A Disappointment Says Coach

Shire’s weekend 3-3 draw at Dalbeattie Star was described as “a disappointment” by coach John Sludden who picked out his team’s “poor game management” as the main reason behind their failure to pick up all three Lowland League points at Islecroft Stadium on Saturday.

In a topsy-turvey encounter, which swung one way then the other, it took a diving header from Connor Greene in the third minute of injury-time to secure a point for Shire after they had surrendered a 2-1 lead midway through the second half.

Greene scored an injury-time winner in the Ochilview encounter between the teams last season but the Shire coach says his second last-gasp intervention against Star in successive seasons should not really have been necessary.

“We got ourselves on top at 2-1 and we should have been able to close out the game from there,” he said. “But it was bad game management on our part. Instead of keeping it tight and shutting them down we went after a third goal when it wasn’t really necessary.

“We got sloppy and we didn’t stop the crosses coming in and after that you are asking the players to be aggressive in the box but we didn’t do that. From our perspective the goals we lost were soft.”

Having gone in 1-0 down at the interval Shire made a much brighter start to the second half and just nine minutes in some good link up play allowed Jamie McCormack to fire Shire level.

The new boy’s first goal for the club seemed to set Shire on their way and the expectation levels from the travelling support were only added to two minutes later when another summer signing, Kevin Kelbie, got his first goal for Shire to give them team a 2-1 advantage.

But Dalbeattie Star were not out of things and the home team levelled the scores after 63 minutes and, with 12 minutes to go, they took the lead through a Tommy Muir shot from inside the penalty box.

Shire’s late goal spared the team a second defeat in three matches so far this season but the coach made plain he was looking for better.

“I had hoped we would pick up from where we left off against Whitehill Welfare in midweek,” he said. “And for the first 20 minutes or so I thought we did that and we started brightly and cam e close a few times.

“But then we got sloppy and they scored and that gave them some confidence. Once we got to 2-1, though, we should have been able to see it home but we failed to do that.

“There are plenty of lessons to be learned,” said John. “And if we have to use the training sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays to do that then we will.”