Shire extended their unbeaten Lowland League run to five games with a comfortable 2-0 victory away at Vale of Leithen on Saturday.
Despite dominating possession it took Shire until the 63rd minute to break the deadlock when Paul Sludden stroked the ball into the net from inside the penalty area.
John Sludden’s team had dominated the game in terms of possession and scoring chances but some resolute defending from the home team had them struggling until that point.
Vale’s keeper, former Shire man Ross Gilpin, had a great game against his former club and it looked as though Sludden’s strike would be the only time he would be beaten but there was nothing Gilpin could do to prevent Kevin Kelbie scoring a second in the final minute, despite his best efforts.
The victory moves Shire on to nine points after six matches and extends the unbeaten run in the league to five game, although it also ends a frustrating sequence of three successive draws.
Shire will now have a lengthy wait for the next match – the team will not now be back in action until Friday 8th September when they take on Stirling University at Falkirk Stadium. The scheduled match against Spartans at Ochilview, due to be played on Saturday 2nd September, has been postponed.
Shire will be able to welcome back striker Kevin Kelbie to the squad when the team travels to take on Vale of Leithen in its latest Lowland League clash this weekend.
The front man was forced to sit out the 2-2 draw against Civil Service Strollers after his red card in the club’s previous league match against Gala Fairydean Rovers but will be added to John Sludden’s squad for the trip to Innerleithen.
After three successive league draws the match is taking on considerable importance for Shire who are keen to avoid slipping any further behind the league leaders after just five games of the new season.
This week club captain Derek Ure underlined the importance of the game by describing it as a “cup final” for the visitors.
“Games like this are going to determine our season right now,” he said. “If we don’t start picking up points now we will be fighting a losing battle to get points to take us back up the league table.”
On Sunday Shire twice threw away an advantage against Strollers, having to settle for a draw after conceding a goal with just five minutes left to go. Two weeks earlier they needed an injury-time strike to get a point at Dalbeattie Star after John Sludden’s men had surrendered a 2-1 advantage to end up 3-2 behind.
“We are not defending well as a unit,” said Ure. “We are losing sloppy goals and, apart from Ayr United, no-one is scoring world class goals against us. It has been individual errors from us and we must start cutting them out if we are to stop throwing away points.”
Saturday’s opponents occupy their own place in Shire history as our first-ever Lowland League opponents. The opening day fixture last season ended in a 2-2 draw with Vale no doubt feeling they should have claimed all three points.
The return match at Victoria Park on the Saturday before Christmas was another touch encounter for Shire but one which the team emerged from with a 4-2 victory.
By that stage of the season’s Vale’s early season promise had waned and they ended the campaign 13th out of the 16 teams.
This term they have lost old hands like Kevin Motion and Keith McLeod while the player who gave Shire most bother last season, Blair Atkinson, has moved elsewhere too.
But they have gained former Shire goalie Ross Gilpin and still have a fair bit of experience elsewhere in the side, although results have not been as hoped so far.
In midweek they lost 3-0 away at Gretna 2008 which was Vale’s fourth straight defeat after an encouraging 1-0 victory over Edinburgh University. Those three points are the only ones they have gained since the start of the season.
But the Shire skipper is taking nothing for granted and says if the team is to bring the three points home they will have to work hard to do so.
“The standard has improved this season,” said Ure of the league as a whole. “We will have to match their effort. At any level of football you have to match the effort of the opposition before you earn the right to play.
“We have to win our battles first before we go on to play.”
You can listen to Derek’s pre-game interview by clicking on the link below.
The team would appreciate as big a travelling support as possible. If you would like to travel to support Shire at Vale of Leithen then contact Sandy Nimmo on 07803 708119 to find out about fan transport arrangements.
Shire will wear their usual black and white strips for a game which has a 3:00pm kick-off.
Shire 100 Club member Jaqueline Greenaway is £150.00 better off after the latest monthly cash prize draw.
Jaqueline’s lucky ball was drawn out of the magic bag by well-known Shire supporter and club sponsor, Jock Meikle, during the half-time interval at Sunday’s Lowland League match against Civil Service Strollers at Ochilview.
The Shire 100 Club is a great way for everyone, near and far, to help support the club reach its goals both on and off the pitch. For a minimum investment of £5.00 per month you will get the chance of winning the monthly £150.00 cash prize draw and other Shire goodies as well.
We are always looking for new members – joining the Shire 100 Club is a great way to show you care and also helps bring much-needed revenue to us.
If you are able to help, and your support by joining the Shire 100 Club would be really appreciated, you can get all the details and an application form on the website here .
The club is hosting a special fundraising music night in Behind The Wall in Falkirk on Saturday 28th October.
Shirefest will bring together live sets from two band, Soundcradle and The Patryns, both of whom have Shire connections – Soundcradle lead singer Stuart Blackwood is our stadium announcer and Jamie Greenaway from The Patryns is also a regular at games.
Tickets for the event will be on sale soon and doors will open at 8:00pm. Details of how to get tickets will be announced in due course.
If you can’t make it to the gig but would still like to donate to club funds this would be very much appreciated.
The Shirefest music night is the product of a recently-formed fundraising committee and other initiatives have already been launched on the back of this and more will be announced in the future.
The club would like to thank Brian Flynn at Behind The Wall and both bands for making the Shirefest event possible. It promises to be a great night so, if you’re a Shire fan, or if you’re not, please come along and see two great band and help the club at the same time.
It looks as though our Lowland League clash with Spartans, scheduled for Ochilview on Saturday 2nd September, will have a new date.
The fixture will have to be re-scheduled after the Edinburgh side was re-instated into the IRN-BRU Cup by the SPFL. Spartans had lost their first round match at Albion Rovers but that result was expunged from the records after the Coatbridge club admitted fielding an ineligible player in the tie, which Rovers won on penalties after a 0-0 draw.
The SPFL’s ruling instead awarded Spartans a 3-0 win.
It means Spartans will now play Irish League side Linfield at Ainslie Park in round two, with the match set to go ahead on Saturday 2nd August.
Shire were due to host Spartans in the Lowland League on the same day. The club is still waiting on confirmation on the details and any new date for Spartans’ visit. We will keep you updated when more information becomes available.
This season’s Shire home jerseys carry a small pink heart on the back of the collar.
It’s our way of remembering a brave wee girl, Hollie Taylor. The five year-old died in the summer after suffering from a rare form of cancer but the fund which bears her name, and which seeks to fund research into the form of cancer she suffered from, goes on.
Last year Shire striker Andy Rodgers got involved in the fund-raising efforts and the club donated a substantial sum to the Hollie Taylor Fund as part of our series of Soccer Skills Challenges during games.
Hollie came along herself to a match at Ochilview to collect the cheque.
This year the club decided to honour Hollie by adding a pink heart to our strip. Fans can purchase one of the replica tops with the pink heart for the addition of an extra £15 and all of this money will go to the Hollie Taylor fund.
You can order one of the replica tops on the club webshop or at the mobile club shop at Ochilview at any home game.
And you can find out more about the Hollie Taylor Fund, and make a donation, by going to its website here .
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.”
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.
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.
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 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.
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.