Category: News

Mission Accomplished – Coach

It was a case of “mission accomplished” for Shire head coach John Sludden as he reflected on the weekend 7-0 win over South of Scotland League Nithsdale Wanderers in the first round of the SFA South Region Challenge Cup at Ochilview.

The coach watched on from the sidelines as all of his major pre-game objectives were met by the team, who, despite taking 43 minutes to find a way past a determined set of opponents, took the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half, scoring six more goals including an eight minute hat-trick by Paul Sludden.

The most important thing was making it through to the next round of the cup. But other plus points for the coach were seven goals scored while keeping a clean sheet at the other end, and the performance of a much-changed team.

Teenagers Aidan McKeown and Chris McLaughlin came in for their competitive debuts and both made an impression, with Chris putting his mark on the day by scoring the team’s final goal.

“It was fantastic for the two young boys and fantastic for the club to have them come in and do so well, rounding off with Chris’s goal, which was a great finish,” said the coach. “They have been involved with the club for a few months and we have been keeping an eye on their progress.

“They have done really well and we thought this would be a great opportunity for them to make their debuts in the first team and I think they can be proud of their performances.”

Aidan McKeown
Chris McLaughlin

The coach made a number of changes to his team. Andy Rodgers was forced to miss the game through suspension but regulars Kevin Kelbie, Connor Greene, Andy Grant and Graeme MacGregor were all rested. Nevertheless, the coach was happy with the display of the team which was selected.

“We scored seven goals, we kept a clean sheet and we gave some players 90 minutes under their belt,” he said. “So you have to feel it was a good exercise for us.

“We spoke about how we wanted to play everything at a high tempo and we did that for the first fifteen [minutes] but we should have been more clinical and we could have been three or four up in that period,” said the coach.

However, after that the coach felt the game went through a “lull” in which the Shire team failed to capitalise on the early initiative and that gave a willing Nithsdale Wanderers team the chance to grow in confidence.

“We let them dictate the pace of the game and we were disappointed that we did not have the urgency and we huffed and puffed a bit.” he said. “It was fortunate we got in at half-time 1-0 ahead. It was a good delivery and a good header from Jamie [McCormack],” he said of the 43rd minute goal which finally broke the deadlock.

The coach admitted there was plenty of discussion in the changing room at half-time about how to put things right. It worked as Shire sprinted into a 3-0 advantage on the hour mark. The coach says, with the game won at that point, the team could relax a bit and simply concentrate on playing football.

“Everything needed to be done sharper,” said John of the main message from the half-time team talk. “We did that and we got our reward and then we went on and we could enjoy the last 30 minutes of the game and you saw that in their play.”

A penalty after Steven Brisbane was fouled inside the box gave Paul Sludden the chance to make it 2-0 after 57 minutes and by the time the 65 minute mark was reached the striker had a hat-trick and the team were 4-0 in front with two more strikes.

McCormack made it 5-0, Sludden got the sixth with his second penalty of the day eleven minutes from the end and McLaughlin capped a great debut on the left wing with he seventh goal after 86 minutes.

“There were some good goals scored and we created lots of chances,” said the coach.

 

Paul Sludden scored twice from the penalty spot.

After a season so far which has seen Shire fail to pick up as many league points as everyone would have liked, the coach is hoping Saturday’s victory might give the club the boost it needs ahead of the resumption of Lowland League action away at East Kilbride this coming weekend.

“Hopefully they will come back in good spirits [to training] on Tuesday and it sets us up for next Saturday’s game,” he said.

Nithsdale Wanderers Preview

Shire take a break from Lowland League action this weekend when South of Scotland League Nithsdale Wanderers are the visitors to Ochilview in the first round of the SFA South of Scotland Challenge Cup.

The team reached the semi-final of last season’s competition where Shire exited after a disappointing 3-2 defeat against Cumbernauld Colts at The Falkirk Stadium. One consequence of that defeat will impact on this weekend’s encounter – Andy Rodgers’ booking in the Colts game was his second of last season’s tournament leaving him to serve a one game ban against Saturday’s visitors from Sanquhar.

Other than Andy, coach John Sludden should have a full squad to choose from but will name his starting eleven late.

He will be hoping more than anything else to get a positive reaction from the Shire players after defeat in the team’s previous competitive outing at the hands of Stirling University last Friday.

Shire enjoyed their debut in the South Region Cup last season. The team got a bye at this stage twelve months ago before making their first entry with an away match against Mid Annandale at Lockerbie.

That 3-0 victory landed Shire a third round home match with Newton Stewart and the game itself had Shire fans reaching for the record book as the team won 9-0 with Rodgers contributing five of the goals himself.

The quarter-final paired Shire with East of Scotland League Tynecastle FC and it proved a tight affair with a late Paul Sludden goal taking the team though to the last four match up with Cumbernauld Colts.

Shire’s chances were hindered by conceding a first minute goal and, in the end, Colts were deserved winners but the run had brought some great memories along the way.

This season’s draw has brought Shire together with Nithsdale Wanderers from the South of Scotland League.

The Sanquhar-based team is maybe not one we are familiar with but the clubs did meet while both were members of the Scottish Football League in the mid-1920s with the last of these games in 1927.

Since they dropped out of the SFL in the 1920s Wanderers played in local competitions but disappeared completely in the 1960s before being revived in 2001 and have played in the South of Scotland League continuously since then.

They have not enjoyed the best of starts to their current campaign but there is no doubt they will be very much looking forward to the game and they will be determined opponents keen to cause a cup upset.

Saturday’s game at Ochilview will have a 3:00pm start with admission set at £8.00 for adults and £4.00 for concessions. Season ticket holders are reminded these are NOT valid for this game.

 

David Grant Leaves Shire

David Grant, one of the stars of Shire’s first-ever Lowland League season, has left the club this week to pursue a new life in Canada.

Our top league goalscorer in 2016/17 has been given a fantastic opportunity by his employer to establish a franchise on the other side of the Atlantic and he is headed across to Canada to start his new life in the next few days.

It is a brilliant chance for David to experience a new way of life and he goes with our best wishes.

Although everyone at Shire will be sad to come to terms with his absence in the team every week he has left us with some great memories and some terrific goals.

We would like to thank David for his fantastic contribution which included reaching scoring landmarks which had us reaching for the record books. We are sure he will enjoy his new venture and we wish him every success with Box Soccer in Canada.

Two New Players Sign

Coach John Sludden has added to his player pool by completing the signing of two young trialists who have both shown up well in recent matches.

17 year-old defender Aiden McKeown was previously part of Hibernian’s youth academy while midfielder Chris McLaughlin joins Shire from Bannockburn-based amateur side, Milton FC.

Both players have been training with the club for some time and have featured as trialists on the substitutes bench in a few of Shire’s Lowland League games already this season, as well as playing a full part in some of the recent closed-door friendlies.

They have now signed deals to keep them at the club at least until the end of the season. Everyone at the club would like to welcome Aiden and Chris to Shire and we will all watch their football development with interest.

Stirling University Preview

Shire are back in Lowland League action after a week long break when the team takes on Stirling University at The Falkirk Stadium on Friday evening (kick-off 7:45pm).

It is the first outing for John Sludden’s team since the 2-0 victory against Vale of Leithen on 26th August and is a chance for Shire to extend an unbeaten Lowland League run to six games.

The head coach was heartened by the win, and the display, at Innerleithen in Shire’s last public appearance which brought a frustrating sequence of three successive draws to an end.

“I thought there were a number of real positives,” he said. “We played with a good tempo, the passing was good and we got real width to our play, which is something we asked the boys to do.”

But John knows the task facing Shire against the Airthrey students is likely to require an even further step up in standard. Friday’s opponents sit in third place in the league table having collected five more points than their visitors, although the students have played two more games.

An indication of the size of Shire’s task was underlined by Stirling University’s last result.

While the postponement of Shire’s planned Saturday engagement with Spartans left them idle, Stirling University became just one of a handful of teams over the last couple of years to stop East Kilbride winning at home with the sides sharing a 1-1 draw at K Park.

“It will be a big test for us,” said John. “They are  good team as they proved with their result on Saturday. They are fit and well-organised ans they also have the advantage of training every day.

“The two games we played against them last season were both good matches and we are hoping Friday’s will be just as good,” he said.

Shire last faced the Stirling students at Falkirk Stadium back in January on another Friday evening and the team eventually emerged with a hard-fought but deserved 2-0 victory.

“We go into every game with the aim of winning it,” said John. “It doesn’t matter if we are playing the team at the top or one near the bottom. We approach both in a positive manner.”

For a second successive match Shire will wear the second choice red and black kit with Stirling University in their normal green strips. An away game so close to home is an ideal opportunity for many Shire followers who are not regulars at away games to see the team play away from Ochilview and the coaches and the players would greatly appreciate a big and vocal support for a very important match.

Lewis Goes On Loan

Midfielder Lewis Peddie is heading out on loan to local junior side Dunipace until the New Year.

The youngster has not started a competitive game for Shire so far this season but has made some appearances from the substitutes bench.

Lewis is in his third season with Shire and made his competitive debut during the 2015/16 season after a spell with Hamilton Academical.

Coach John Sludden is hoping the temporary move to Dunipace will give Lewis the kind of experience of regular football he needs and will be keeping an eye on his progress.

Lewis Peddie

No Rest For Players

Shire’s scheduled Lowland League game for this weekend against Spartans may have been postponed to a later date but that doesn’t mean time off for the players or coaching staff.

The team was left with a blank fixture date this coming Saturday after Spartans were re-instated in the IRN-BRU Cup following Albion Rovers’ disqualification, but coach John Sludden is planning a full training schedule and is also hoping to play a friendly match as well.

“We will just have a normal week,” said John. “We also want to get a friendly against a league team. There are a few, like us, who are out of the IRN-BRU Cup and who have no scheduled league match.

“There has been contact with a number of teams and we are hopeful of getting something sorted out,” he said.

The coach was happy with last week’s 2-0 away victory at Vale of Leithen, a result which brought to an end a frustrating run of three successive draws.

“There were a number of positives,” said John. “We played with a real tempo, our passing game was better and we got real width to our play, which was something we asked the boys to do.”

Shire’s next competitive game will be on Friday 8th September when the team takes on Stirling University at the Falkirk Stadium in our latest Lowland League outing. Kick-off is 7:45pm.

Photo : Alan Murray, Falkirk Herald.

Shire Sunday

The annual Shire Sunday event will go ahead this year on 10th September at the Falkirk Vineyard Church.

It will be the second time the event has been held and allows the church to acknowledge the partnership between Shire and chaplain, Bill Sharp.

The event is open to players, management, board members and fans and it’s hoped all sections of the Shire family will be able to join the Falkirk Vineyard Church to celebrate all things Shire.

The service will start at 10:30am on Sunday 10th September and goes ahead in the Camelon Education Centre (the old Camelon High School building) behind the Copper Top.

Unbeaten Run Goes On

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.

Vale of Leithen Preview

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.