Head coach John Sludden continues to make more signings – none more important than his coaching team, all of whom have agreed to stay at the club for the 2017/18 season.
Assistant coach Martin Mooney will pen an extension to his current contract until the end of next season.
And coach/scout Robert Philliben and goalkeeping coach Norrie Bremner will stay on for another year as well.
It follows agreement between John and the club to continue his existing contract, which was up at the end of this season, to the summer of 2018.
“This is really good news,” said John. “Martin and Norrie and Robert put in so much hard work and a lot of what they do goes unseen but it should never go unnoticed or unrecognised.
“Martin’s input is vital in everything we do. Norrie works had with the goalies at training and trying to make them better and Robert also works hard with the players at training and he also goes all over the place watching opponents, making up reports and ensuring that we are properly prepared for each team we face.”
Last week the head coach secured his own future with the club as part of the club’s forward planning beyond the current campaign.
Andy Rodgers has agreed to extend his stay at the club for another season.
The striker has put pen to paper on a contract extension while will keep him a Shire player until the end of the 2017/18 season.
The club moved quickly to offer Andy a contract extension in the light of the agreement reached with the coaching staff to stay for an additional year.
Andy’s double at Vale of Leithen takes his goal tally for the season so far to 23 and he now has a total of 56 career goals for the club in 110 appearances in two separate spells since making his debut in 2007/8 season.
Everyone at the club is delighted that Andy has agreed to stay on for another year.
Work is continuing behind the scenes to ensure Shire get a head start for the 2017/18 season with the groundwork for next season’s campaign already starting to be done.
Shire coach John Sludden praised his team’s adaptability after they defeated Vale of Leithen 4-2 in the club’s final pre-Christmas Lowland League fixture.
Two goals from Andy Rodgers and strikes by Kris Faulds and Paul Sludden eased Shire through an at times difficult afternoon at Victoria Park and maintained their second place in the league table.
The victory, for the coach, was a triumph for the team’s ability to overcome not just a difficult set of opponents but also the conditions, especially the playing surface.
“We knew we would have to adapt,” said John after the game. “The pitch was very heavy and soft underneath and that meant we couldn’t play our normal game.
“They guys like to get the ball down and pass it at pace but that wasn’t going to be possible, so we set out to play it long to the strikers to run on to but we got off to a slow start.”
Shire fell behind to Blair Atkinson’s 12th minute strike and it wasn’t until just after the half hour that Rodgers brought the scores level.
“They were great,” John said of Shire’s opponents. “They were aggressive and committed, as we expected them to be, and played it like a cup-tie. They got in behind us a few times but once the players started to do what we asked of them we got the advantage at half-time.”
That said, Shire lost that 2-1 lead just three minutes into the second half only fort them to go back in front from the penalty spot a minute later.
“We started the second half slowly and a bit of sloppy play cost us the second goal,” said the coach. “But we responded perfectly and went straight up the park from kick-off with a good move that got the penalty.”
Shire never gave up the advantage again and the win was, in the coach’s view, the perfect response to the previous week’s disappointment of letting a 3-1 lad go and having to settle for a draw.
“We needed to get a win after what happened last Saturday so it was good from that perspective as well.”
The coach also praised the travelling fans who made the journey to Innerleithen to back the team.
“They’ve been with us all season and it’s fantastic,” he said. “But for so many to come to an away game just a week before Christmas says a lot. The support they give us is great and really does help the team.”
You can read a full report on the Vale of Leithen win and watch match highlights here .
Shire do not now have another game until Hogmanay when the team will face BSC Glasgow at The Recs (kick-off 3:00pm).
Shire’s final fixture before the Christmas break takes the team to Vale of Leithen looking to extend their unbeaten run of games to seven.
A sequence of five successive victories came to an end with last week’s 3-3 draw against Civil Service Strollers but the team have not lost in the league since September and are still in second place in the table.
It will be Shire’s first visit to Victoria Park in Innerleithen since a 1992/93 Scottish Cup match which ended in a 2-2 draw with Shire winning a replay after extra-time at Firs Park.
This weekend’s opponents sit in tenth place in the league having dropped from a high of sixth after a disappointing sequence of results. They have not won any of their last five and went down 2-0 to third top Dalbeattie Star at Islecroft Stadium last Saturday.
Shire will wear the traditional black and white hoops and the match referee is Ryan Oliver. Fans should note the game will start an hour earlier than usual at 2:00pm. We would love to see as many Shire fans as possible to help the team.
MATCH : Shire have now played six matches since last losing, a last-gasp Scottish Cup replay defeat at the hands of Annan Athletic on 29th October and the 3-3 draw against Civil Service Strollers last Saturday was the only occasion the team has dropped league points in their last seven fixtures.
Shire will also be looking to extend their unbeaten away run to four games, having recorded two wins and a draw since their last defeat on the road. The last time Shire played away from Ochilview the team ran in ten goals against Gala Fairydean Rovers at Netherdale.
Vale of Leithen had been enjoying a much-improved season until the start of November but their form has dipped to the extent that a 3-1 win over Gretna 2008 on 5th November was the last time they tasted victory with the five subsequent games yielding four defeats and just a single league point in a 1-1 draw at Edinburgh University.
However, they have a dangerous squad of players including former Stenhousemuir midfielder Kevin Motion, and their home form remains solid with only one match in that five game winless streak having been played at Victoria Park.
Shire coach John Sludden could add new signing Steven Brisbane if the registration formalities are completed in time but will again be without Connor Hogg and back-up keeper Dean Shaw. There are no outstanding suspensions.
PAST : The teams have already met once this season in Lowland League action. The match, in August, was Shire’s debut in the competition and despite taking the lead through Andy Grant the team had to fight hard to get a 2-2 draw with the visitors also missing a penalty kick.
Until last weekend that game was the only time Shire had dropped home points so far this season. It continued a recent history of tough encounters between the sides which began in the Scottish Cup when Vale were in the East of Scotland League. Shire escaped from Victoria Park with a 3-1 win in the late 1980s but in 1992/93 they had a 2-0 lead erased there and then needed extra-time to win a replay 3-2 at Firs Park.
VIEWPOINT : This week Shire coach John Sludden completed a one year contract extension until the end of the 2017/18 season, but more urgently he wants to see the team get back to winning ways this weekend.
While the Civil Service Strollers result, “felt like a defeat”, he says it’s important to remember that it wasn’t and that the team is still defending an unbeaten run of results going into the match, which he anticipates will be very tough indeed.
You can listen to John’s full pre-game comments by clicking on the link below :
Shire striker Paul Sludden collected the November Player of the Month award this week. He says the Civil Service Strollers match should be treated as a learning experience for the team.
But he is not about to take Vale of Leithen lightly. Paul, who has considerable experience in the Lowland League and the East of Scotland League, thinks the current Vale team is the best one to turn out for the Innerleithen club that he has played against.
You can listen to Paul’s thoughts ahead of Shire’s trip south by clicking on the link below :
We are delighted to announce that former Shire midfielder Steven Brisbane has returned to the club on a short-term deal until the end of the current season.
The former Falkirk youth academy player had a short spell in junior football before signing for Shire in the summer of 2014. He went on to make 30 league and cup appearances for the club in the 2014/15 season, scoring just one goal in a 1-1 draw at Clyde in March 2015.
Ironically, at the end of that season Brizzy chose not to extend his stay with Shire and instead joined Clyde on a one year deal. However, his first team opportunities were limited at The Bully Wee and he left the Broadwood club in the summer of 2016.
Since then the talented midfielder has had a complete break from football but has been back training with his former club in the last few weeks.
Coach John Sludden expects this weekend’s trip to face Vale of Leithen in the team’s latest Lowland League outing to be every bit as tough as the previous week’s draw against Civil Service Strollers.
He anticipates a set of opponents who will be similar in style and approach and is warning his players they need to be ready to match that at Victoria Park on Saturday (kick-off 2:00pm).
John admits last Saturday’s 3-3 draw was, “like a defeat”, after Shire had held a 3-1 half-time lead but gave credit to their opponents and he anticipates that Vale of Leithen will be just as motivated to get the right result.
“We can expect the same again on Saturday against Vale,” he said. “They’ll be physical which is something that hasn’t been a problem for us. But maybe on Saturday we weren’t aggressive enough, especially in our own box, which hasn’t been like us so hopefully we can go back to ‘as you were’ on Saturday.
“All credit to Civil Service Strollers who deserved credit for their performance and we expect a similar kind of game (this weekend).”
There were no recriminations after last week’s result, which brought to an end a run of five successive victories in all competitions, but what was evident was an agreement to accept that standards had dipped in the second half.
There has also been a willingness to work hard in training this week at Little Kerse to make sure the desired level of performance is reached when the team travels to Innerleithen.
“In the last six or seven weeks the standards that have been set have been absolutely fantastic,” said John. “So at the end of the game on Saturday it wasn’t a case of shouting or bawling because the players knew.
“They put their hands up because they knew they’d taken the foot off the gas a wee bit. They maybe thought the way we had been playing that they’d go on and get another two or three goals in the second half. But you’ve got to earn that which they didn’t do. Hopefully it’s just a wee blip.”
The team will certainly be hoping to get one over on Vale after the clubs’ 2-2 draw on the opening day of the league season at Ochilview. The visitors had the better of what was Shire’s first-ever Lowland League game but John says his players have learned about the teams at this level now and are better equipped than they were back in August, especially now they have faced everyone once.
“The players have found out about the teams we are facing for themselves rather than having to rely on the information we give them, so that does help as well,” he said.
And despite the disappointment of the last game the coach says confidence is high.
“We can’t be too disheartened,” he said. “If you look at the run we’ve been on it’s been good but we need the three points rather than just one.”
The coach and all the players would really appreciate a big Shire support at Saturday’s game. Please be there if you can.
Paul Sludden claims the manner in which Shire’s run of five straight wins came to an end is something to learn from as the team prepares to travel to Vale of Leithen for this weekend’s Lowland League game.
The November Player of the Month was as hurt as anyone to have to settle for a 3-3 draw in last Saturday’s game against Civil Service Strollers, especially as Shire had led 3-1 at the half-time interval.
But, he says, as painful as it was, the second half experience at Ochilview could help the team in the long run if the mistakes made are counted as a lesson.
“Personally, it took me a couple of days to get over it,” said Paul. “It’s about learning. It’s about realising what happens when you make mistakes and making sure you try and change it the next time your involved in it.
“It’s about using it as an experience and a tool that hopefully, in the future, will help us.”
Now the team needs to prepare properly for the next challenge it faces. Shire will travel to face a Vale of Leithen team that hasn’t won for a few weeks but Paul doesn’t believe that will count for anything as far as this weekend’s game goes.
Their form in the early part of the season took many by surprise, including Shire who had to fight for a 2-2 draw when they last played Vale at Ochilview in August. Paul says they have been improving for some time.
“That was the best I’ve seen Vale of Leithen play in my years in the league,” he said of the August encounter. “They’ve got a lot of decent players who have played in the Lowland League for a while and we know about Kevin Motion from his time at Stenhousemuir.
“They have guys who have quality and we saw that at the start of the season and the 2-2 score was fair. So we will have to go there and work hard if we are to get back to where we have been.”
And Paul expects the players this weekend to be motivated, as always. But he also thinks there will be an additional determination to do well because they appreciate what went wrong in the second half against Civil Service Strollers and because they know they have to do better.
“We’ve got a really young team but what it shows that every game is a test and as a young player you need to learn from that and rectify your mistakes.
“And that’s what we hope to do on Saturday – learn from the mistakes and not just from Saturday. But we need to use the things that have worked well for us and make them work for our benefit as well as learn from the things that maybe haven’t gone as well.”
Paul and the rest of the Shire team would really appreciate your support in this weekend’s game. We would love as many Shire fans as possible to be there and get right behind the team in what will be an important match.
Shire full-back Liam Allison has signed a contract extension which means the popular player will stay at the club until the summer.
The former Stirling University and Camelon Juniors man originally joined the club in October on a short-term deal until the expiry of the January transfer window.
But his displays in the team since then have been rewarded with an extension.
Liam came to Shire after regular left-back Drew Ramsay was left on the sidelines with a broken wrist, and he was given the number three jersey less than 24 hours after completing his registration in the SFA South Region Challenge Cup game against Mid Annandale at Lockerbie.
He hasn’t looked back since then and has started every match, keeping his place even after Drew returned to full fitness. He was one of four nominees for the October Player of the Month. Liam’s attack-minded play has helped set up some important goals and he has also proven a threat in the opposition box, as this goal in the 6-2 win over Preston Athletic shows.
The extension of Liam’s deal follows on closely from an agreement with goalkeeper Jamie Barclay, who found himself in a similar situation.
Both signings are part of a plan to allow head coach John Sludden some stability as he plans a course for the club into the new year.
Shire travel to Innerleithen this weekend for the first time in more than twenty years for a Lowland League game against Vale of Leithen at Victoria Park (kick-off 2:00pm).
While the visitors will be hoping to extend an unbeaten six match run, Vale’s ambition will be to end a barren sequence of five matches in all competitions without a victory – a run extended by last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat against Dalbeattie Star at Islecroft Stadium.
Vale were the first-ever Lowland League visitors to Ochilview this season and until last weekend’s 3-3 draw with Civil Service Strollers were the only team to take any league points against Shire there this season.
That 2-2 draw was an impressive indication that Vale were set for a season of improvement on recent league showings and in the early part of the part of the campaign they were able to build on it.
A run of four victories in five matches at one point had Vale in sixth spot but six defeats in their last nine league outings, and only two wins, have now left them in ninth. Their last league win came on 5th November when Gretna 2008 were defeated 3-1 at Victoria Park.
The cups haven’t brought much joy either – Vale were dumped out of the SFA South of Scotland Challenge Cup by South of Scotland League Threave Rovers.
Injuries have played a big part in recent events and they are now starting to recover from that. The defeat at Dalbeattie was disappointing but not without its positives and there is no doubt that Vale will be highly-motivated for the visit of Shire on Saturday.
Their squad still contains the key components that proved crucial in the last meeting ; top scorer Blair Atkinson, on loan from Spartans, and fellow striker Keith McLeod remain a danger while Shire have had plenty of encounters with former Stenhousemuir man Kevin Motion over the years to know his value to any team he plays for.
Shire’s previous visits to Victoria Park are so long ago as to not have any relevance to this week’s game, but those historical encounters do prove that it is never an easy place to go in search of a win and that will remain the case this weekend.