Saturday’s 3-0 win over Whitehill Welfare at Ochilview leaves Shire one short of a hundred competitive goals for the current season.
Kris Faulds struck his sixth of the campaign against the Rosewell club to complete Saturday’s win and register Shire’s 99th in league and cup games so far this term.
David Grant was on the score sheet again which takes his tally in all competitive games to 29 for the season to this point. He is currently two goals ahead of Andy Rodgers in the leading scorer stakes with Andy currently sitting on 27.
Whichever of them can make it to 30 goals first is still to be seen but if either Andy or Granty do reach the 30 goal milestone they will be the first Shire player since the early 1960s to achieve the landmark.
The last Shire player to score 30 in a season was Jackie Cockburn in 1962/63.
The record books are still being checked to find out if two Shire men have reached 30 goals in the same season. If both strikers can get there it could possibly be the first time in the club’s history that it’s ever happened.
Charlie Denton of Whitehill Welfare gave us a little footnote in our scoring season by becoming the first opposition player to score an own goal for Shire.
The latest complete list of Shire scorers for 2016/17 season is as follows :
David Grant 29; Andy Rodgers 27; Paul Sludden 13; Jamie Glasgow 12; Kris Faulds 6; Connor Greene 5; Derek Ure 3; Liam Allison 1; Andy Grant 1; Dylan McGuigan 1; Own Goal 1.
What was billed as a depleted Shire squad came through its test against Whitehill Welfare at Ochilview as the team recorded its first home victory of 2017 against a determined set of opponents, winning 3-0 in the end.
With no Connor Greene, Andy Rodgers or Paul Sludden to call upon there had to be changes both in personnel and in tactics and formation, but coach John Sludden was happy with the way the players carried out their instructions as the plans were set to cope with the upheaval caused by the absence of the suspended trio.
“We got what we asked for,” said John afterwards as a first half goal from leading scorer David Grant was added to after the interval by an own goal and a third strike from Kris Faulds.
The coach was not without his criticisms but he was full of warm praise not only for the win but also the manner of it, playing crisp, clever, passing football.
“We asked them to play at a tempo and we got that,” said the coach. “We wanted them to play at a pace in the final third and in the wide areas and we got that which was really pleasing.
“We changed it by going to a 4-4-2 to give us more width and we spoke about it at length with them at training on Tuesday and Thursday and they did very well.”
The coach also wanted the team to try and win the game early.
To that end Shire devised a set play straight from kick-off to see if they could score with the opening attack of the game. It almost came off but the fact that it didn’t underlined the coach’s one criticism of the overall performance.
“We looked at how we could score straight from our own centre,” he said. Unfortunately, Steven (Brisbane) just picked the wrong option and he put his hand up for that one. But in the first fifteen minutes we chose the wrong pass and we couldn’t get the early goal.”
Nevertheless, the coach remained confident as the team continued to create openings and chances to score. They had to wait until 38 minutes before one finally did go over the line.
“It was a great finish from Granty and we just went on from there and I thought we finished the game very strongly and we could have added another couple but it just wasn’t to be.”
Shire played most of the second half with an extra man after the visitors’ Connor McGregor was sent-off just a minute after the re-start. But it took Shire a while to make the numerical advantage tell and the coach says the players were warned.
“If someone switches off then it becomes ten versus ten,” he said. “They were told to keep the ball moving, open the park up and make it big and make the ten men work. And after a while they did that and created chance after chance.”
The game could have been potentially tricky minus three key players and against a set of opponents who came into the encounter having won six of their last nine. In the end it was a potentially troubling encounter negotiated successfully.
“It was very pleasing,” said John. “We have said all along it’s not just eleven players, it’s a squad and what we have tried to get from day one is a good squad of players and that shows when guys who have been out the team come in and they gave everything and helped get us a victory.”
You can read a full match report and watch video highlights of Shire’s 3-0 win over Whitehill Welfare here .
Shire’s latest Lowland League challenge will send in-form Whitehill Welfare to Ochilview for an important test for coach John Sludden and his team.
Although the two clubs have met before at Ferguson Park this will be the Rosewell-based side’s first-ever visit to Shire whether at Firs Park or Ochilview, but not the first time they have played a game at Shire’s home venue.
In the late 1980s they visited Firs Park at face Stirling Albion in a Scottish Cup-tie when Albion were banned from playing home games in the competition on their artificial surface at Annfield.
Welfare’s first ‘proper’ visit to Shire will be eagerly anticipated – David Bingham’s team have won six of their last nine matches and they do not lack the scoring touch either, having found the back of the net 26 times in those nine games.
What they do lack is continuity; Whitehiil Welfare have suffered at the hands of the weather since the turn of the year and last week’s planned visit to Selkirk was postponed due to heavy rainfall.
Shire will have to change things around due to player suspensions. Connor Greene, Andy Rodgers and Paul Sludden are serving bans and will not be available for this game. On the plus side Liam Allison returns after missing last week’s 3-0 win at Gretna 2008 and there are hopes Jamie Glasgow will be fit to play after he sat out the Raydale Park game with a tight hamstring.
Last weekend’s victory was Shire’s sixth away win on the bounce :
However, the team has hit a bit of a slump at Ochilview. The last outing there saw the team lose it’s unbeaten home league record against Spartans and the last victory Shire recorded there was the 5-0 win over Selkirk on 26th November last year.
This weekend’s match will be a chance for Shire to record their first home victory of 2017. Coach Sludden is aware that he will have to do a bit of tinkering to his starting eleven and has at least worked out in his head how to approach a difficult match without three key players.
That said, he says he trusts whoever gets the nod to go out and give their best in pursuit of another three point haul.
“That’s why you have a squad,” he said. “It’s not just about eleven players. We have said often enough that others will get their chances and when they get it they need to seize it.
“We have seen it happen already this season when someone has come in as a result of injury and suspension and then held on to the jersey.
“Suspensions are just part of the game,” said John. “Every team gets them. We are no different and we just need to adjust to that and get on with it. ”
Shire and Whitehill Welfare have already met once this season, at Ferguson Park in August when the visitors ran out 5-2 winners thanks to a clinical second half display following an end-to-end first 45 minutes that ended all-square at 2-2.
“That was a real cup-tie of a game,” said the Shire coach. “It took us time to get to grips with it and, in the end, the quality we had up front told.”
The coach was full of praise for the large band of travelling supporters who made the journey to last week’s game at Gretna and he is hoping, along with the players, for a big home crowd to get behind the team and give them the encouragement they need to get the right result. We urge everyone who can come along to do so and play their part in another vital Shireday.
The Shire squad took part in a closed-door workout at Ochilview on Tuesday evening against Stenhousemuir.
The friendly match gave some of the players who have not started games recently some much-needed match practice and gave coach John Sludden some food for thought ahead of Saturday’s Lowland League game against Whitehill Welfare at Ochilview.
The coach will have to make changes with Connor Greene, Andy Rodgers, and Paul Sludden all suspended. The bounce game with the Warriors was the perfect chance to impress and claim one of the starting places in the weekend team.
“It’s hard getting game time for those who don’t start on a Saturday,” said the head coach. “Although Steven Brisbane got 70 minutes at Gretna on Saturday, he needs to play and there are others like him.”
The Shire coach has been actively seeking more midweek matches and will continue to try to find opponents. The Lowland League does not have reserve teams but does operate an under-20 league which Shire are not part of.
The coach has set up so,me Tuesday night games but admits it is difficult.
“We would like to play more games on a Tuesday but finding opponents and a venue can be difficult,” he said.
Shire will play at Ochilview for the first time in the month of February this Saturday when Whitehill Welfare are the visitors.
Although the clubs have met in cup-ties and, earlier this season, in the Lowland League at Rosewell’s Ferguson Park, this will be Shire’s first-ever competitive home game against Whitehill Welfare.
Coach John Sludden and the squad are hoping to get back to winning ways at home after a run of three Ochilview matches without a victory. A win is foremost in their minds and a good home support would be appreciated.
It was great to see so many people at the last Ochilview game against Spartans on 29th January and a similar turnout would really help the players.
The number of fans who travelled to see the team win 3-0 at Gretna 2008 on Saturday was really heartening and was welcomed by the head coach.
“It wasn’t a great day for the weather, so to see so many come along was fantastic,” said John. “The players really appreciated it and showed that appreciation at full-time.” Saturday’s win was Shire’s sixth successive away victory and will give everyone the encouragement they need for what will be a tough game against one of the Lowland League’s most in-form teams.
The Forth Valley Football Academy is holding a fundraising dinner dance in April.
The event is in partnership with the MacDonald Inchyra Hotel and Spa and takes place on Saturday 29th April and includes a three course meal, disco and a live tribute act taking you into some of your favorite films.
Tickets cost £28 per person and tables can also be booked by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org of calling 01324 711911.
The Forth Valley Football Academy is a partnership between East Stirlingshire FC, Falkirk FC, and Stenhousemuir FC aimed at developing the best young football talent in the area for the long-term benefit of the member clubs.
Young fan Zico Bennett made an epic trip to see his first-ever Shire game but it was a journey that proved well worth it on Saturday.
He travelled from his home in Wales with grandad Martin Nott to see Shire record a 3-0 victory against Gretna 2008 at Raydale Park and went home with a ball signed by coach John Sludden and the players after presenting Drew Ramsay with his Ladbrokes Shire Player of the Month award for January.
While Zico was making his Shire debut, his grandad is a well-known face to many people at Shire having made many trips to Ochilview, and to away games from his Cardiff home, often leaving at eye-opening times on a Saturday morning to make kick-off.
Martin and members of his family have also been generous sponsors over a number of years, backing that commitment with a vital, and welcome, contribution to the well-being of the club.
Afterwards, the Shire coach expressed admiration for Martin and Zico’s commitment to the cause.
“It’s one of the only away games they can get to and get back home again on the same day,” said John. “It’s unbelievable to listen to them talk about the trains and buses they get just to get to the game.”
The coach was also once again full of praise for all of the Shire supporters who made the trip to cheer the team on to a 3-0 Lowland League victory.
“It was a terrible day for the weather but they still came to support the team and gave us great encouragement,” he said. “It’s great how many people travel to the away games all over the country and all the coaches and the players really appreciate it.”
Coach John Sludden praised his team’s “sleeves rolled up” display as Shire returned to winning ways on Saturday with a 3-0 away victory over Gretna 2008 at Raydale Park.
Andy Rodgers set the team on their way to a sixth straight Lowland League away win by opening the scoring after eight minutes, although keeper Jamie Barclay had to save a 23rd minute penalty before late goals from Rodgers and David Grant confirmed the three points.
The three goals were again top drawer but the coach admitted that the main quality of the display had been a hard-nosed resilience. He says that was partly based as much on the playing conditions as the opposition.
“It wasn’t the best of days for weather,” he said. “There was a howling wind straight down the pitch, there was rain and the park itself was soft, so we knew it was going to be a day when we would have to get the sleeves rolled up and work hard.
“That said, we played some good football at times and the goals were excellent, but we knew we would have to battle at times.”
That thinking had a direct influence on team selection. With Paul Sludden suspended and Jamie Glasgow not risked due to a tight hamstring, the coach made a number of personnel and tactical changes from the last game, a 4-1 defeat against Spartans a fortnight earlier.
“We brought Michael Oliver in at centre-half and moved Andy Grant to right-back,” he said. “That allowed us to play Graeme MacGergor in beside Derek Ure as a kind of midfield defensive shield and Graeme did very well in that role.
“Steven Brisbane also came in and he gives you some physical presence as well. That was always going to be important given the conditions.”
Of just as much importance was the return to goal scoring form of Andy Rodgers. The striker had been in a good run but his brace at Raydale Park was his first goal haul of 2017 and broke a four match scoring drought.
“We spoke to Andy and just asked him to try and get back to the Andy Rodgers that we knew earlier in the season and we are glad he managed to do that. Both his goals were excellent and he could have had a hat-trick.”
Just as important to the win was the contribution of keeper Jamie Barclay. The Shire goalie made one great save early in the match but his most vital intervention of the afternoon came after 23 minutes when his penalty kick save prevented Gretna from drawing level at 1-1.
“It was a poor penalty to give away from our point of view,” said John. “But he did well to save it and he made other good saves as well. The wind did not make things easy for him especially with the high ball coming at him from wide areas.”
Overall, the coach says it was just good to be back to winning ways after having lost the last time out and having to wait an additional week to get the chance to put that right to to a weather-enforced postponement last weekend.
“That was the main thing,” he said. “After the Spartans result we needed to get a win. It was a good one too and now we just need to start afresh and get another unbeaten run going.”
Read a full match report and watch video highlights of Shire’s 3-0 Raydale Park win here .
Shire return to action this week after a weather-enforced week break with a Lowland League match at Gretna 2008.
The game will be the team’s first opportunity to get back on the rails after a disappointing 4-1 defeat against Spartans at Ochilview almost a fortnight ago.
Although Paul Sludden will be suspended for this game following his red card in the Spartans match, coach John Sludden should have the rest of his squad fit and available minus long-term injury victim, goalie Dean Shaw.
The coach has been careful to nurse one or two players who have some knocks and strains through this week’s training schedule and, as well as making one enforced change, may look at further ways of freshening things up.
The trip to Raydale Park in Gretna is not an unfamiliar one to Shire – the club played there against the now-defunct Gretna FC when both were members of the old Scottish Football League Third Division between 2002 and 2005.
This weekend’s game will be Shire’s first at the venue since April 2005 and they will be looking to record their first-ever victory there. The team is in good form on their travels of late and have won their last five away games, the last being a narrow, but merited, 1-0 victory over Edinburgh University at East Peffermill.
The two teams have already met at Ochilview this season. That match came in October of last year and Shire turned in one of their best displays of the season to win 5-0 against opponents who were doing well at that time.
Gretna 2008 have had an indifferent start to 2017 and have yet to win a match since the turn of the new year, although they have not been helped in that quest by postponements. Last weekend their game at Civil Service Strollers was abandoned with 15 minutes to go when one of the opposition players suffered an unfortunate leg break. The score at the time was 1-1.
They do possess a better away record than at Raydale Park but there’s not much in it and Gretna 2008 showed enough in the encounter at Ochilview to give Shire some food for thought this weekend. They have a number of players on loan from Queen of the South and Shire will need to be very wary.
The clash of the league’s only two black-and-white teams means Shire, as the visitors, will change into the alternative yellow-and-blue strip which was last seen in public when the team recorded a 10-1 away victory at Gala Fairydean Rovers.
The match referee is Lloyd Wilson. Kick-off is 3:00pm and admission is £6.00 for adults with children going free. The Supporters Club is running a bus to the game and if you want to book a seat then call Sandy Nimmo on 07803 708119.
The players and coaches would love to see as many Shire fans as possible travel to cheer them on in what will be an important and challenging match. If you are able please try to make the effort to follow the team this weekend.
Drew Ramsay has topped our Twitter poll and has won the January Ladbrokes Shire Player of the Month.
It tops a really good few weeks for Drew, who has only recently won his place back in the starting eleven after injury.
The former Clyde and Cumbernauld Colts played joined Shire in September and immediately slotted in to the left-back role but after suffering a broken wrist in October he lost his place in the team to Liam Allison and found it hard to win it back.
He was restored to the starting eleven in the 6-0 win over BSC Glasgow at Alloa on Hogmanay and has been an ever-present since.
Drew was one of four star men singled out by coach John Sludden as the January Player of the Month nominees along with Jamie Barclay, Andy Grant and club captain Derek Ure.
Congratulations to Drew and thanks to everyone who took the time to enter the poll and also to main sponsor Ladbrokes for supporting the award scheme throughout the season.