Coughlin out to prove the bookies wrong again

East Stirlingshire manager John Coughlin believes in his team's abilities
East Stirlingshire manager John Coughlin believes in his team's abilities
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He is not much of a betting man but East Stirlingshire coach John Coughlin is warning those who like a flutter that they risk losing their shirt if they are backing his team to lose.

Coughlin’s team turned thousands of betting slips into confetti with last weekend’s odds-defying away win over Berwick Rangers. And he says his bottom-of-the-table men are in the mood to do it again when they take on Peterhead this Saturday at Ochilview.

Rather than a flash in the pan, though, the Shire boss says the Shielfield win had been brewing for some time.

“I think since the turn of the year our form has been generally quite good,” he said. “We had a poor performance at Clyde where we really did not deserve to take anything from the game, but in every other match since new year we have looked competitive.

“The stats back that up as well. We have now taken eight points from our last six matches and that would have been eleven points but for the fact that we conceded last minute goals against Stranraer and Queen’s Park.”

So those who like to bet against Shire on the strength only of their bottom of the league placing have not been doing their homework. And Coughlin has no sympathy.

“I do not know the first thing about betting but I do take some satisfaction in upsetting the odds. I dare say there have been a few people connected with the club this week who will have been told that the Shire put someone’s coupon down. If people had been paying attention they would have been backing us at good odds to win at a place like Berwick,” he said.

A home win is what Shire will be hoping for when Peterhead come calling this weekend. It will bring former Shire boss Jim McInally back to Ochilview for the first time since he departed in the summer, but Coughlin says there will be no room for sentiment.

“I think the Shire fans have been enjoying the kind of football we have been trying over the last few weeks,” he said. “And there was no doubt the ones who travelled to Berwick were delighted with the win. They gave the team fantastic backing and the boys appreciated that.”

However, Coughlin’s assertion that a settled team has been at the centre of the club’s recent revival will be put to the test on Saturday. Steven Jackson will be missing through suspension and that will mean at least one change in a key area.

“David Cane will come back in and we hope that Ryan Frances will pick up from where he left off at Berwick. That was his first game in a number of months and he certainly did not show any sign of having been out for so long.

“In fact, it was probably his best performance for us since he came here in the summer. But we need to know that he can do it for us on a regular basis and that is the challenge for him.”

Coughlin will also be unable to call upon the experience of Iain Chisholm in defence after he was suspended by the club for an alleged breach of discipline.

“Sometimes things happen on the training ground that you just put up with. But there are times when you have to make a stand against certain types of behaviour,” said the Shire boss.

“The matter is now being investigated by the club and we will just have to wait and see what happens there.”

Chisholm might have been just the kind of player Coughlin would have had no fears about putting up against the dangerous Peterhead striking duo of Rory McAllister and Martin Bavidge. He is now hoping that a pair of teenagers can stand up to the challenge.

“A lot will depend on how we cope with their strikers who are an obvious threat,” he said. “But we played them up there in January and I thought we were very unlucky to lose.