East Stirlingshire received a huge boost this week when experienced defender Michael Bolochoweckyj put pen to paper on a new deal for next season.
The contract extension means the 29 year-old will stay at the club at least until May 2015, continuing his close relationship with a club that persuaded him to rejoin for a second spell in the summer.
With his central defensive partner, Chris Townsley, already tied down to a contract that lasts until the end of the 2014/15 season, Shire look well-placed to continue their steady improvement after two successive last-place finishes in the league table.
“We are obviously delighted the Michael has put pen to paper at this early stage,” said club secretary, Tadek Kopszywa. “His affection for the club is genuine and strong and it shows.
“Michael is written into the folklore and history of the club; his contribution at the end of 2007/08 season almost single-handedly saved us from what would have been a disaster had we been bottom of the league that season and, of course, he will go down as the man who scored the last ever goal at Firs Park.
“It’s no surprise that he is loved by people here and I think that is reflected in his desire to stay,” he said.
Bolochoweckyj’s partnership at the heart of the Shire defence with his former Alloa Athletic teammate Townsley has been the rock on which Shire’s rise up the SPFL Scottish League Two table has been built and the club can now look forward to that continuing into next season.
Coach John Coughlin will have both back fit and available for this weekend’s league clash against bottom side Queen’s Park at Airdrie. Bolochoweckyj missed Saturday’s disappointing defeat at Clyde because of a chest infection but he is back in training this week and should play.
However, it is unlikely that club captain Kevin Turner will be fit. He is still struggling with an ankle injury and his continued absence is a real worry for the coach of a side who are currently finding goals hard to come by.
The return of Calum Gallagher to Rangers at the end of his loan spell has not helped and playing Jamie Glasgow as a lone front man at Clyde did not bear fruit.
It remains to be seen whether Coughlin will change things for this weekend’s important clash but he does have Paul Quinn available again after injury. The former Stenhousemuir man was a late substitute at Clyde and made an impression in his brief appearance.
Shire have every right to feel wary of Saturday’s opponents. Queen’s Park are well adrift at the foot of the league table but have just appointed former St. Mirren manager Gus McPherson to replace the departed Gardner Spiers and, by all accounts, were unlucky to lose at leaders Peterhead last weekend.
A tight league table means that although Shire remain just two points off the play-off positions they must also take into account the improving form of three of the sides below them who are experiencing a ‘bounce’ in form after appointing new managers.
Queen’s Park are one of those teams and their players will be out to impress their new boss on Saturday.
Although they are a long way behind the rest of the league, the Spiders have shown plenty of fight in their two league encounters with Shire this season. Coughlin’s side took the points in the opening match of the season at Hampden but were fortunate to escape with a draw when the sides finished all-square at Ochilview in October in what was one of Shire’s poorest performances of the entire campaign.