Mooney’s hope Peni will drop for early expectations

Connor Greene
Connor Greene

East Stirlingshire should not be judged on their early season friendly and Betfred Cup results but on whether they achieve their longer-term objectives.

Assistant coach Martin Mooney’s comments come as Shire get back into some on-the- field action ahead of the start of their first-ever Lowland League season.

Martin Mooney

Martin Mooney

The first outing, a 3-0 defeat in a friendly against Queen’s Park, was followed by a 1-0 closed-door triumph over Ayr United on Monday evening.

Those games will be followed by another friendly, at junior side Penicuik Athletic on Saturday, before the first of four Betfred Cup Group F matches; away at Stranraer on Tuesday and at home to Rangers next Friday.

Mooney says it is important that all of these games are set against the context of the main aim of winning their league and getting back into the SPFL in one go.

“We will take the Stranraer and the Rangers game and use them as pre-season,” he said. “But we will also use them to see where our benchmark is.

The Annan games will give us a better indication of where we are but it really is all about the league.

“We’ve not signed a team to compete against Queen’s Park in League 1, we have signed players to realise our aim of winning the Lowland League and hopefully people will be able to understand that,” said Mooney.

“There have been positives so far,” said the Shire assistant boss. “Maybe only three or four of the boys have played together before so that will take a bit of time to get right.

“We looked at certain players in different positions too. The players seem to have enjoyed it so far but now we are getting down to the nitty-gritty.”

Mooney says it will take time to get the blend right and makes no excuses for using the four group games Shire will play in the Betfred Cup as a way of fine-tuning for the Lowland League.

The first game of that crucial 30-match test comes on Saturday August 6, when Vale of Leithen visit Ochilview with outings coming thick and fast after that. Mooney says it is vital they aren’t left behind at the start line. “It’ll be a bit of a novelty to start off with,” he said. “And competition will be fierce as the other clubs in the league look at what Edinburgh City achieved last year.

“The first six games will be very important and it’s vital we get off to a good start. Every team will hit a lull and you have to hope that if that happens it doesn’t go on for too long. But what you can’t really afford is to get off to a slow start in the league.”

The club received a significant boost at the weekend when another fans’ favourite, Connor Greene, put pen to paper on a new one-year contract, bringing to five the number of last season’s squad who have returned.

Mooney also landed former Hamilton Accies youngster Dylan McGuigan who showed up well in the Queen’s Park match. The 20 year-old has spent the last two seasons playing junior football with Cumbernauld United.

“He’s not scared to take the ball in any position and he has something which defenders hate which is directness; he goes and takes people on, he commits people and opens up space and he can play just about anywhere on the park.”

Shire are hopeful more new faces will join over the next few days an certainly in time for Tuesday’s trip to Stranraer.

“That will be a tough one for us as Stranraer you would expect will be a decent side but we will be giving it our best shot,” he said.