John Sludden never believed for a moment that his East Stirlingshire players would thrown in the towel on their season after January’s defeat against Spartans appeared to end their Lowland League title ambitions.
And his faith in the squad has been justified as Shire have bounced back from that disappointment with three successive wins without conceding a goal.
They will aim to make it four in a row when they take on Cumbernauld Colts at Broadwood on tomorrow evening and, in the process, seek to extend their winning streak on the road to seven matches.
Sludden this week paid tribute to the attitude of his squad who have knuckled down and stuck to their task. The coach even maintains that there is plenty still to play for.
“The Spartans game was a big disappointment but we said at the time there was still a lot of football to be played and that we would just need to go again,” he said. “And to be fair to everyone in the squad they have done that. Their attitude and work rate at training and in the games has been pleasing and we just want to continue this good run.”
While some might have found it easy to believe that Shire would lose motivation after the chance to close the gap on leaders East Kilbride all but vanished with the 4-1 home Spartans defeat, the coach himself says he knows his players too well to think that of them.
“I think there are too many winners in the dressing room for that to happen,” he said. “We started the season looking to see how far we could go in the league and the cups and that remains the same.
“We still have that focus and we will continue to plod away in the league with the attitude that you just never know, and we still are involved in two cups.
Although Shire beat Friday night’s opponents 3-0 in the reverse fixture at Ochilview earlier in the season, Cumbernauld Colts remain one of the better teams in the Lowland League.
They are still very much in with a shout of a fourth place finish which would be rewarded with a place in next season’s IRN-BRU Cup and Sludden knows it will be a stern test for his team.
He will be able to call upon his son Paul following his three-match suspension.