Still work to be done in ‘dead rubbers’ for Shire

Shire boss John Sludden
Shire boss John Sludden

There will be no question of East Stirlingshire’s players ‘downing tools’ over what remains of their season if coach John Sludden has anything to do with it.

In the course of the last two weekends, Shire have seen their chances of clinching the Lowland League title evaporate and their hopes of making the SFA South Region Challenge Cup final dashed by Cumbernauld Colts.

That means the remainder of the campaign consists of, effectively, two ‘dead rubber’ league games, starting with this Saturday’s trip to Dalbeattie Star, and a shot at the Lowland League Cup.

Sludden says, however, he will not allow standards to slip over the few games that are still left to play.

“There won’t be any downing tools,” he said this week. “We have already spoken about it and we will speak about it before Saturday’s game.

“There are two league games left to play and we want to win both of them. That would set us up nicely for the League Cup game at Selkirk on April 29, which is a game we are looking forward to. It’s certainly a competition we are entering with hopes of winning it.”

The Shire boss was realistic enough to know his team’s chances of overhauling champions-elect East Kilbride were long.

But he did have his heart set on reaching the South Region Cup final, which made their last four flop against the Colts at Falkirk Stadium last Friday all the harder to take.

However, he wants his players to turn that disappointment into a positive, starting with this weekend’s penultimate Lowland League match away at Dalbeattie.

“It was a disappointment,” he said of the 3-2 semi-final defeat. “But we just didn’t perform, especially in the second half. Colts deserved their win and we wish them all the best for the final.

“I would hope, though, that we see some sort of a reaction from our players to that, and that we can go to Dalbeattie and put on a good show and win the match. I certainly want to end the league season on a high.”

Shire will not find it easy against Star, who are still in the hunt for fourth place in the Lowland League table, a finishing spot which will give the team that gets it a place in next season’s IRN-BRU Cup.