Survival can come into Shire’s focus

East Stirlingshire manager Craig Tully.
East Stirlingshire manager Craig Tully.

The strong spirit and clear focus shown by East Stirlingshire’s players in Saturday’s draw at Berwick Rangers should get them out of their current plight, according to coach Craig Tully.

The Shire boss was disappointed not to have taken all three points at Shielfield, a result which would have taken them off the bottom of League 2, but he sees plenty of hope if they can maintain that level of performance.

The team will try again to get the points required to lift them off the last rung of the ladder when they travel to Hampden to face Queen’s Park, and Tully is in optimistic mood.

“We had some good chances to win towards the end of the game,” he said. “That was the disappointing aspect, but I felt really positive about our attitude and the way the players handled the setbacks that were thrown at them.

“Too many times this season the loss of an early goal has seen the heads drop and that has been the beginning of the end of our chances of winning the match.

“But twice we fought back from a goal down and there was a real determination and drive to recover from that, and that is positive for us and something we need to harness in all our remaining matches.”

Some challenges remain, though. Shire’s inability to start matches well was again evident at Berwick and it was just as well his players showed the required attitude and determination to keep themselves in the game, otherwise they could have been going in to this weekend’s game cut adrift from the other teams in the league.

After a run of three defeats which Tully admitted had drained the confidence there was plenty of talking done in the run up to the Berwick match, with the players themselves encouraged to openly discuss where their problems lay.

Out of that seems to have emerged a new spirit of togetherness which was evident both on and off the pitch at Shielfield. Tully is now hoping they can use that experience to move higher up the league table.

“I think they are capable of being much higher up the league,” he said. “When you look at the games this season there hasn’t been much in it and there are some defeats which could quite easily have brought us points.”

The same could not be said of Shire’s last trip to the national stadium in September when Queen’s Park ran out 5-1 winners. That game was a sore one for Tully but, he says, some good emerged out of it.

“I think after that game there was a lot of soul-searching and that focussed us to go on a good wee run of results that had us on a high. We slipped off the pace in December and January but we have tried to be open and iron out these issues once more.

“That showed at Berwick and I am sure that we can build something positive out of the setbacks. We have done it before and we can do it.

“I hate losing and I want to go back to Hampden and put right what happened there the last time. I’m sure the players who played that day will want to do the same.”