John Coughlin admits he would have given up East Stirlingshire’s place in this weekend’s quarter-final of the Ramsdens Cup in exchange for the points their wins in the competition would have brought them had they been league games.
The Shire boss is infuriated by their ability to knock out top quality in the cup while failing to pick up any points in their opening four league matches of the new season.
That said, Coughlin is still looking forward to Sunday’s encounter with First Division Cowdenbeath at Ochilview and says beating Colin Cameron’s team is a top priority.
“It is annoying to think that we have proven ourselves capable in the Ramsdens Cup but have so far let ourselves down badly in the league,” he said. “We seem to have reserved all our good performances for this competition and while I really want to see us beat Cowdenbeath there is no doubt I personally would have preferred to have had some league points on the board.”
For all that Coughlin bemoans his team’s Jekyll and Hyde start to the campaign, at least he has the knowledge that his players are capable of turning it on and that in itself gives him encouragement.
Victory in this weekend’s match would also help restore the feelgood feeling Shire had at the start of the campaign after a great pre-season.
“We went through all our friendly matches losing just once, and that was a close-run thing against Stenhousemuir,” he said. “Then started the competitive games with a 3-1 win over Ayr and everyone was on a high after that.
“But having lost our opening four league matches a lot of that impetus has been lost. So if we were to beat Cowdenbeath on Sunday I think it would serve a great purpose by re-energising us for the league and also giving the fans the chance of a national cup semi-final to look forward to.”
This is only the third time Shire have reached the last eight of a competition that started life as the Challenge Cup. The last occasion was in 2007 when they lost 4-0 to Morton.
However, Shire have reached the semi-final once before 12 years ago when they were unlucky to lose to Livingston.
“We really do need something to give us a lift right now because that is what we need,” said the Shire boss. “Everything has been a bit flat since the game against Rangers at Ibrox and we have not played well in the two matches since.
“A lot of that might be down to the fact we have had to make a number of enforced team changes which have been outwith our control,” he said. “But things are now settling down on that front and that will improve us.”
Coughlin will do a head count at training tonight (Thursday) but he could have a full squad to choose from for Sunday’s encounter.
Cowdenbeath are opponents who have transformed t since the two teams last met in the Second Division play-off semi-final back in 2009. They are now trying to establish themselves as a First Division club and have made a brilliant start, having won each of their last three league matches.
“There is little doubt that they will be coming to Ochilview on Sunday brimming with confidence,” said Coughlin. “But they can expect a tough game from us. We have shown in the past that despite our league position, victory against us is not a given, and cannot be taken for granted by anyone.
“I am sure their players will have been well-warned about complacency and it will be a tough one for us to win. But we beat Airdrie in the last round on a day when they were top of the First Division so we know that we are capable of beating some of the best teams.”
n SHIRE fans are reminded that gate prices for Sunday will be £12 for adults and £6 for concessions. Season tickets will not be valid.