Big East clash for Shire is not decider says boss

John Sludden. Pic by Alan Murray.
John Sludden. Pic by Alan Murray.

It’s far too early in the season to talk about East Stirlingshire’s trip to Lowland League leaders East Kilbride on Saturday as a showdown.

That’s according to Shire boss John Sludden who believes the eventual destiny of the league championship won’t simply come down to the results of a few matches between the top teams.

Saturday’s opponents have already been installed as favourites to lift the crown and have started in a manner that justifies the tag, reeling off five straight wins.

Likewise there are many who see Shire as being one of the main challengers and who consider this weekend’s clash pivotal to the destination of the title itself.

Sludden accepts that the job facing his players at K Park this weekend will be of a different magnitude to anything Shire have so far faced in the Lowland League. But he is equally adamant that the outcome of this one match will not be decisive in who collects the silverware.

“I certainly don’t see it as any kind of a showdown,” he said. “There will be plenty of football played between now and the end of the season.

“They are one of the favourites who have a good quality of players who have all played senior football so it will be a good hard test for us.”

And Sludden also admits that to be in a position to get the right result from Saturday’s clash his team will have to show improvement in some aspects of their play over their four league games so far. Even though Shire are unbeaten and scored an eyebrow-raising 8-3 win over Civil Service Strollers last weekend, Sludden is not going to hide his view that the team needs to show more.

“I think the most important thing is that when we go in front that we don’t lose concentration,” he said. “In some of our game we have lost goals because we have switched off.”

But although the Shire boss has been playing the role of hard task master, constantly demanding better from a team that has won three and drawn one of the four matches played so far, he has also not been slow to praise the elements of his team which are performing well.

In particular, Shire’s strike force is now starting to fire with full power. “Some goals we scored on Saturday were unbelievable and it’s great we are starting to see that.”