East Stirlingshire are promising to be better prepared for Saturday’s Lowland League re-match against Edinburgh University after the students dealt Shire’s title challenge a blow by claiming a 1-1 draw in their first meeting of the season a fortnight ago.
Assistant boss Martin Mooney says training this week will be geared to combat their opponents’ defensive style with the aim of getting enough goals this time round to win the game.
Shire’s failure to turn possession into any more than a 1-0 half-time lead came back to bite them at Ochilview as Edinburgh University hit an early second half equaliser and managed to cling on for a draw.
“They were a bit of an enigma when we played them the first time,” said Mooney. “But we know more about them now going into this game.
“But it will still be a tough match. They will get people behind the ball so we intend to work on it in training. We need to be a lot brighter than we were the last time because they will get people behind the ball.”
The draw in the teams’ last meeting took a considerable amount of wind out of Shire’s sails.
They had been in a terrific mood having beaten BSC Glasgow on Hogmanay which, combined with leaders East Kilbride’s defeat the previous day, had cut the gap between first and second to its narrowest for a while. For Shire then allow that advantage to widen again was a big blow. The team did respond well in beating Stirling University 2-0 in their last match when Shire faced a similar sort of challenge.
Mooney says, though, that there’s no doubt his players have what it takes to combat the defensive ploys of Lowland League sides and they need to show a bit more than they did in their last meeting with this Saturday’s opponents.
“Maybe it was just one of those games where we could have played all day and just never scored a winner,” he said. “But we have the kind of player who can overcome that.
“We have seen it in the past and maybe it’s just a matter of being patient, keep doing the right things, keep moving the ball and try and pull them out of their defensive comfort zone.”
The Shire assistant boss understands that’s just the way Edinburgh Uni go about their business. They are well-drilled in keeping things tight at the back and their ‘goals against’ record is the third best in the league.
Mooney says he has no complaint about their negative style but wants his players to be smarter in terms of how to combat it than they were the last time round.
“All credit to them,” he said of this weekend’s opponents. “They are very organised and they are good at what they do. “
And he accepts that facing a Shire team who have run up more than 90 goals in all competitions so far this season will inspire a certain amount of caution in any opponents.
“Coming up against a team that is scoring as freely as we are means that teams won’t open up when they play us.
“But every time we have had a draw or a loss we have always bounced back and that is the sign of a good team and we hopefully will learn from the mistakes we make in the previous game.”
Shire will be without skipper Derek Ure who sits the game out due to a one game ban but should otherwise be unchanged.