East Stirlingshire vs Linlithgow Rose is a cup clash for the ages

East Stirlingshire played Gretna last week. Picture: Jamie Forbes
East Stirlingshire played Gretna last week. Picture: Jamie Forbes

Derek Ure remembers well the arguments that top junior sides like Linlithgow Rose would be too strong for the East Stirlingshire team he played for in the Scottish 
Football League.

Back then, those discussions were purely theoretical as the great divide between senior and junior clubs kept them apart.

But now the times are changing and the theories can be put to the test as Shire face a Rose side on Saturday who have abandoned the juniors for the East of Scotland League.

The first-ever competitive clash takes place this weekend at the Falkirk Stadium in the SFA South Region Challenge Cup, and the Shire gaffer is clearly relishing what promises to be one of the ties of the round.

“We are clearly in a different era now,” said Ure of the conjecture of years ago. “Back then people talked about the relative strengths of the teams but there was no chance of them ever meeting.

“Now there is every chance and it is a game we are very much looking forward to. Linlithgow may have swapped the juniors for the east seniors but they are still the same very well run, successful club.

“They have players we know well and we know they are of a very high standard. We’re not stupid; we know how strong they will be but we’ve got some great players too.”

The chance to settle the long-running argument will loom large in the minds of Shire supporters who had to forever put up with claims that the Prestonfield outfit would have been more worthy of a Scottish League place prior to their own demotion to the Lowland League.

But for Ure, and his assistant Andy Rodgers, the priority is rather to use the cup to inject some impetus into a season which is in danger of flagging, as Shire slipped further away from the Lowland League title race with last weekend’s 2-0 defeat at East Kilbride.

“I spoke to Andy about that and we both agreed it was a big game.” he said. “It’s the last cup until the end of the season and we want to be able to keep on competing in it. It would be great if we could get into the next round and there is no doubt that we can use the cup as an extra incentive.

“We have to be honest and say that the league is now out of our hands but getting to the next round of the cup is a situation we are still in control of and we need to take advantage.

“It should be a tight game and I don’t think there will be a lot between the teams. Both have attacking players and I’d imagine there will be chances. We have to set up to minimise their opportunities and take advantage,” said Ure. “The next round is our aim and we have to also believe it’s a competition we can win. Saturday’s game is winnable but it doesn’t come much harder than a cup-tie against Linlithgow.”

Ure will be without the services of Kris Faulds, who sustained a serious ankle injury in the closing minutes of Saturday’s 2-0 league defeat at K Park. The Shire boss doesn’t expect to have the midfielder back any time soon.

“It does look like more of a long term injury which is not ideal,” said Ure. “I thought we played well against East Kilbride, especially in the first half, but it was two lapses in concentration cost us.

“It wasn’t to be but we will look to bounce back this weekend. Linlithgow will bring a good travelling support so it would be nice to get some local backing for the team.”