East Stirlingshire went down to a 4-2 defeat against St. Mirren in their final warm-up game before Saturday’s Ramsdens Cup kick-off against Highland League Formartine United on Saturday.
John Coughlin’s men took the lead against the Paisley side on Tuesday evening through Iain Thomson but then fell behind before a spectacular strike from Jamie Glasgow levelled things off. Shire then went behind to two late goals that gave their full-time opponents the edge, but there was plenty of encouragement for Coughlin ahead of Saturday’s trip north.
The Shire coach will, however, have to do without the services of skipper Kevin Turner who is serving the second of a two game ban.
That stems back to his red card against Rangers in the penultimate match of last season. Because his dismissal was judged violent conduct it carries a suspension that applies in all competitions, not just league games.
“It is a blow but we will just have to get on with it,” said Coughlin. “There is not a great deal we can do other than adapt and we have coped without Kevin in the past. You want to have your strongest team for such a game but sometimes in football these things don’t work out.”
Shire have had Saturday’s opponents watched and Coughlin will be in possession of the information he believes he needs to plot the downfall of last season’s Highland League runners-up.
They are managed by former Aberdeen boss Steve Paterson and have a reputation for being one of the top-spending teams in their division.
The former junior side, who only joined the Highland League in 2009, were pipped at the post for the championship by Cove Rangers after a 2-1 defeat in a winner-takes-all clash on the final day of last season.
“There is no doubt it will be a tough test,” he said. “But we would not want it any other way. We have brought together a good squad and our preparations so far have been good.
“I have in my own mind a way I would like us to play this season and we have tried it out in practice in the four games but now it’s down to business and measuring that up against very good opponents.”
Shire completed another piece of signing business by capturing former Falkirk youngster Graeme MacGregor on a one year deal.
The 19-year-old played a few games for Shire at the end of last term having been released by St. Mirren and was hoping to get a club higher up the leagues.
However, a contract with a full-time team did not materialise over the summer and he has now back with Shire hoping to impress.
“Graeme has put in a lot of work over the pre-season and has really impressed everyone,” said club secretary Tadek Kopszywa.
“We tried to help him out last season by putting him in the shop window but he joined us at a bad time when we were going through a real slump in form.
“That said, he was trying out with a number of top sides over the summer, as would befit a lad who has been captain of Scotland youth teams and can already include Falkirk, Bolton Wanderers and St. Mirren on his CV.”
The club is now hoping he can help solve a problem at right-back. With Steven Jackson having joined Brechin City in the close season and his replacement Michael Herd out injured it was developing into a headache for the coaches.
“He’s not a natural right-back but you would not know it from his performances in our pre-season friendlies. The coaching staff have done a great job in terms of improving our defence over the summer and Graeme will only add to that,” said the club secretary.
“It is a signing that the board particularly welcomes; Graeme is a good young player who lives in the local area. That is a road down which we are very keen to travel and Graeme’s signing sets down a marker.
“Hopefully, other quality youngsters from the Falkirk area will see that we can offer them the chance to progress to the first team and we can identify talent that will allow us to achieve this key objective,” he said.