East Stirlingshire’s slim chances of avoiding the end-of-season pyramid play-off were dealt another blow this week when key defender Ross Fisher was handed a one game ban by the SFA.
It means the former Queen’s Park and Clyde man will miss the trip to Annan Athletic next Saturday after picking up his sixth booking of the season in last weekend’s 0-0 draw with Berwick Rangers.
Fisher will be available to face Queen’s Park at Ochilview on Saturday, a match Shire must win if they are to avoid being confirmed as this season’s League Two wooden spoon club. That will be some comfort to coach Craig Tully who is still struggling with a long injury list which has deprived him of key players for a number of weeks.
It’s unlikely that either Chris Townsley or Neil McCabe will be set for a return against The Spiders and Tully has admitted that the depth of his injury concerns go beyond those two vital cogs in his machine.
“We have been short of some really important players over the past few weeks and that hasn’t really helped us,” he said. “Others have been playing through niggles when, if we hadn’t been stretched to the limit, they might have been rested.
“It’s not a good situation but we just have to try and make the best of it and try and get the results we need.”
The loss of Fisher for one of the four final league games of the season is perhaps the last thing he needed right now. Since arriving at the club in January the 22 year-old has been perhaps Shire’s most consistent performer. That has been recognised in the past couple of games when, in the absence of Richie Barnard and Townsley, Fisher has been promoted to team captain.
“He has shown good form and has been a real stand-out in the team since he came here,” said the Shire boss. “But he is also a real competitor and is a good influence in the dressing room. Ross gives you everything and you can see in recent weeks that the defeats hurt him. He wants to be a winner.”
It’s essential for Shire to win against Queen’s Park on Saturday, otherwise they will be consigned to scrapping for their place in next season’s League 2 in a two-leg play-off with either the winners of the Highland or Lowland League.