Friday night lights in Annan for East Stirlingshire and Edusport

East Stirlingshire meet Edusport tonight in Annan
East Stirlingshire meet Edusport tonight in Annan

A short turnaround could work in East Stirlingshire’s favour this week as they set about extending an unbeaten Lowland League run which now stands at 13 matches.

Shire will be given a shorter period of time than usual to dwell on Sunday’s disappointing 1-1 home draw against bottom side Hawick Royal Albert as they prepare to face Edusport Academy at Galabank in Annan on Friday evening.

It’s the kind of scheduling that is normal for the English Premier League’s super clubs and the power of TV, but Shire coach John Sludden thinks having, in effect, two fewer days to prepare might be a positive.

“We just need to get back in the groove,” he said. “It is a quick change around but that might be a good thing. The guys were rested up on Monday and were all back in training on Tuesday and ready to go again.

“There shouldn’t be any issues with recovery times and everyone is feeling fine. Having less time might be a positive because we can simply get going again quickly. It may turn out to be a good thing.”

There is little hiding Sludden’s frustration at failing to win for the first time in 2018, especially against a team trapped at the foot of the league who had only avoided defeat in two of their 19 games before last Sunday. But he is not the only football manager this week to appreciate that games do not always go to form and that is part of the game which he, and everyone at the club, just has to accept.

“You can’t fault the players,” he said. “We had plenty of attempts at goal, we hit the woodwork and their keeper pulled off some great saves. On another day we might have had five or six. We just didn’t have any luck at all in front of goal. I guess it was just one of those days that happen sometimes in football.”

Shire will face an entirely different kind of challenge tomorrow when they take on Edusport Academy, a club set up on the back of an ambitious project to offer promising young French football players the opportunity to develop their skills while experiencing life in a foreign country.

The team, managed by former Falkirk winger Ricky Waddell, won a place in the Lowland League by claiming last season’s South of Scotland League championship and they have made a seemless transition to the higher standard.

“It will be a different challenge for us this week,” said Sludden. “We know they are a team who like to keep the ball on the deck and pass it. They like to play football and we know they have some really talented individual players.”

Sludden’s men will again be missing Liam Allison, who is out long-term with a knee problem which will require surgery, but have no other absentees for the trip south to Annan.