The hoped for long march back up the Lowland League table resumes for East Stirlingshire on Friday when they travel to Edusport Academy, with gaffer Derek Ure claiming there is no magic formula for achieving their aim other than, “hard work”.
A week after admitting his embarrassment at Shire’s current 11th place standing in the 15 team league, Ure has nevertheless stood by his squad of players who he maintains are capable of making their position more respectable, although he also accepts they now need to prove it.
That starts on Friday, as Shire aim to end a run of three successive league defeats which has taken them to the fringes of a relegation dogfight to stay out of the East of Scotland League.
“There is no magic formula other than working as hard as we can,” Ure said. “We need to apply ourselves properly and take the effort we show on the training ground into each game day.”
Shire’s third Lowland League season has seen an attention-grabbing decline in form from the two previous campaigns following demotion from League 2. Their debut saw them finish runners-up to East Kilbride, and the following year they had slipped to fourth.
The expectation during the summer was that the club would once again be among the elite. Coach John Sludden opted to bring in a number of new faces who all, at least on paper, looked as though they would strengthen Shire’s title challenge.
However, with Christmas now approaching, and Shire well off the pace there is a recognition that the summer changes have not worked out. And the public aim of getting as high up the table as possible is perhaps also a private acceptance that a challenge for the league title is maybe for next season.
Ure, though, says a wider range of factors have been at play for the team’s struggles, uppermost among them being the relative strength of the league as a whole.
“There is no doubt the overall standard of the league has improved year-on-year,” said the Shire manager. ”
“And we have to recognise that and match it. People also still see us as a big team in the league but they now also believe we are beatable. What we need to do is change that.
“I think we are one of the biggest teams in the league but we need to become a force again and we need to be one of the teams fighting to get out of the league at the top of the table.”
Friday’s game is a starting point for that aim. Ure knows the trip to Annan will not be straightforward and they have already lost to their weekend opponents at the Falkirk Stadium.
“Edusport have decent players and they press well. They are a useful side but if we turn up and apply ourselves then I’m confident we can get the right result.”