Players told to earn more plaudits

03/03/12. John Devlin. STENHOUSEMUIR. Ochilview. Shire v Peterhead. 5th goal cele. Andrew Stirling header.
03/03/12. John Devlin. STENHOUSEMUIR. Ochilview. Shire v Peterhead. 5th goal cele. Andrew Stirling header.

There will be no resting on laurels allowed for East Stirlingshire’s headline grabbing players this week.

A cursory ‘well done’ was their reward for beating Peterhead 6-3 at the weekend but now it is back to hard work as they prepare to face league leaders Alloa Athletic at The Recs on Saturday.

Coach John Coughlin is experienced enough to know that there is a danger in letting players believe their own publicity and says the rave notices posted after their latest Ochilview triumph are now firmly in the past.

“There is no point in looking back and lighting up a cigar,” he said. “Yes, they did well against Peterhead and it was a brilliant day for all of us. But it will mean nothing if we do not continue to show the improvements of the last few weeks.

“Alloa will be the toughest of nuts to crack, although we drew there the last time we played at The Recs and we put in one of our better performances of the season that day.

“We went away disappointed at only getting a draw so we know we can match them and we want to go one better this time,” said the Shire boss.

Amid the excitement which followed Shire’s highest-scoring afternoon in more than 40 years Coughlin was certainly aware of the challenges facing his team against the Third Division’s current leaders.

Scott Maxwell’s red card in the Peterhead match means he will be suspended for the short trip over the River Forth. And although Steven Jackson will once again be available after serving his one-match ban Coughlin will have some decisions to make over team selection.

“Jackson’s return will strengthen the defence but we need to find someone as effective as Scott Maxwell to fill the wide left berth,” he said. “Scott has been one of our best performers in our recent good run of results and there is no doubt that not having him in the team will be a big blow to us.”

Maxwell received two innocuous bookings in the Peterhead game, the one which led to his dismissal was playing on after the referee had blown his whistle to stop the game.

Coughlin says his man will have no option but to take his punishment, but the Shire coach felt that some of the Peterhead tacking went unpunished while the referee took action for the slightest infringement by his players.

“There were two particularly bad challenges, one on Kevin Turner in the first half and then a potential leg-breaker on Jordyn Sheerin in the second, but the ref was not prepared to dish out cards for them. That is what makes the red card for Maxwell so hard to take,” he said.

The Shire boss has watched his team take eleven points from their last seven games and move almost within touching distance of Montrose and Clyde. But he still feels his team is lacking in a few key areas. And he says if it were possible he would freshen things up with more new faces.

“We still need some defensive solidity and I have been trying for months to bring in an experienced centre-half but to no avail. However, if a deal could be done then I would still be receptive.

“Money is tight but we have lost a couple of players off the wage bill recently and I am hoping we might be able to utilise some of that to get someone in who would help us cut out the defensive mistakes we are making.”

His back line did not escape criticism even after Saturday’s win and Coughlin knows where his weaknesses lie.

“We were 5-1 up at half-time and we should have made it 6-1 shortly after the break,” he said. “Instead we gave away a couple of very soft goals and almost let Peterhead back into the game. It did not matter too much in the final reckoning but we know there will be other days where unless we improve we run the risk of being caught out,” he said.