Scouting for senior football survival

Craig Tully
Craig Tully

East Stirlingshire will switch emphasis as the club prepares to fight for its SPFL survival.

Having concentrated until now on getting enough points to avoid ending up in the pyramid play-off, Shire will look to garner as much information as they can on their prospective opponents in the two match, home-and-away encounter against either the winners of the Highland League or the Lowland League.

Last weekend’s 3-0 defeat against Queen’s Park, their sixth in seven matches, confirmed Shire as the bottom team in this season’s League 2 and assured they would end-up in the play-off, with the away game on May 7 and the Ochilview clash on Saturday, May 14.

Between now and then, coach Craig Tully and his staff will try to find out what kind of task they are likely to face. The options for potential opponents are narrowing; it’s almost certain Edinburgh City will win the Lowland League, while Cove Rangers are one win away from capturing the Highland League crown.

“We will try to have them all watched as often as we can,” said Tully. “It’s vitally important we know as much about who we are likely to face as possible given what’s at stake.

“It’s not a situation that we wanted to be in, but things haven’t gone well for us over the past few weeks. There have been reasons for that but we don’t want to get into the business of looking for excuses. Our focus now must be on winning the play-off.”

Before that, though, Shire have three remaining league matches to try and get some form together, starting with this weekend’s trip to promotion-chasing Annan Athletic.

Tully’s men have claimed just one point in their last seven games, the real reason why they find themselves ten points adrift at the bottom of the league table, and time is running out if they are to boost morale ahead of two matches which will decide whether they will remain among Scottish football’s elite.

“We know what we have to face and the hope is that will concentrate minds and give us a bit of focus. No-one wants to be in the position we are in and no-one wants to make an unwanted bit of history by dropping out of the league, and we hope, in a way, that will give its own motivation.

“I know it’s a stressful situation for all of us but we need to fight against that.”