East Stirlingshire boss Craig Tully this week signed himself as a player – but insists his comeback has nothing to do with his team’s defensive problems.
The 38-year-old instead says his move is to assist his stars of the future by playing alongside the teenagers in the new SPFL Development League, and he has no plans to pull on his boots for the senior side.
But Tully will still have to find a solution to the problem of how to sort out a leaky defence which has conceded a disastrous 21 goals in just five competitive games this season.
And that situation will not be made any easier with the loss of key centre-half Michael Bolochoweckyj for this weekend’s game at East Fife as he starts a two-game ban following Saturday’s red card against Berwick Rangers.
The sending-off of one of the club’s most experienced players for shoving an elbow into the face of an opponent infuriated Tully almost as much as his team’s 5-0 defeat.
It’s expected the fans’ favourite will face some form of internal discipline for his actions on top of being forced to sit out Saturday’s trip to Methil and the club’s next game against Clyde.
However, Tully remains convinced he does have the players who are capable of making an impression this season and he is now looking for a level of consistency from them.
“We showed against Elgin City what we are capable of,” he said. “And even against Berwick we were in the game until a couple of refereeing decisions went against us. Those were big moments in the game which cost us goals and made it hard for us to get back into things.
“But we know that this squad of players can compete at this level and we now need them to show they can do it on a consistent basis.”
Shire are still fuming privately over the performance of referee Mike Taylor at Shielfield. They say two calls not to penalise Berwick players for fouls played a direct part in the home team’s second and third goals.
But there is no sympathy for Bolochoweckyj whose actions were condemned by the Shire coaching staff as being another factor in the way the team collapsed towards the end of the game.
Tully’s options for a replacement are limited to teenagers Connor Greene and Jordan Tapping, but neither are without first team experience.
David Greenhill’s hamstring, which forced him to miss the Berwick game, is responding well to treatment.