Craig Tully says Saturday’s Ochilview match against Montrose could be East Stirlingshire’s “most important game of the season.”
It’s not difficult to see why the Shire boss is attaching such value on the outcome of the game against the team now almost certain to become the first ever ‘club 42’ and contest the controversial pyramid play-off.
While the other clubs vying for the one remaining place in the end-of-season promotion play-offs will take points from each other, Shire have been given the equivalent of a free hit with a three point haul giving them every chance of occupying pole position with three games left.
“We have got ourselves into a decent position,” said Tully. “Now it’s up to the players to go and finish the season on a high. It could go one of two ways; either we beat the team bottom of the league and give ourselves the chance of moving into fourth or we simply fail to take advantage.
“It’s up to the players now. They have taken us so far and we are at the point where we now find out if they are going to move on to the next level. That’s why this game is maybe our most important of the season,” said Tully.
The Shire coach is not taking anything for granted and certainly doesn’t feel his comments are a sign of disrespect to this weekend’s opponents. He has prefaced all of his comments to his players this week on the need not to disregard the challenge they will face from Montrose.
“They have had a couple of good results lately and got a decent draw against Queen’s Park last Saturday. I don’t think we are at the level where we think all we need to do to beat teams is simply turn up. If anyone at our club does think like that then I won’t waste any time in telling them they’re wrong.
Tully was disappointed with both the result and the performance of his players in last week’s 0-0 draw at Elgin City. He recognised the draw as two points dropped in the dog-eat-dog battle for the final play-off position.
However, he accepts that a trip to Elgin presents particular problems and feels sure that a return to Ochilview this weekend will alleviate some of those issues.
Tully is unlikely to change things too much from the Elgin game although he will be able to welcome back on-loan Celtic midfielder Luke Donnelly. He was also boosted this week by the news that top scorer David McKenna has signed a one year contract extension.
“We are glad he is coming back for another year,” said the Shire boss.