Shire hopeful of cup repeat despite setback

John Coughlin can't bear to look as Shire go down on Saturday
John Coughlin can't bear to look as Shire go down on Saturday
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East Stirlingshire head to Dumbarton this weekend hoping to add the First Division team to their list of cup shocks.

John Coughlin’s side dumped both Ayr United and Airdrie out of the Ramsdens Cup earlier in the season and are setting their sights on The Sons who currently sit at the bottom of their league table and who have won only once this season.

The Shire boss is writing off any notion of his side being favourites for the Scottish Cup third round match and says being underdog seems to suit his players better.

“I know there will be some people who will look at Dumbarton and might think we have a wee chance of an upset,” he said. “But in every other cup game we have played this season we have been underdogs, even at Fraserburgh in the last round, and we have not done too badly from that position.”

His side is coming off the back of a 5-2 league defeat at Annan last weekend and Coughlin says that will mean changes.

“There were not many who did themselves a favour in that match and, to be honest, I don’t think anyone who is left out can have much of a case for knocking at my door to ask why.

“That said, we won’t disrupt things too much simply because we don’t have the players available to make wholesale changes. Rhys Devlin remains unlikely to return for another couple of weeks yet while Craig Donaldson’s hopes of a quick return to action have also hit a setback,” he said.

Coughlin is refusing to buy into the notion that Saturday’s opponents are in such bad form they will be there for the taking. The Sons have only two points in the league and their only win was in the Ramsdens Cup against Albion Rovers.

Last week they parted company with manager Alan Adamson and have appointed former Falkirk and Camelon defender Jack Ross in a caretaker capacity. The Shire boss says none of that should detract from the reality that Dumbarton will have quality players in their team.

“I can understand people’s thinking that we have a chance and I would not bother going there if I did not think we could win,” he said. “But despite Dumbarton’s form we cannot ignore the fact they are a First Division club with a very good squad of players.

“Bryan Prunty has scored goals for fun at a very high level and Scott Agnew is always a danger in a creative sense,” he said. “They have other experienced players throughout their team and we are not favourites.

“Dumbarton will be looking on this game as the chance they need to kick start their season. They won’t be feeling sorry for themselves. They will see the game as the opportunity to get a confidence-boosting win.”

Shire could look on the game in much the same way and Coughlin is at a loss to explain his team’s maddening inconsistency.

“Earlier in the season we won three games in a row and then came unstuck at Montrose. The players made up for that with a great win over Peterhead but the same eleven guys, just seven days later, turned in an absolute shocker at Annan.

“When we are good we are really good but when we are bad we are frightening and it is that inconsistency which is really troubling. I know that with part-time teams getting a level is difficult, but when you see what this bunch of players have the ability to achieve you sometimes despair.”

The Shire boss is going to Dumbarton very much with creating another upset in mind. He says everyone enjoyed the early season run to the quarter-final of the Ramsdens Cup and would be delighted with a repeat.

“I think we have a real chance of winning the tie if everything goes our way, but I am not going to talk up our chances before a ball has even been kicked.

“The players know it is important. They are one game away from a potential match against SPL opposition and we got a great boost at the start of the season from our cup wins. That is something we would obviously like to repeat.”