East Stirlingshire will go looking for a third successive Saturday win when they face Queen’s Park at Ochilview this weekend, a result which would cement a mid-table position which would, no doubt, surprise many.
Craig Tully’s men were the natural favourites at the start of the season to end up bottom of the league and enter the first-ever pyramid play-off. Instead, they have been more than competitive and even though they have had many problems, their heads remain above water.
The Shire coach has never had a full squad of players available at any point so far this season and his problems will only be added to for Saturday’s visit of the amateurs.
His additional problem is over former Falkirk defender Connor Greene, who sustained a nasty cut above his eye in last weekend’s Scottish Cup win over Lowland League Whitehill Welfare.
Greene continued the game Terry Butcher-style with a bandaged head but he has since had stitches inserted in the wound and must remain a doubt. One other player from last week who will be missing against the Spiders is striker Guy Tahin.
The Ivorian made an impact as a sub at Rosewell on Saturday but remains ineligible to play in league matches. Tully admits his young side will have many ups and downs over the course of the season but is hopeful things will improve with time.
“We have a lot of young lads in the team and we know that we risk being up one week and down the next,” he said. “We played really well at Albion Rovers and deserved our win but we struggled at Whitehill.
“For all that, though, I thought we looked comfortable and my only real worry was where a goal was going to come from. But a win is a win and we will take it. No league side going to Whitehill Welfare would get an easy ride do for us to go and get a result was a real achievement.”
Tully will return to training tonight (Thursday) to assess his options for Saturday’s important game against Queen’s Park. His longer term injury issues are unlikely to be resolved in time for the weekend which means in addition to the uncertainty over Greene and Tahin’s exclusion, there won’t be places for Paul McMullan, Nathan Shepherd or Chris Townsley.
And there is also a race to get Max Wright fit. He missed the Scottish Cup match with a calf strain and has been receiving treatment in an effort to get him ready in time for the game.
If necessary, Tully could call on some of the younger players from the uncer-20 squad to complete his squad but it won’t be near full-strength.