Turn your good performances into points and get the team higher up the league table.
That’s the message being delivered this week by Craig Tully to his East Stirlingshire players as they face one of their most important games of the season this weekend.
A successful trip to Elgin on Saturday could see Shire open up an eight point gap on the team at the bottom of the League Two table and give Tully’s men the impetus they need to concentrate on the top end of the league rather than worrying about the bottom.
And the coach firmly believes it is a goal they are capable of delivering on. Saturday’s 3-2 defeat at the hands of league leaders Arbroath is still a source of intense disappointment, especially as Shire led with 15 minutes to go. But, according to Tully, it is also an indicator that his squad can compete with the best.
“There is no doubt that we should have won the game from the position we got ourselves into,” he said. “But individual mistakes were made and they were punished, as you would probably expect from the team at the top of the league. It shows, though, what we are capable of because our performance was a good one.
“The most frustrating thing is that we are not turning those performances into points. It happened on Saturday and it happened in our last game at Ochilview against East Fife when we dominated the match but only managed a draw.
“We should have won both games but instead we have come out of them with just one point. The five extra points would have made such a big difference to everything and would have taken so much pressure off us to get away from the bottom of the league.”
Tully has stuck loyally by the same group of players over the past five games, with ten of the starting 11 being a constant fixture since the 1-0 win over Clyde on November 15. But he wants even more from them in the games ahead as Shire aim to counter negative expectations of the team’s performance in the league.
“I know people have us as a stick-on for finishing bottom of the league,” he said. “But we have already done plenty to prove that we are better than that. In fact, the truth is if we had turned some of our better performances into points we would be sitting comfortably.
“The players have proven they are capable of playing good football and competing with the best teams in the league but now we need to turn that into points by cutting out the individual errors.”
that are costing us.”
Shire’s journey to Elgin City will be important in that regard. They defeated Saturday’s opponents out of hand at Ochilview earlier in the season and they will get a huge benefit from doing the same at Borough Briggs this weekend.
But they also know that Elgin City are a different, more dangerous, proposition at home than they are on the road. They also know that they have just appointed a new managerial team and might get some benefit out of that.
It is unlikely Tully will make any changes to the squad that faced Arbroath on Saturday. Max Wright is likely to be sidelined for a number of weeks with the hamstring injury he picked up at Queen’s Park recently and Nathan Shepherd’s knee injury will again prevent him being part of the squad.