Striker Paul Sludden has been given a two-game Scottish FA suspension following his sending-off in Sunday’s Lowland League match against Spartans at Ochilview.
It means Paul will miss this weekend’s league trip to bottom side Preston Athletic and the visit to Raydale Park to face Gretna 2008 on 11th February.
He was dismissed midway through the second half of Sunday’s match after this challenge led to a straight red card.
It’s a two match ban due to the fact that it’s the player’s second red card this season. Paul was sent-off in the 4-1 Ochilview win over Cumbernauld Colts in September.
He will be eligible to return for the Ochilview game against Whitehill Welfate on 18th February but both Connor Greene and Andy Rodgers will both be missing for the visit of the Rosewell club after each picked up their sixth booking of the season in the Spartans match, triggering a one-game Scottish FA suspension.
Club secretary, Andy Williamson, was on hand to receive the latest cash boost for a local charity thanks to the club’s season-long Charity Challenge.
Former Shire player Dean McPherson, who is now area manager for main sponsors Ladbrokes, presented the cheque for £500.00 which goes to the Falkirk Children’s Rights Project.
It’s the latest in a line of charities and good causes to benefit from the Charity Challenge.
At Sunday’s Lowland League match against Spartans at Ochilview, another former Shire star, David King, assisted by club guests Alex Rae and Murdo MacLeod, as well as players from our East Stirlingshire Galaxy community teams, took part in another half-time skills challenge.
This one is due to benefit the Hollie Taylor Fund, which is raising cash to help with the treatment of a local girl with a rare form of cancer. The caused was nominated by Shire striker, Andy Rodgers, who has already undertaken his own fundraising for Hollie, and Supporters Club secretary, Trudy Wilson.
Young Shire fan Jay Daly was given a special present before Sunday’s Lowland League game against Spartans at Ochilview.
Defender Connor Greene handed over the ball that he headed into the net in the recent game against Edinburgh University for the goal which set a new Lowland League scoring record.
The strike was Shire’s 75th league goal of the season, which eclipsed the previous season high set by both Edinburgh City and Spartans.
After the game the club decided to auction off the ball and a blind auction was organised with the proceeds going to charity.
Jay’s mum, Tracey, submitted the highest of a number of different bids and Jay now has the ball, which Connor signed.
The cash bid by Tracey to claim the prize will be heading to the charity, SADS UK, which is involved in research into cardiac arrest among young and middle aged people and was nominated by Connor himself.
Coach John Sludden admitted the performance in Shire’s 4-1 Lowland League defeat against Spartans at Ochilview on Sunday was not good enough for a team with ambitions to clinch the league title.
A promising start, and an early lead from Jamie Glasgow’s 13th minute goal, was undone by what the coach described as “possibly our poorest defensive display of the season” as Spartans overcame the setback to lead 2-1 at the interval.
What upset John more than anything else was the fact that his team had been warned in the run-up to the game about the danger Spartans posed in exactly the situations that led to both first half goals.
“We spoke about it during the week,” he said. “The players were warned the Spartans liked to try things from quick free-kicks, that they had good delivery from wide areas and that their height from set-plays was a danger. And that’s how they got their goals, so from that point of view it was very disappointing.”
The loss of a goal on the stroke of half-time to give the visitors an interval lead was, according to the coach, a setback.
“Obviously it gave them a real lift,” he said. “We spoke to them about the need to get back into the game and we needed to create chances but instead we got sloppy, gave away a soft corner kick and they scored a third goal. It was a great delivery and header, to be fair, but from our point of view it could all have been avoided.”
Shire’s defensive line has recently been one of the real success stories but the coach was disappointed at the way the goals were lost. His view was very much that the defence simply had not performed.
“In our biggest game of the season so far it was probably the poorest we have played in terms of when we had the ball and defensively. Over the past couple of weeks we have been really solid but defensively, as a unit, we were really, really poor.”
Only a few minutes later Shire were reduced to ten men when Paul Sludden was sent-off. It was a decision which left the coach mystified.
“I didn’t think it was a challenge that warranted a booking never mind a red,” he said. “But it didn’t help us and towards the end they showed great experience in seeing the game out.”
With three defeats in three matches against the other two teams in the Lowland League, the coach concedes that Shire have faced, in East Kilbride and Spartans, two better teams.
“It shows we still have lots of work to do,” said John. “We have lots more hard work to do yet to reach their level. It’s something we want to strive to do, to beat Spartans and East Kilbride but that’s not happened.
“We would all like everything to happen overnight but that’s not how it works and we still have a lot of hard work to do and we will look at it and analyse it and see what we need to do to reach their level.”
Shire aim to make it twelve games without defeat when the team takes on Spartans at Ochilview on Sunday in their latest Lowland League match.
The encounter promises to be their toughest for a while – Spartans are in great form themselves and have won their last nine games in a row.
It’s the meeting of second against third in the league table and will be seen as pivotal for both as they aim to close the gap on leaders East Kilbride.
The referee is Calum Haswell, Shire will wear their traditional black and white hoops and kick-off is 3:00pm.
John Sludden’s team extended their unbeaten run to eleven matches with last week’s 1-0 away victory at Edinburgh University, which was the team’s twelfth Lowland League match without defeat and Shire’s fifth straight away win.
Coach Sludden will add two players to his squad for the Spartans match with club captain Derek Ure returning after missing last week’s game due to a one match suspension, and Michael Oliver returning to the club after agreeing a fresh loan deal from Clyde.
Spartans are on a hot run of form too – they have won their last nine games which includes two victories over leaders East Kilbride the last of which, in the East Qualifying Cup semi-final, came last weekend.
The visitors will not lack confidence or knowledge about their opponents – no fewer than six Spartans players have previously been Shire players and all will be motivated to do well against their former club.
There is one former Spartans player in the Shire ranks, Paul Sludden, who will be looking to add to his tally of 13 goals this season so far against his former club.
The Shire coach is well-aware that the game is being billed as the Lowland League’s top fixture this weekend and some are attaching importance to the outcome in terms of both teams’ chances of catching East Kilbride.
But John says, while it’s a key game, people should avoid reading too much into just one result in what is a long season.
You can listen to his full pre-game thoughts by clicking on the link below :
Shire midfielder Kris Faulds has been part of the long unbeaten run and wants to continue that with a victory in Sunday’s match. He says the narrow 1-0 defeat in the return fixture at Ainslie Park is certain to act as a motivating factor for the Shire team.
To listen to Kris’s pre-game comments click on the link below :
The loan signing of Clyde defender Michael Oliver has been approved and the player will be added to the Shire squad for Sunday’s Lowland League match against Spartans at Ochilview.
Michael is returning to the club after a loan spell earlier in the season and is due to stay at Shire until the end of the season.
He had originally been due to stay until the closure of the January transfer window but the original loan deal was ended three weeks early so that Michael could return to SPFL League 2 action with the Bully Wee.
However, Clyde manager Barry Ferguson has subsequently given his approval for Michael to come back for a second loan spell.
“I am delighted to have Michael back,” said Shire coach John Sludden. “He played well in the games in which he appeared for us earlier in the season and he was also a good presence in the dressing room.”
Football pundit, Murdo MacLeod, will be Shire’s special guest at Sunday’s Lowland League game against Spartans at Ochilview.
The former Celtic, Borussia Dortmund and Scotland star will be at the gamer along with Alex Rae helping our forty young East Stirlingshire Galaxy community team players enjoy their special family hospitality day.
Both Murdo and Alex will have the four SPFL divisional championship trophies with them so our young Shire stars can get just the right photo or selfie with the cups and two of Scottish football’s better-known names.
Since retiring from playing Murdo has had a very successful media career on BBC Radio Scotland as a newspaper columnist.
Alex was until recently manager at St. Mirren and before that he was in charge at Dundee. He also had a very successful playing career, mainly in England, and played in the English Premier League with Sunderland.
Shire are delighted to be able to welcome Murdo and Alex to this weekend’s Ochilview game where we have a number of different events planned.
The East Stirlingshire Galaxy players will be sure to have a day to remember which will start with lunch before the game. They will then accompany the teams out onto the pitch as mascots and be presented with replica Shire jerseys.
After the game they’ll have a chance to meet the Shire first team squad.
Four of the lads will also be taking part in the half-time Shire Charity Challenge along with former player David King. They’ll be participating in a football skills challenge with the aim of raising as much money as possible for our nominated good cause.
Coach John Sludden says he will not allow his players to become distracted from the main focus of Sunday’s Lowland League encounter against Spartans at Ochilview – three points.
He is happy for others to look at the bigger picture of what a win would mean for the club. But he wants the team to concentrate on treating it simply as a match they want to win, in the same way they have before each of the eleven previous games which have yielded nine wins and two draws in an unbeaten run stretching back to October.
The hype around the clash of second versus third and what the result might mean for each team’s respective chances of catching league leaders East Kilbride are things the coach wants to stop grabbing the attention of the players.
“We will keep all of that off the players,” he said. “Our focus is simply on three points and just trying to continue the form that we have been on. But we will try to keep those other things away from the players.”
Any attempt to play up this one game as any more important than the others is similarly rebuffed by the Shire coach who is also rejecting the idea of seeing it as a ‘must-win’ fixture.
“Every game is important,” said John. “From that aspect nothing will change. Spartans have a lot of good, experienced players and they have proved that over their years in the Lowland League. They also have a number of players who have been at a higher level, so it shows what a good team they are.”
Spartans were the last team to beat Shire in the league at Ainslie Park back in September. The Shire coach is keen to avoid turning it into a ‘grudge match’ or a ‘revenge mission’ but he says the controversial manner of the 1-0 defeat still hurts.
“It was a hard one to take,” he said of the defeat to an injury-time penalty kick. “I didn’t think there was anything between the teams and it looked like a draw was going to be a fair result. We had a half-chance with Granty just before the penalty kick incident. But we will go again with a lot of confidence and belief that we can get the three points.”
One big bonus for the coach will be the return of club captain Derek Ure. He was forced to sit out last weekend’s 1-0 win over Edinburgh University through suspension but, with his one match ban duly served, he will be back and hoping to feature in Sunday’s match.
“He is such a big influence on the park for us,” said the coach. “On and off the ball he is a big player for us and it’s great he’s available for selection again.”
The coach and the players have been very grateful for the support given to them by the fans this season and especially over the last few weeks. They are once again asking that you come along to Sunday’s game and be the extra help they need.
An eleven game unbeaten run is one thing, but Kris Faulds is well aware that Shire’s title ambitions will depend just as much on winning an encounter like Sunday’s Lowland League clash with Spartans at Ochilview.
While Shire have been harvesting points against all-comers since the end of September it hasn’t brought the league leaders very much closer, and the midfielder knows not only would a win help that process, it would also be a set back for third-place Spartans who have identical ambitions.
The stated aim of winning the Lowland League has been hampered by 1-0 defeats against East Kilbride an Spartans earlier in the season. That Spartans reverse in September was the last time John Sludden’s men lost in the league and Kris and his team mates are determined to make up for it.
“It’s a big game but if we get the win then that sets us up nicely,” said Kris. “We came into this league knowing that we would be competing for the title so it’s one of those games we know we need to win if we want to be at the top.”
The September defeat at Ainslie Park still hurts for Shire and Kris says it’s one the team wants to avenge. The midfielder says that game, and the equally narrow loss at the current league leaders were setbacks, but he remains confident the players can get it right this time round.
“We performed in them but we didn’t get the result we wanted,” he said of the two previous games against the other two clubs in the Lowland League top three. “Hopefully this time the boys will go and get the result we require.
“There was nothing in the game the last time,” said the Shire midfielder of the Ainslie Park game which Shire lost to an injury-time penalty kick. “If anything we had the better opportunities. It was the same in the game against East Kilbride where we had chances but they just didn’t fall. This time we aim to make that right.”
Kris recognises it’s likely to be a different sort of challenge to the one Shire have faced in the last few weeks.
Where once the strikers were scoring goals for fun against teams who attacked just as much themselves, the last three league encounters have seen Shire work hard to break down solid and very tight defences.
Kris says this week’s match, one both teams will look to win rather than simply sit in, should be altogether different.
“I would imagine they will come and attack us rather than sit in like Edinburgh (University),” he said. “It’s as big as game for them as it is for us so they will be up for it.”
Kris and the rest of the Shire team will need some great support on Sunday at Ochilview to help them overcome a very strong Spartans team. We need as many fans as possible to be there to lend a hand. Please come along and play your part because it could make all the difference.
Clyde defender Michael Oliver has returned to the club until the end of season on loan, just weeks after his first loan spell was cut short by Bully Wee manager Barry Ferguson.
The temporary transfer means the central defender will stay with Shire until the end of the season.
The player’s original loan deal was due to run out at the end of the current transfer window but he returned to Clyde a number of weeks early and found himself back in their SPFL League 2 side after Ferguson had been impressed by his Lowland League displays.
However Clyde have now come to an agreement with Shire which will allow Michael to resume his loan spell and, as long as the paperwork is registered in time, he should be available for Sunday’s match against Spartans at Ochilview.
“We are delighted to have Michael back,” said Shire coach John Sludden. “He was a really positive addition to the team when he was with us first time round and he’s a good presence in the dressing room as well.”