Shire take a break from Lowland League action this weekend when South of Scotland League Nithsdale Wanderers are the visitors to Ochilview in the first round of the SFA South of Scotland Challenge Cup.
The team reached the semi-final of last season’s competition where Shire exited after a disappointing 3-2 defeat against Cumbernauld Colts at The Falkirk Stadium. One consequence of that defeat will impact on this weekend’s encounter – Andy Rodgers’ booking in the Colts game was his second of last season’s tournament leaving him to serve a one game ban against Saturday’s visitors from Sanquhar.
Other than Andy, coach John Sludden should have a full squad to choose from but will name his starting eleven late.
He will be hoping more than anything else to get a positive reaction from the Shire players after defeat in the team’s previous competitive outing at the hands of Stirling University last Friday.
Shire enjoyed their debut in the South Region Cup last season. The team got a bye at this stage twelve months ago before making their first entry with an away match against Mid Annandale at Lockerbie.
That 3-0 victory landed Shire a third round home match with Newton Stewart and the game itself had Shire fans reaching for the record book as the team won 9-0 with Rodgers contributing five of the goals himself.
The quarter-final paired Shire with East of Scotland League Tynecastle FC and it proved a tight affair with a late Paul Sludden goal taking the team though to the last four match up with Cumbernauld Colts.
Shire’s chances were hindered by conceding a first minute goal and, in the end, Colts were deserved winners but the run had brought some great memories along the way.
This season’s draw has brought Shire together with Nithsdale Wanderers from the South of Scotland League.
The Sanquhar-based team is maybe not one we are familiar with but the clubs did meet while both were members of the Scottish Football League in the mid-1920s with the last of these games in 1927.
Since they dropped out of the SFL in the 1920s Wanderers played in local competitions but disappeared completely in the 1960s before being revived in 2001 and have played in the South of Scotland League continuously since then.
They have not enjoyed the best of starts to their current campaign but there is no doubt they will be very much looking forward to the game and they will be determined opponents keen to cause a cup upset.
Saturday’s game at Ochilview will have a 3:00pm start with admission set at £8.00 for adults and £4.00 for concessions. Season ticket holders are reminded these are NOT valid for this game.