We’ve reached the end of my first Lowland League campaign, and thankfully managed to finish on a high. If we can keep a core of this squad together, we’ll look to continue the momentum over to 2018/19 and have a right go at promotion – for now though, what better marker to lay down than gunning for glory in the end-of-season League Cup?
My last update saw a final commitment to achieving an Irn-Bru Cup spot next season by coming in the top 4. In the end, we tied in 3rd after a fantastic run of form to finish the month of April. East Stirlingshire proved their mettle by sprinting through the finish line and grabbing the title with games to spare, going on to face surprise Highland League champions Formartine in the pyramid playoff.
At the Indodrill, the only blip of late came by virtue of a narrow South Challenge Cup exit to Hawick in the semi-final – the major positive to focus on, however, is that no fewer than three youth graduates have broken through and played well in the first team… indeed, their star turns helped their gaffer to earn some recognition!
Even with our campaign still going, big Michael Moore and I have put most of our free time into planning ahead. The tactical experiments have finally come to an end, and we’ve agreed with the whole coaching staff to focus on two different approaches; it’ll be back to basics with a 4-4-2 and 3-5-2 to switch between depending on the opponent.
As a result of some sensible forward planning, we’ve already started inking some contract extensions – Ryan Marshall, John Tennent, Danny Stoney, Jack Smith and even Martin ‘Paolo’ Grehan have re-committed to the cause. Sadly, it looks like wee Stevie Murray has decided to pack it in after suffering a nasty ankle injury.
Mr Prince has obviously appreciated our recent efforts on and off the pitch, rewarding me with a contract extension through another season. While our conversation was enthusiastic and positive, I can’t help but feel a jibe thrown my way about losing money by exiting the Scottish Cup early had some menace behind it…best not to risk lightning striking twice!
A little hope can be either great or dangerous in this game. We jump into the fun of the Lowland League Cup with the squad in fine fettle, looking forward to their summer break while not quite ready to stop just yet. This attitude is so important, as it’s essentially winner-stays-on… and we’ve made the perfect start by demolishing a Vale of Leithen side who were exhausted after a tough run of fixtures.
I’ll keep faith with the youngsters that are relishing their time in the side, mixing them with a few experienced charges and those squad players looking to earn a new deal. With the mood in the dressing room, there’s no reason why we can’t grab a trophy to round off a decent year – take one game at a time though, as the cliché says, and we face Cumbernauld Colts next weekend.