Part 33 – S1 C1 P32 Match Day 12 – East Stirlingshire (H) 17th Nov 2018 15:00

Josh Donaldson, our star loanee keeper (IRL @ parent club Dundee Utd for 19/20)

Rated as our 2nd best player after Big Kev, 18 year-old Josh is currently rated as a League 2 level Keeper, with Championship potential. A downside (apparently) is consistency. I’d argue that only conceding 6 goals in 17 competitive games with 12 clean sheets is pretty damn consistent 🙂

This save so far has taught me a valuable lesson – whatever you do get a quality back 5, or at least a top class keeper and centre back for your level and you’ll do well (more so at the Lower Levels where a couple of class players can make a season). Regardless of what happens this season I will try my utmost to keep Josh & Kev at the club – 1 year older and hopefully improving through game-time.

Before our home game against East Strlingshire our Reserves lost 2-1 away at Fraserburgh res, Jordan Hopkinson with the goal.

East Strlingshire ( ) are another Lowland League team with tons of history. From 1900 until 2016 they were a league side, until they became the first club relegated from the national league system. They groundshare with Falkirk (The Falkirk Stadium) and finished 4th in 2017/18. The season preview had them finishing 7th and they are currently 10th with 12 points from 11 games, but have picked 7 of those up in the last 3 games.

The Scout report has them having a slightly weaker squad than Civil Service, but not by much, and they are another of the 4-5-1 teams, so I will be going Cautious/Balanced to see if that draws them out of position a bit, leaving us space to exploit.

Interestingly before the game I had the weekly training report come up & Chris Barras had a 9.9!!

Passing up 2.0 in a month!!! Lots of 1.2 & 1.6 rises as well, we will see this when I run the numbers for November in a couple of posts time. His Driven personality may be a big factor in this, as well as only being 17. Game time really helps!

Barras gets a start in his natural left Wing role, Guthrie & Faye keep their places after the midweek cup game – Guthrie is impressing me with his headed goals. Balfour is in for Churchill and Clappers is replaced by McVitie. Mair & Kelly come back in at Left & Right Back respectively. We know this formation works against the 4-5-1, expecting another 1-0 TBH, though getting a few goals would be lovely. Winter still hasn’t set in, its a drizzly 12C. Lets get to it.

First Half Comprehensive Highlights (yes, Comprehensive!!!)

HT Civil Service 0 East Stirlingshire 0

A very poor first half showing. The McVitie/Clappers substitution happened again (Just because McVitie isn’t a natural at BWM DM), this time when I changed to Positive from Balanced….Not happy. East Stirlingshire have hit the woodwork twice as well and should most probably be in the lead. Much to ponder on. I’m going a fair bit more attacking in the 2nd half, With Devers on for McCulloch as an Advanced Playmaker

Second Half Comprehensive Highlights (This is more like it)

FT Civil Service 2 (Barras 50, Balfour 54) East Stirlingshire 0 Att 85 (30 Away)

We started the half much stronger with a good few chances before a deep cross from Mair in the 50th minute found Faye at the back post. His header was saved, but Barras pounced and scored with his second bite of the cherry. Balfour made it 2-0 4 minutes later, Johnny-on-the-spot at the back post when a Devers free-kick was headed back across the goal by McConnell. The change in the play was amazing, Barras after his 9.9 in training looking a real handful.

To their credit East Stirlingshire kept on going but never looked like getting back into the game. Another clean sheet, another 3 points!!! One very happy Manager here. Plus another valuable lesson – sometimes you’ve just got to go at teams that are playing a defensive formation.

Still 7 points clear – The only teams we’ve not played yet are Cumbernauld in 4th and Vale of Leithen (next game) in 8th. The top 6 are certainly breaking away now. Unless our form drops off massively (Which is more than possible in FM19) we should be in-and-around the top 3, which would be an amazing season. Promotion is really difficult though. There are a few hoops.

  1. Win the Lowland league – doable
  2. Beat the winner of the Highland League in a promotion play-off (Currently Buckie Thistle) over 2 legs
  3. Beat the bottom placed League 2 team in a relegation play-off (Currently Elgin City) over 2 legs

I must also remember this is a Journeyman – At the end of the day if a better opportunity arises I will have to make a difficult decision, but for now I’m fully concentrated on getting the Strollers promoted if at all possible.

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