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Faramir

Scottish Reprise- Return to East Stirling

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Scottish Reprise- Return to East Stirling

I played East Stirling for many seasons when I took on the Sir Alex Ferguson challenge. I had toyed with the idea of coming back to them, but this is the first time that I have since that story (Wind on the Canal). As BobBev said in one of his- time to start a new one (finally icon_smile.gif ) This is my first FM2006 story as well.- MD

***

Troubled East Stirling Names Lolich to Lead

In a surprise announcement, East Stirling has chosen unknown 30 year old Mick Lolich to become their new Manager. Lolich, who had been out of football for two seasons after a moderately successful career in the English Conference North, wasn't even mentioned among possible candidates to manage 'The Shire' when discussed with the press two weeks ago. Lolich's terse comments indicated that he is dedicated to improving the club and hopes to instill a disciplined system of play.

9.7.05

Well, I am here. I didn't expect to be here, but it certainly was a great opportunity for someone newly badged, but with no managerial experience (and besides it was the only offer I had). The Board confided in me that their expectations are fairly low. They would just like to see me build up the club this season. With them able to offer no transfer funds and a pretty miniscule weekly wage budget- I guess that isn't too surprising. Still, if we can suprise people and make them take us seriously- that would be a worthy accomplishment for the season. I will have to get some additional staff on board and will have to scour the free transfer list for some immediately available talent- this club is woeful in many ways- but though daunting, I am keenly looking forward to the task.

9.7.05

It was a little daunting to have a friendly on my first day here, but we played acceptably in losing to Dumbarton 1-0. The squad here may lack talent, but they showed a bit of heart today and that is always a great thing to see from any side.

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11.7.05

We signed our first three free transfers today and I am excited about adding them. 24 year old SC James Flood, 27 year old AM/FRC Dave McEwen and 22 year old DM Andy Ross were all pleased to join us with the promise of playing time.

***

14.7.05

Many additions were finalized today. Signed off the free transfer list were 24 year old D/DMRLC Carl Laurie, 22 year old MC Ross O'Donoghue, 24 year old DC Paul Moss and 18 year old DC Chris Robertson. All were excellent additions and should be in our starting lineup when the season begins. Also joining us today were 20 year old ML Kevin Howe (free transfer purchase from Livingston) and 20 year old WB/AMRL Stuart McGrady (free transfer from Queen of the South).

Staff wise we have added scouts Bob Pearson and Steve Ingham to work with Billy Gibson. Supporting Assistant Manager Gordon Wylde will be Coaches Brian Parkin and Gary Himsworth.

***

16.7.05

We lost to Boston United 3-2 in a wild friendly at Firs Park. I was happy to see us score, but defense was a bit lost and keeper Aaron Gillespie was a bit disappointing. I likely will make finding another keeper a priority as 39 year old Derek Jackson isn't suited for extensive play.

***

19.7.05

I was able to obtain another keeper today and it was one I really like (especially since it was a free transfer from Brechin that brought him). 21 year old Steven van der Deyl has a lot of promise and was happy to come here (something that wasn't true of two other keepers I had discussed contracts with). He will likely start over Gillespie.

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Good to see my old favourite Ross O'Donoghue making a re-appearance icon_smile.gif

Needless to say I'll follow your progress since its a Scottish story (and one I've actually managed to catch the beginning of!)

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Thanks glamdring (my fellow lotr afficianado)- sorry, I meant to welcome you back- glad to have you back among us icon_smile.gif

***

21.7.05

Another friendly loss as we fell to Airdrie 3-1. They handily beat us in this match and we looked a bit lost at times. We are still trying to gel all the new players and work into the 442 system I want us to play.

***

25.7.05

Northern Irish side Institute defeated us 2-0 in a match where we played better, but had little to show for doing so. Still, it was encouraging to see at least some improvement in the match. This was our last friendly and we still don't look all that ready to start the season.

***

27.7.05

We signed two more off free transfer. 24 year old MC Mark Batty has a lot of qualities that should help us in the midfield and he will likely move directly into a starting role. 23 year old SC Steve McDonald had just been released by Accrington and my scouts were all over me with suggestions to sign him. McDonald adds a left footed forward- something we didn't have- and he certainly appears to have some talent, so should be a worthy addition up front.

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29.7.05

Our starting lineup against Dumbarton in our trip to face them in the 1st round of the Challenge Cup will be:

GK- Steven van der Deyl

DR- Mark Tyrrel

DL- Carl Laurie

DC- Paul Moss

DC- Paul Gaughan

MR- Dave McEwen

ML- Kevin Howe

MC- Ross O'Donoghue

MC- Mark Batty

SC- James Flood

SC- Derek Ure

***

30.7.05

Dumbarton (1) East Stirlingshire (1) Challenge Cup-1st Round- Dumbarton advances on penalties

We gave it a good effort and outplayed Dumbarton for stretches of the match. James Flood scored in the first half to give us the lead off a nice pass from MOM Mark Batty. We gave away the lead when Paul Moss headed past Steven van der Deyl midway through the second half to even things at 1-1. It stayed there all the way through extra-time, despite the home side losing Mark Dempsie to his 2nd yellow card at 83 minutes. We failed miserably in the penalty shoot=out and they escaped with a close win.

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Going back can be a lottery, especially to a club where you've had enjoyment in the past. Good luck though, bright and breezy start as usual although where you find the time to write all this! You must live in a 48 hour a day reality icon_wink.gif

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man would 48-hour days be good. Still, folks would just expect more icon_frown.gif

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Urgh! 48 hour day! Scaling linearly that would mean a 15 hour working day for me icon_eek.gif

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Thanks PM icon_smile.gif You're very right about it being a lottery to play a club you have fond memories for- but in this case my time with East Stirling was 4 versions of CM/FM ago- so I didn't mind another try, even if it didn't work out quite as well as the first one. No 48 hour reality here- just that I have played some stories further ahead of posting and then play others in the meantime icon_smile.gif

***

1.8.05

Totalbet Odds- Scottish 3rd Division

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

Berwick 4-5

Arbroath 4-5

Cowdenbeath 1-1

Queens Park 6-4

Montrose 8-1

East Stirlingshire 50-1

</pre>

***

6.8.05

East Stirling (1) Montrose (0)

Our fans (and Board too) were overjoyed when we stunned favored Montrose to win our home opener 1-0. The lone goal in the match came in first half injury time when leftback Mark Gourlay sent a cross into the six-yard box and James Flood flicked it past Andrew Reid into the upper right corner of the net. They pressed us hard in the second half, but Steven van der Deyl earned his clean sheet with fine work in the net as we hung on for a pleasing victory.

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9.8.05

East Stirling (2) Ross County (4) League Cup 1st Round

It was a stunner to both our fans and myself when we grabbed a 2-0 lead on heavily favored Division 1 side Ross County at the midway point of the first half. 38 year old Ally Graham started us out when he took a fine pass from Andy Brand and slipped his shot past Stuart Garden. We moved ahead 2-0 when Derek Ure finished off a fine tic-tac-toe passing sequence by driving the ball past Garden. Our bubble burst quickly though as Ross County exploited our backline in fighting back to even the match at 2-2 on goals from John Rankin and Sean Higgins. Higgins goal was impressive as he knifed his past two defenders on the dribble before scoring. Higgins again escaped our efforts to mark him and flicked a header past Aaron Gillespie to allow them to lead 3-2 into the dressing room. We tried to rally, but they had too much quality for us and Maciej Nuckowski flicked another header past Gillespie to cement their comeback win at Firs Park. To be honest, this was a Tuesday match after our stirring win over Montrose and I was forced to play our 2nd line players in this match, and this clearly effected us as they fought back.

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13.8.05

East Fife (3) East Stirling (0)

East Fife blew a close match open with a pair of late goals. Mostly I attribute those to our club being tired, since we had played most of the second half with only 10 men after Carl Laurie had earned his 2nd yellow card in the opening moments. It was a bit frustrating as we drew a yellow card on most every contested tackle and that left us sporing 4 of them in the first 20 minutes of the match. East Fife also received several, but then the referee seemingly put his whistle away and they had no further ones called despite some very dicey tackling. Still, I can't put this loss to the ref- this one was because we didn't play a full, focused match. Alex Burns, their new signing, made a successful debut when he danced away from Chris Roberton to beat Steven van der Deyl inside the right post. We were a bit unlucky to not go to half even as we generated some nice scoring chances, but James Flood and David McEwen both missed inches wide. They finished us off late in the second half when John Martin scored a brace of goals within 4 minutes. The first came when Paul O'Brien and Robertson stood around looking at each other as Martin slipped past and deflected a cross in. The second goal was just a fluke as he sent a looping ball toward the net and van der Deyl never saw it is it dropped past him into the net. It is clear that having Paul Moss and Paul Gaughan out is hurting us badly- as John Walker and Robertson really have not done the job in the middle. We also now have lost McEwen for awhile as he strained a groin in the match.

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Bewdy, another bottler from that Faramir fella. icon_biggrin.gif

I never miss the start of your stories because I always know that they will turn into epics and I will be right up to date from the start instead of having pages of reading to catch up on.

* Australian for "Excellent, another fine tale by that quality writer Faramir". icon_smile.gif

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Thanks spav icon_smile.gif I don't know about them being epics, but mine seem to be pretty lengthy (if nothing else)

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17.8.05

We welcomed another new addition as jitterbug Kenny McLean came on free transfer from Morton. McLean, a wee bit of winger, has more pace than anyone on our club and impressive skills for 20 year old. McLean will move into the starting role on rightwing (due to Dave McEwen's injury).

***

20.8.05

East Stirling (7) Berwick (1)

Berwick came into the match at Firs Park as heavy favorites- after all they had been relegated last season and had spent the summer gearing up for an immediate return upwards. Our fans were a bit gloomy when they scored in the 5th minute as Gareth Hutchinson drove a shot past Steven van der Deyl- another inexcusable lapse by our central defense- but I quickly saw encouraging signs. We were moving the ball pretty well and Kenny McLean was really pressuring them with his pace on the right. Suddenly, the match turned around and Steve McDonald was able to slot the ball past Stephen Mason after an excellent pass from Ross O'Donoghue for his 1st goal for us. Less than two minutes later we struck for the lead when James Flood finished off an impressive counterattack by taking the ball around Mason. That was the start of a big day for Flood as he added his 2nd goal of the match in the opening moments of the second half. Berwick seemed to completely collapse and Flood finished off his hat-trick and 5th goal of the season with an 'excuse me' goal when his centering pass deflected slightly off defender Jay Shields past Mason. McDonald then added his 2nd goal of the match on a good pass from McLean. Flood scored his 4th goal of the match on a fantastic run from just inside midfield and then Iain Diack (on for McDonald) scored his 1st goal of the season to finish off a very impressive 7-1 rout. The loan sour note was the loss of O'Donoghue for at least 2 weeks, but more likely a month due to a leg injury.

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22.8.05

Feeling that club physio David Jenkins was getting a bit overwhelmed with all the injuries we have seen of late, I signed two more physios to assist him. Both 50 year old Rob Harris and 44 year old Alan Jackson assented when I explained to them that they would be working under Jenkins. Hopefully this will allow us to manage our injury situation a bit better.

***

22.8.05

Our amazing win over Berwick was the reason we had 5 Players selected on the Team of the Week. Johnny Walker, Paul O'Brien, Kevin Howe, Kenny McLean and James Flood were selected for the honour, which pleased our local fans immensely.

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27.8.05

Cowdenbeath (3) East Stirling (2)

Our inconsistency is frustrating, but it can be clearly traced back to our backline. We could have won this match if our backline plays anything close to how they did against Berwick, but instead we dominated the match and lost due to three seperate bad plays. James Flood gave us the early lead with another terrific goal as he danced past two would-be tacklers before driving a shot past Alex Hards. Cowdenbeath was able to go to halftime even though as a long header found both Chris Robertson and Johnny Walker knapping and Dene Shields had an easy time beating Steven van der Deyl in the one-on-one situation. They took the lead early in the second half as Walker lost the marking on a corner and Liam Buchanan was able to flick a header past van der Deyl. We evened the match again when Kevin Howe, who earned MOM honours, swooped down the left side and crossed smartly to Steve McDonald and he deflected it past Hards. They quickly answered when Robert Downs escaped Robertson and deflected a cross past van der Deyl for the match winner. We couldn't answer that goal and it was a disappointing trip back home with a loss that could have been more.

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28.8.05

As the transfer deadline approaches, I am pursuing a few additions and two were completed today as we landed 20 year old DRC Danny Black and 22 year old AMC Phil Creaney from the Albion Rovers on free transfer. Bob Pearson liked Black a lot and we had reports that he was being considered for the New Zealand Under-21 side, so it seemed a good addition considering our problems in center defense. Creaney will help our depth in the midfield and brings a solid physical presence- if not a lot of overall skills- to our side. I have also brought promising center back Graham McWilliam back from the Reserve side. With Paul Gaughan regaining playing fitness and Paul Moss not far behind, I don't think Johnny Walker will see much playing time. I still have hopes for Chris Robertson, but he needs to play more consistently and hopefully that is something the 19 year old will learn in time.

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1.9.05

It was very pleasing to see James Flood earn Player of the Month honours for August and also have Kevin Howe earn Young Player of the Month honours for his efforts. They look like two cornerstones that we can build around. I am pleased with how our wingers- Howe and Kenny McLean- play together and generate excitement.

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10.9.05

East Stirling (1) Albion Rovers (0)

It was a tight match as we missed numerous good scoring chances, but we were able to convert on one and that was enough to carry us through to a 1-0 win over Albion Rovers at Firs Park. James Flood uncharacteristically missed two superb chances, both times inches wide of the net. Steve McDonald had a great chance, but dawdled and let Carlos Brown make a saving tackle when it looked like he could score easily. We limited their chances as Paul Gaughan and Graham McWilliam played effectively- blunting their attempts to send long passes in the air to the area. The winning goal came when Kenny McLean skinned Scott Friel and then drove hard to the backline before crossing to the middle. McLean's cross picked out Ally Graham who found open space and deflected the cross past Nick Baxter. We managed to keep them from rallying by controlling the pace of play for the rest of the match and it was with relief that we heard the final whistle.

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17.9.05

Stenhousemuir (3) East Stirling (0)

The score looks worse than it should, as we well could have won this match. Instead Stenhousemuir Keeper Chris Fahey rightfully earned MOM honours as he took away our heart with his fine play. We could have grabbed the lead twice in the early going, but the first time Fahey made a point-blank save on Steve McDonald and then followed with a parry of James Flood's shot on the rebound. The second time saw Fahey make a dazzling save on McDonald after a deft pass from Mick O'Brien put him in free. Only minutes later we found ourselves down as Paul Gaughan was called for pushing Colin Cramb on a free kick and Graeme Smith converted the penalty kick past Steven van der Deyl. We kept the pressure up in the second half, but Flood missed inches wide and Kenny McLean drilled one off the crossbar. They put the match away when Frankie Carroll slipped Paul Moss' marking and rammed home a close-in shot. They added insult when Joe Savage deflected a corner in as we continue to struggle with dead ball situations to finish off their 3-0 win.

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21.9.05

Queens Park (0) East Stirling (1)

We made an early goal stand up with a superior defensive effort as we handed previously unbeaten Queens Park their first loss of the season. The lone goal in the match came early on when Ross O'Donoghue- making his return from injury- picked up a loose ball and slipped past Lee Poznanski before drilling a shot into the left side of the net past Nathan Freeman. O'Donoghue came close to adding a second goal when a good pass from James Flood put him in alone on Freeman, but he missed inches wide to the right post. Queens Park had trouble getting the ball into the area as our defense, especially our backline, shone today. Led by Danny Black, who earned MOM honours in his debut, we wouldn't allow them much time on the ball and they only managed a couple uncovered chances in the match. They still came close to evening things several times in the second half, but we survived to take an important road win. I was extremely pleased with the Chris Robertson- Black pairing in center defense. Their combined physical presence helped us win.

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24.9.05

East Stirling (1) Arbroath (0)

Despite having to field a lineup that was without James Flood, Steve McDonald and Kenny McLean, we managed to upset Arbroath who hadn't lost in their last 7 matches. We showed a lot as we controlled the tempo of the play through most of the match. The only goal came from veteran Ally Graham, who earned MOM honours when he fired a well-placed shot past Gareth Bough inside the far right post after a good pass from Carl Laurie picked him out with space in the area. Though we had the best of play, we didn't generate many good scoring chances. The match was on the line when Steven van der Deyl made the save of the match as he stopped Alan Brazil in a one-on-one chance after Danny Black missed a tackle in the last few minutes of play. We closed out the match with more certainty after that chance and it was another good win for us. More injury problems cropped us for us as Kevin Howe and Phil Creaney both went out and Howe's hamstring will keep him out at least 2 weeks to a month and Creaney's twisted knee should keep him out a similar amount of time.

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1.10.05

East Stirling (3) East Fife (0)

It was interesting to see us return the favor as we handed 1st place East Fife their first loss in over a month, thanks to a fully focused match. After having lost to them 3-0, they were certainly the favorites according to the oddsmakers, but we kept them from exploiting our backline like they did in the first match. We took full advantage of our opportunities in this one, and Mark Batty gave us the lead going to the dressing room with his 1st goal for us when he scorched in a 25 yarder after a hurried clearing attempt from Euan Donaldson went right to him and left him with an open net. James Flood had caused the opportunity as he had forced Scott Morrison to make a difficult save. We played conservatively with the lead to start the second half. That paid off early when Stuart McGrady was in the right place to score his 1st goal for us as he looped a shot past Morrison after collecting a loose ball just inside the edge of the area. Dave McEwen capped off the scoring for us with his 1st goal at East Stirling. McEwen, who was filling the unfamiliar role of leftwing for the tiring McGrady, scored bizarrely when his centering pass caught Morrison leaning the wrong way and unable to react as the mishit ball dropped behind him. We have just went through a tough stretch of three difficult matches with fine results and I am pretty proud of the boys effort down this stretch. We now face three road matches in a row and will have to keep playing well if we want to get any results from them.

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15.10.05

Elgin (0) East Stirling (0)

We showed little of the assertive offensive play that had been the hallmark of our last three wins. Instead we continually bobbled short passes and didn't make the best of our opportunities. Steven van der Deyl earned MOM honours when he earned us at least a point by making a terrific one-on-one save against Mark Shirley in second half injury time. They also had a few lucky breaks and it was heartbreaking to see us lose what appeared to be a certain goal when Steve McDonald pushed a rebound at the open net, only to see Lee Marshall slide and clear it off the goal line at the last moment. We had earned at least a draw, but if the execution had been there it could have been a win. Dave McEwen suffered a badly broken foot toward the end of the match and will miss 3-5 months recovering from it- another bad blow for us to lose a player of his caliber.

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22.10.05

Montrose (1) East Stirling (1)

We managed to fight back to earn a 1-1 draw with Montrose after yielding an early goal to them. The match featured a flurry of yellow cards and we were forced to eventually play for the draw when Carl Laurie earned his 2nd yellow card at 88 minutes. They had struck early for the lead when Stewart Bertram had slipped in unmarked and knocked in a rebound after Aaron Gillespie couldn't hold Tate Hulbert's sharp shot. We scored our equalizer about 5 minutes later when Steve McDonald drilled a ball into the open net after Graham McWilliam headed down for him off a corner. Neither side really had great chances after that, but Matt Hodgson and Gillespie were solid in keeping the score locked at 1-1. Funnily enough, both those keepers had to leave with injuries. Ally Graham, on for Derek Ure, wasted our best chance when he never got a shot off after being put free on a through ball from Danny Black. It was a fair result in a match where we were slightly outplayed.

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29.10.05

Berwick (0) East Stirling (1)

Struggling Berwick got no favors from us as we used a first half goal and a strong defensive effort to smother them in an important 1-0 win at Shielfield Park. The lone goal of the match came from Steve McDonald as he scored his 5th of the season with a nice shot inside the right post after a good pass from James Flood set him up nicely. Danny Black earned MOM honours for leading our backline in a determined effort in support of Steven van der Deyl's clean sheet. With both Flood and Kenny McLean removed from the lineup at halftime due to niggling injuries, Iain Diack had a chance to show his abilities. Diack got free twice, but saw Stephen Mason come up with big stops both times to keep his club in the match. van der Deyl made a superb save in the closing moments when he pushed Kevin Haynes rising shot over the bar to preserve the win. Unfortunately, Kevin Howe strained his hamstring again and will miss at least a couple weeks, James Flood pulled his groin and should be out 3 weeks at minimum and Kenny McLean may miss a week or two with a badly bruised head- all of which put a strain on the club's depth.

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5.11.05

East Stirling (0) Cowdenbeath (1)

It was a bad time for us to run into the hottest club in the 3rd Division. Without James Flood, Kenny McLean and Kevin Howe we had a tough time generating offense against their determined defense. The first half was a see-saw as both sides battled in the midfield to control the flow of play. Cowdenbeath had the better chances as their play was more exact than ours, but David Hay had to be sharp in their net to stop Steve McDonald on our lone good chance. We were a bit gutted when they scored a fluke goal at the end of the half. Paul Black sent a centering pass toward the net and the win gusted and carried it over Steven van der Deyl for what would be the lone goal in the match. The second half saw us desperately trying to rally, but they were efficient in their defense. McDonald had a great chance to even it in injury time, but Hay's terrific save earned him MOM honours and us a disappointing 1-0 loss.

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19.11.05

East Stirling (7) Stirling (2) Scottish Cup 1st Round

We were given little chance in our derby matchup in the 1st round of the Scottish Cup. Stirling appeared a much stronger side and I knew going in that I wasn't helping our cause by taking this match as a chance to rest several regulars. Instead the improbable happened. It was a quick start to the match for us and Iain Diack gave us the lead at 15 minutes with a nicely directed half-volley. The elation didn't last long as Andy Brand earned a 2nd yellow card at 25 minutes and we seemed up against it. I didn't want to sub on a player at this early juncture, so I asked Derek Ure to play out of position on the right wing. That move seemed to befuddle our rivals and Ure setup Diack nicely to chip his 2nd goal of the match past Myles Hogarth. Less than two minutes later, Ure added to the total when he snapped home a rebound. Stirling seemed to recover a little life when John Paul McBride quickly answered Ure's goal with a free kick goal past Derek Jackson (making his 1st Senior side appearance). We quickly turned the tables on them and Ure whistled in a 20 yard shot past Hogarth to make it 4-1 at halftime. With only 10 men, we emphasized slow buildups in our dressing room talk and discussed that they would come after us to start the half. We just couldn't keep a handle on McBride and he scored his 2nd of the match as they started surging forward. Their hopes diminished just as quickly as we marched down the pitch and Diack finished off his hat-trick when 17 year old winger Gordon Rae (Note- Grey player signed to contract) headed down for him. Diack then stunned them with his 4th goal of the match as he was in the right place to pick up the ball when Hogarth mishandled a backpass. A long goal kick that got past Andy Brand was just right for Diack to run onto and fire past Hogarth to cap an amazing 5 goal match and MOM honours. The Board and our fans were delighted with how we manhandled our derby opponent. I remain completely amazed that our second line players- playing with only 10 men through 2/3 of the match- were able to destroy them like this.

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Boo! My local side (Stirling) lose. A closer derby match would actually be East Stirlingshire v Falkirk, as both have grounds in Falkirk.

Just for future reference icon_biggrin.gif

Happy New Year Faramir!

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Simply- yes, I actually know that the true derby rivals for East Stirling are Stenhousemuir and Falkirk icon_smile.gif But the game insists that Stirling is also a derby rival in game commentary- so I treat it as such in the story icon_smile.gif

Happy New Year to you and any who happen to follow along on my stories- all the best icon_smile.gif

***

23.11.05

Albion Rovers (3) East Stirling (3)

It was a huge disappointment for us to walk away with the draw, but at least part of it was my fault. We took a 3-0 lead in the match as we rode the hot hand of Iain Diack in the first half. Despite not being fully fit, I wanted him in there and it paid off with him scoring a nice brace- the first when he deflected a cross from Stuart McGrady and the second after a nice pass from Steve McDonald. Those two gave Diack an amazing 7 goals in 1-1/2 matches and he became our top scorer with 8 goals. We jumped ahead 3-0 early in the second half when Ally Graham, on for Diack, picked out McDonald and he blasted a volley past Nick Baxter. We crumbled after that. I knew McGrady might run into fitness problems, and he did, but I had failed to properly address that on the bench and it cost us dearly. Phil Creaney, playing out of position, handed them their first goal- and the momentum- with a terrible pass. Chris Robertson then repeated that scenario less than 3 minutes later with an awful clearing pass. They capped their fightback with a harmless appearing shot that Steven van der Deyl misplayed into a goal. We wanted the win and tried for it, but Ross O'Donoghue was inches wide on a golden chance and then Kenny McLean's header drifted wide of the post and we were left with quiet trip home.

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26.11.05

East Stirling (2) Stenhousemuir (0)

We rebounded from the midweek falter to hand 1st place Stenhousemuir a stinging 2-0 loss at Firs Park in their derby matchup. From the opening whistle we played well, though it did take us some time to find an offensive rythym. We welcomed back James Flood from injury and he gave us the early lead with a well placed shot past Chris Fahey after Derek Ure picked him out with a good pass. It was even better to head to the dressing room with a 2-0 lead after Mick O'Brien deflected a Danny Black corner past Fahey. The second half was spent in a more conservative approach and Steven van der Deyl deserved his clean sheet as he made a difficult save on Frankie Carroll midway through the second half to blunt the visitors rally attempt. Injury claimed Gordon Rae for the next three weeks and I have to hope that Kevin Howe's health continues to rapidly improve, as we are very short of depth on our wings at present.

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3.12.05

East Stirling (1) Queens Park (1)

Queens Park was very ready for us this time and we spent the first half on our backheels, as they took the play to us while causing us many problems in trying to get our offense going. We were fortunate to be even with them at 1-1 at halftime. They took the lead when cagey Mike Sheron exploited Graham McWilliam's inexperience to gain enough space to snap a shot past Steven van der Deyl. They gifted us the equalizer as a terrible backpass from Chris Batey allowed Steve McDonald enough time to swoop in and hammer it past Nathan Freeman. Freeman earned his MOM honours in the second half though, as we came out of our funk and played much better on the ball. Freeman stopped both James Flood and McDonald on good chances and also tipped a rising shot from Mark Batty over the crossbar to help his side earn a point at Firs Park.

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10.12.05

East Stirling (1) Arbroath (1) Scottish Cup 2nd Round

We will be forced into a replay with Arbroath after a key defenisive mistake cost us a late equalizer. The early going saw us looking very sharp, despite the fact that I was again resting many regulars. Derek Ure drilled a shot past Scott Barnes into the left side of the net after Mark Gourlay made a good play to step in and pick off a clearing pass before firing his pass to Ure. With the lead, we were playing more conservatively in the second half and had done a good job blunting Arbroath's attempts to rally. Chris Robertson made a bad choice and a bad clearing pass that went right to Ian Dodds. Dodds quickly sent a looping pass over Robertson to dangerous Pat Clarke and he scored past Derek Jackson at 81 minutes to send our home faithful out of Firs Park disappointed with the 1-1 draw.

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14.12.05

Arbroath (2) East Stirling (0) Scottish Cup 2nd Round Replay

I made the conscious choice to go with our 2nd line in the replay against Arbroath. Our young club will be facing enough matches that keeping them fresh at the end of the season is more vital than overplaying them to move on in Cup competition is at this stage of our club's development. With the tendency of younger players to 'hit the wall' in the late season- I hope to keep them fresh enough to challenge late. We played a strong first half, but managed only a couple good chances that Scott Barnes was able to parry away. Arbroath came out more ready in the second half and took advantage of a pair of costly mistakes by Mark Gourlay. Gourlay was caught out of position twice in five minutes, and Arbroath turned both into goals. The first saw Pat Clarke slip free on the far post and hammer a shot past Steven van der Deyl (who had to come on for an injured Derek Jackson). Shortly after it was Alan Brazil racing down Gourlay's wing after he got caught up and firing a low shot past van der Deyl. We couldn't come up with any offense to rally and went quietly in finishing out the 2-0 loss at Gayfield Park.

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17.12.05

East Stirling (4) Elgin (3)

For awhile it seemed like we were painting a masterpiece against visiting Elgin, but in the end it was a matter of surviving and we somehow managed to hold on for an exciting (too exciting to be sure) 4-3 win. We struck early with a double hammer blow of a goal from James Flood and less than two minutes later a goal from Steve McDonald. Both times we caught them with good through balls on counter-attacks. It was 3-0 when McDonald forced a play by splitting their defense. Matt Dickins made the save on the shot, but Kenny McLean picked up the rebound and crossed to McDonald for his 2nd goal of the match. We seemingly let down from there when their promising young winger Henry Brown found space to rap home a goal just before halftime to give them a glimmer of hope. They were right back in the match at 58 minutes when Carl Laurie was redcarded for pulling Anton Lennox in our area and Kevin Gilligan converted the penalty kick past Steven van der Deyl. We managed to stay calm depite being down a man and Flood looked to have clinched the match for us when he again found space and Mick O'Brien gave him a pretty pass that he half-volleyed past Dickins. Nothing is ever easy though and we quickly gave that goal back when Johnny Walker's awful choice on a clearing pass went right to Jamie McKenzie and he slipped it past van der Deyl. We managed to close out the match on a quieter note and I breathed a sigh of relief at the final whistle.

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23.12.05

The pending opening of the transfer window caused me to canvas other clubs about their interest in our transer listed players. The one who drew the most interest was Andy Ross and he has agreed to a contract with Alloa and will join them on January 1st. Also leaving is Jamie Mackay, who has already packed up and left to Blyth on free transfer. We are adding a couple players on free transfer as well on January 1st. 20 year old DM John Adam is joining us from Morton and he was the main reason that Andy Ross was transfer listed. 18 year old SC Simon Jahn will be joining us on free transfer from the Albion Rovers. Adam and Jahn both have potential, but Adam is clearly the superior addition at this point.

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26.12.05

Arbroath (1) East Stirling (0)

Pat Clarke is turning into a first-class nemesis of ours as he made a brilliant run and shot past Steven van der Deyl for the only goal in a close 1-0 win for the home side. The goal came on a uncharacteristically bad play from James Flood- as his backpass to Danny Black was taken on the run by Clarke. We had plenty of good chances ourselves, but weren't able to capitalize as Flood was close to scoring several times and Gareth Bough made a diving stop on Mark Batty midway through the second half. Clarke lost a second goal on an offside call, but was clearly MOM for his dominating performance up front for them.

***

1.1.06

Scottish 3rd Division Table- 18 matches midway through season

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

1- Stenhousemuir 32 pts (+3)

2- East Stirling 31 pts (+8)

3- Arbroath 30 pts (+10)

4- Cowdenbeath 26 pts (+3)

5- Queen's Park 26 pts (+2)

6- Montrose 24 pts (-2)

</pre>

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4.1.06

East Stirling (1) Montrose (1)

On one hand, I suppose we should be happy with the draw, as we were outplayed by visiting Montrose. On the other hand, we had worked hard defensively all match and then just failed to make the plays that allowed them a late equalizer- and that is hard to take when we could have had a win from the match. We took the lead in the first half when Iain Diack picked up his own rebound and snapped it past Matt Hodgson. Things looked rosy when Elliott Smith pushed Derek Ure in the area and we had a penalty kick midway through the half, but Hodgson saved Graham McWilliam's blast and it was for naught. We dodged the bullet many times throughout the first and second halves as Derek Jackson gave up several dicey rebounds, but our backline did a good job clearing them away. Moments after it looked like we had the clinching goal on a Derek Ure cross that Ally Graham headed home- only to see it waved off on Ure's offside- they finally managed to score when Stewart Bertram slipped one inside the left post past Jackson and the visitors escaped with a 1-1 draw.

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7.1.06

East Fife (0) East Stirling (1)

It was a stunning last moment win for us, after a match that appeared headed for a frustrating scoreless draw. Their keeper- John Dodds- had played a stellar match and made some terrific saves to keep us off the board. That was why it was so amazing when he mis-hit a goal kick directly to James Flood, and Flood quickly took the ball in and sent it into the right side of the net for the match winner deep into second half injury time. We had dominated the match, but a combination of Dodd's play, timely tackling by their backline and a few 'just-missed' shots had left us bereft of goals. It was a fortunate win, but one we really did deserve for our play.

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ibrox- Grant had a decent season on loan at Cumbernauld, but to give you where he is right now (skipping ahead, because posting lags behind how far along I am)- he went on free transfer and is now playing at Gateshead. Remind me every now and then and I will give you updates icon_smile.gif

***

8.1.06

I was relieved to see Pat Clarke leave Arbroath and go back to Raith Rovers after his loan expired. I actually put a bid in on him, but he wasn't going to come to East Stirling and instead is heading to English side Oxford- after they won a bidding war with 6 other clubs for his services.

***

14.1.06

East Stirling (1) Berwick (0)

We edged visiting Berwick in a close 1-0 win to continue their struggles as the last place club. The lone goal came early on when Steve McDonald slipped a pass through to James Flood and he scooted past the defense and took the ball around Stephen Mason for a fantastic goal. After that the match turned into a tactical defensive match, especially after we lost Steven van der Deyl to injury at halftime. Derek Jackson filled in well and made two timely saves to preserve the clean sheet and win late in the second half. Paul O'Brien led a strong effort by the backline and earned MOM honours.

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21.1.06

Cowdenbeath (2) East Stirling (1)

The loss of Steven van der Deyl was clearly felt in this match as we outplayed Cowdenbeath by a large margin, but lost to them 2-1 due to an inferior performance in net by Derek Jackson. Their keeper- Alex Hards- had a brilliant match and the MOM honours he received was justly earned. He made several excellent saves in the first half, but we finally managed to get one by him in injury time as John Adam deflected a Kenny McLean corner past him for his 1st goal here. Cowdenbeath evened the match when Markus Paatelainen drilled a 25 yard free kick past Jackson. Paatelainen then made it a brace when his 30 yard shot sailed past a stranded Jackson five minutes later. We had several good chances to equalize, but Hards just kept our players shaking their heads with his fine work and they edged us 2-1.

***

26.1.06

With the transfer deadline looming, I had been looking to gain more depth. Albion Rovers accepted my free transfer bid on Lee Wilson and he quickly agreed on a contract. Wilson is a 24 yr old SC who has good physical abilities, but lacks development in his skills. The thing that was attractive to me- despite my Assistant Manager believing his signing wasn't worthwhile- is that he is left footed and will give decent cover for Steve McDonald.

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28.1.06

East Stirling (1) Albion Rovers (1)

A match that we should have won easily, but we were undone by our poor finishing. Albion managed only one shot on goal for the match, but it was their first one and Lee Sichi deflected a cross past an out-of-position Derek Jackson to give them the early lead. We equalized late in the first half when Graham McWilliam deflected a Kenny McLean corner past Nick Baxter. Baxter stymied us after that- as he saved every one that we put on net. It was a rather disappointing draw as we played superbly in attack today.

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29.1.06

Our only addition before the transfer deadline was the free transfer purchase of 16 year old AM/FC Stephen Hindmarch from Carlisle. Bob Pearson thought the world of him when he scouted him and I am impressed with both his skill set- at his age- and his versatility. It also speaks well that he had been playing fairly regularly for Carlisle and had acquitted himself well despite his youth. Our main challenge may be to get him under contract when he turns 17 at the beginning of April.

***

1.2.06

Now we start our most challenging stretch of matches remaining in our schedule. We have 3 consecutive road matches, beginning with a hugely important visit to face local rival Stenhousemuir. We follow that with a trip up to Elgin and then a tangle with Queens Park. How we do on this stretch will likely have a large impact on where we wind up at the end of the season.

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Thank you Flying_Fin icon_smile.gif The kind words are appreciated...

***

4.2.06

Stenhousemuir (1) East Stirling (4)

We kicked off our road travels with a sensational performance as we handed Stenhousemuir a stinging 4-1 loss. We controlled large swaths of the match and we grabbed a 2-0 lead midway through the first half. Steve McDonald struck for a precision placed 10th goal of the season from 20 yards out as he threaded it past Chris Fahey inside the right post. Less than 3 minutes later James Flood added an exclamation point with a strong header past Fahey on a cross from McDonald. Stenhousemuir struck back quickly after Flood's goal as Craig Marr did a nice job shedding an attempted tackle from Danny Black and then blasting a shot past Steven van der Deyl. The match stayed that way until halftime, but the second half belonged to us. Flood made it a brace of goals when he flicked a header on a Black free kick past Fahey midway through the half. John Adam, on for a tiring Mick O'Brien, then capped the scoring with a superb deflection of a Kenny McLean corner to send the Ochilview Park faithful heading for the exits.

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11.2.06

Elgin (3) East Stirling (4)

It was with pain that I watched us let Elgin back into the match in the late stages, after it appeared we had them well and truly buried with a 4-1 lead. We survived their rally though and held on for a deserved 4-3 win. James Flood and Steve McDonald keyed our efforts again today with their seamless play. Flood had a brace of goals and McDonald had one as they gave the Elgin backline fits. Kenny McLean had our other goal with a wicked 25 yard blast. With the 4-1 lead, Danny Black stunned everyone when he passed the ball right to Henry Brown in front of our net and Brown easily slipped it past Steven van der Deyl. Then Graham McWilliam, who had played a stellar match to that point, made an ill-advised trip in the area and the ref was quick to point to the spot. Kevin Gilligan converted the penalty kick and our once comfortable match saw us hanging on by the fingernails. We dodged a last moment bullet when Brown scored his 2nd goal in injury time, only to find he had been ruled offside and the goal was waved off. The final whistle was a huge relief to all of us.

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18.2.06

Queens Park (0) East Stirling (0)

I never enjoy playing to draws, but I was happy to at least get a point out of this match. The only way to explain it is that Queens Park had the jump on us the whole match. They were quicker to the ball in most every case and that meant we had virtually no time on the ball since we weren't finding space in their formation. We managed one excellent chance, but Nathan Freeman made the save on Steve McDonald. We also had a golden opportunity to open the second half, but James Flood waited a hare too long and Ashley Fickling made the saving tackle on McDonald when it looked like he had a sitter. On the flip side, we played very good defense and though Steven van der Deyl had to make some saves to keep the sheet clean, we didn't allow them any very good chances. It was a fair result for us on a day when the other side appeared clearly better. Minor injuries affected several of our players and McDonald will now likely miss the key Arbroath match next week. Derek Jackson also slipped and hurt his knee and might be out most of the remainder of the season.

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25.2.06

East Stirling (2) Arbroath (1)

Unlikely heroes are the reasons for successful seasons and we certainly celebrated one today. With Steve McDonald out with a minor injury, Lee Wilson was back into the lineup to pair with James Flood up front. We held sway over the flow of play through the first portion of the first half, but luck was against us. Flood saw Gareth Bough make a superb save on him and then Kenny McLean fired a shot off the crossbar. Our Firs Park faithful were groaning when Flood crossed to Wilson and Bough snared his header on a terrific stop. We kept on pressuring them in the area and it paid off when Wilson was in the right place to drive home a loose ball after a poor clearance attempt from Ian Dodds cost the visitors dearly. With the 1-0 lead, we were playing more conservatively in the second half, but I could not get my defensive line to stay back- despite specifically instructing them to back off. Their lack of listening cost us when Alan Brazil was there to deflect a cross past Steven van der Deyl as Danny Black was caught out of position. I wanted this win badly and so did the boys. Wilson stepped up again and did the brace with a low shot past Bough after Mark Batty's good pass found him with space. This time I didn't bother to instruct them to play defensively, instead I told them to just play hard. They had a couple genuine chances to even things, but van der Deyl stopped them. We had a couple chances to put the match away with another goal, but Flood missed a sitter and Wilson's shot was wide. The final whistle found us relieved as we had pulled off a 2-1 lead over 3rd Division leader Arbroath in a key matchup.

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4.3.06

Montrose (1) East Stirling (1)

We could not buy a break in this match, and it cost us a better result as we were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw. Montrose Keeper Matt Hodgson earned his MOM honours- especially in the first half as we peppered him with good scoring chances. Hodgson stopped James Flood and Lee Wilson from close range and also benefitted from a kind net as we hit a crossbar and a post. They took the lead early in the second half, mostly due to my bad management choice. Graham McWilliam was hobbled in the first half by a slight ankle injury. I was loathe to remove him and let him start the second half. That turned costly when Danny Byrne made a quick move past him with the ball and fired it past Steven van der Deyl. We showed heart as we jumped right back to the attack, led by Derek Ure, who came on for Wilson. Ure missed just wide and then created a free kick just outside the area. Stuart McGrady blasted a rising free kick into the upper right corner of the net for the equalizer. I was pleased that we didn't back off at that point and we tried for the win. It wasn't to be for us as Ure earned a penalty in injury time, but Hodgson somehow got a hand on Danny Black's penalty kick and kept it out to save his side a point. We have had little luck with penalties this season and it has cost us some points in the standings- today being another case.

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11.3.06

East Stirling (2) East Fife (1)

As we continue on the final stretch of the season, this appeared to be the last match where I might buy the regulars a breather. East Fife came in having lost 3 in a row and were dead last in Division 3 play. I especially wanted to get Steven van der Deyl a breather as I am expecting to play him the remainder of the matches. I also wanted to get James Flood a match off. That looked like an unwise decision at halftime. Despite having played well in the first half, we went to the dressing room behind when Danny Black made an awful decision to try and pass it Aaron Gillespie with Ross Harrison parked right in front of him. Gillespie compounded the bad choice by challenging and Harrison deflected it past him for a disheartening goal. Having shown they could handle our offensive set in the first half, I decided to show the visitors something new and we came out in a very attacking 22132 formation. That change seemed to fluster them. Black redeemed himself with a terrific free kick that Iain Diack deflected past John Dodds for his 10th goal of the season to equalize in the opening moments of the second half. We kept after them with the same formation and it again paid dividends six minutes later as Steve McDonald- just back from injury- slipped a pass through and Diack took it around Dodds to get his brace. With the lead, we moved back to a more conservative approach, but it almost cost us as the backline failed to cover John Bradford. Fortunately, his header went over the bar. A couple minutes later a botched throw-in on our part allowed Andrew Windross in free on Gillespie- but he also missed over the bar. We survived until the final whistle for an important 2-1 win.

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12.3.06

I felt sorry for Jim Moffat, as our win over East Fife cost him his position. Greg Shaw was named to take his place.

Paul O'Brien suffered a strained back in training today. We will be without one of our key leaders for the next month as he is treated.

***

18.3.06

Berwick (1) East Stirling (2)

I tried to have the boys ready for a difficult match and they responded well. We took the play to them in the early going and that paid off when Steve McDonald found enough space to fire a well placed shot past Stephen Mason from just inside the edge of the area. We came close to adding to the lead several times as we missed inches wide twice on golden opportunities and also saw Mason tip Kenny McLean's shot over the bar. I was much more comfortable when McDonald struck for his 2nd goal of the match early in the second half, as he deflected a free kick from Danny Black past Mason. The referee changed the complexion of the match when he sent Carl Laurie off with his 2nd yellow card shortly after the goal. We did a nice job of limiting their chances and Steven van der Deyl was very sharp in trying to maintain a clean sheet. They managed to convert a corner kick as Clark Keltie deflected it past van der Deyl in injury time and we were back to nervous waiting. The final whistle found us clinging to the lead and with another important road win in the book. Laurie's one-match suspension will cause problems with Paul O'Brien out- we don't have much cover at fullback at the moment.

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