Buffs boss Chris con­fi­dent new sign­ings will solve his short­age of goals prob­lem

Evening Times - - SPORT - By JIM O’DON­NELL

AT­TEMPT­ING to be­come a suc­cess­ful Ju­nior team man­ager makes one ob­sess about the small de­tails that help to im­prove play­ers as in­di­vid­u­als and as a col­lec­tive.

And there’s no deny­ing that mak­ing good sign­ing choices are para­mount in this re­spect but what is the most im­por­tant cog to get one started?

Is it the mid­fielder al­ways play­ing with his head up to pick a pass?…the no-non­sense stop­per whose de­fen­sive at­ti­tude is not to be passed?...or the striker able to read a pass and in­stinc­tively be in the right po­si­tion at the right time?

Ar­guably more im­por­tant is hav­ing the abil­ity to cal­cu­late what’s needed and in­stil a bit of bal­ance, how­ever that’s not al­ways in­stantly achiev­able as Kil­win­ning Rangers boss Chris Strain has been find­ing out.

Speak­ing ahead of lead­ing his Buffs side through to face Ross­vale at their new Hun­ter­shill Hub com­plex to­day, he ad­mit­ted: “One of the ma­jor fac­tors that left us need­ing to win the play-off against Kil­syth Rangers to avoid rel­e­ga­tion from the Su­per Pre­mier Di­vi­sion last sea­son was our very poor scor­ing record.

“Only bot­tom-of-the-ta­ble Troon and sur­pris­ingly enough Auchin­leck Tal­bot net­ted fewer goals so it was al­ways my aim to strengthen our for­ward line op­tions and I do be­lieve we have achieved that with our moves on the trans­fer mar­ket to bring in at­tack-minded types David Win­ters, Ryan Nis­bet and Michael Wardrope.

“Goals have not been hard to come by in our pre-sea­son games and only the other night we beat a de­cent Shortlees Am­a­teurs side 5-0 thanks to goals from Liam McGuin­ness, Carlo Monti, Bryan Boy­lan (2) and John Mo­nan.

“And right now I would say we are close to look­ing the fin­ished ar­ti­cle in the for­ward go­ing ar­eas but I’m not nearly so happy with how we are shap­ing up de­fen­sively and my big­gest con­cern is we end up like New­cas­tle United un­der the gung-ho man­age­ment of Kevin Kee­gan.”

Strain, who re­ports his ver­sa­tile de­fender Tommy Mait­land as the only non-starter for the head-to­head against Ross­vale, man­aged by his for­mer Irvine Meadow team-mate Brian McGinty, went on: “Hav­ing pos­ses­sion and con­trol of the ball in the op­po­si­tion half is great but there are un­doubt­edly go­ing to be times when we will need to de­fend.

“I can­not help but think we are short of op­tions even though we have a nat­u­ral mid­field sit­ter in Find­lay Frye who is able to pro­tect our back four.

“We will have to try and source the pegs to fit in the holes but if needs must then play­ers may have to play out of po­si­tion to get us by.”

Yet an­other Ayr­shire out­fit ap­par­ently blessed with strik­ing riches are Cum­nock whose clos­esea­son sign­ings Sean McKen­zie (4) and Adam Forsyth (2) were on the mark in a 7-1 mid­week ham­mer­ing of luck­less New­mains United.

Nock boss John McKe­own said: “The guys were 6-0 up at half-time but took their foot of the gas sec­ond half, how­ever it’s hard to be over crit­i­cal given it is only our sec­ond pre-sea­son friendly match.

“We de­lib­er­ately started later than most clubs be­cause last sea­son didn’t fin­ish un­til mid-June and the ex­tra rest seems to have done the play­ers the world of good as we also scored seven goals in our first match back against Cam­bus­lang Rangers.

“McKen­zie bagged a hat-trick and Forsyth a dou­ble that day and there’s no doubt the pair of them are on fire right now and bang­ing the goals in for fun.”

McKE­OWN added: “Their blast­ing out of the blocks has kept last sea­son’s top scorer Scott An­son on the side­lines but his time will come and he’s made of the right stuff for deal­ing with the chal­lenge for his strik­ing jer­sey.

“Our other sign­ings are also bed­ding in well with the ex-East Kil­bride This­tle mid­fielder Liam McLaughlin also on tar­get against New­mains while Richard Mur­ray, for­merly of Queen of the South, is a very ath­letic and pow­er­ful pres­ence i n our back­line.”

Cum­nock host the visit of St Roch’s to­day and the home side’s pro­lific scor­ing form is a con­cern for vis­it­ing gaffer Andy Cameron, not least be­cause he has goal­keeper John Stark and de­fend­ers Ross Dick­son, John Carter and Ryan Jack posted miss­ing.

The Candy Rock chief said: “Cum­nock in their own back­yard would be a stiff enough test if we had every­one avail­able so the worry is we might be on the wrong end of a con­fi­dence dent­ing de­feat with the sea­son get­ting un­der­way next Wed­nes­day night.

“That said we have brought in ex­pe­ri­enced de­fend­ers in Tam Han­lon and Robert Halliday and they are both good talk­ers who will help our less ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers han­dle the oc­ca­sion.”

On the trans­fer front, comes word of Kil­birnie Lade­side snap­ping up de­fender Gavin Mitchell who was for­merly on the books of Queen’s Park.

Chris Strain’s Kil­win­ning Rangers side travel to face Ross­vale at their new Hun­ter­shill Hub com­plex to­day

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