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