All in the balance

ARBROATH boss Paul Sheerin and his side are gearing up for the tough test they know they will be facing in the coming weeks, writes Johnston Ralston.

The remainder of the 2012/13 campaign will play out over the next four games for the Maroons and player/manager Sheerin knows it is time for his side to dig in.

The win at Gayfield against Albion Rovers on Saturday boosted the Lichties into that all-important fourth play-off spot.

However, Forfar’s catch-up game against Brechin on Tuesday saw the Loons oust Arbroath in what must be a very frustrating situation for the boss.

Mr Sheerin doesn’t appear to be too fazed by the developments though. He said: “It’s not ideal, but we always knew that this week we would be able to get a better idea of the situation.

“We’ve played the same number of games as Forfar and we’ll just have to win football matches. It is vital that we get the points with four games to go.”

The boss admits he will be watching Forfar’s remaining league fixtures with quite a bit of interest.

He said: “Forfar are in the driving seat so we’ll have to win games and at 4.45 p.m. I’ll be looking at the results hoping that the Loons have slipped up.

“They’ve got two very tough games coming up, one away against Alloa and the other at home to Queen of the South.

“They’re on a great run currently and getting the results. They’re going well and they will take a bit of stopping, but we just have to look after ourselves for the moment.”

Looking forward to the game tomorrow (Saturday), Arbroath travel to Glebe Park to face a Brechin City side which had until recently been flying high.

Brechin currently sit in third place three points ahead of Forfar who beat them 4-3 on Tuesday night.

At the time of going to press they had two games in hand including the one tomorrow, but it is unlikely they will be displaced from the third play-off spot with two upcoming games against bottom of the league Albion Rovers and another against Stranraer.

Mr Sheerin will be hoping to take advantage of this blip and not be caught out by any bounce back.

He said: “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t confident, but we need to concentrate on winning the games we have left.

“I watched them on Tuesday against Forfar and they didn’t start too well, but they are still a real threat going forward.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to find chinks in their defences and make full use of them for ourselves and pick up the three points. One point is no good to us and we need to try for all three.”

And this is something that the fans can help with. The Lichties will be looking for some vocal support from the travelling fan base.

Mr Sheerin added: “It usually is a good turnout from the away fans to be fair. It would be nice to get that support to help us get into the play-offs.”

The boss will be pleased that he has a pretty fit team pool to pick from as they come to this crucial point in the season, with the exception of Brian Kerr who suffered ligament damage to his knee when they faced Forfar at the end of March.

Regardless of what happens in the next few weeks, the gaffer is also having to concentrate on the long view after he was given a two year contract extension.

Mr Sheerin said: “I’m delighted obviously. It has actually flown by these past three seasons. You can probably argue that this has been my toughest season yet and for them to back me is excellent.

“Security in football is not always guaranteed, so it’s great to be signed on for another two years.”

This extra time will also give him an opportunity to shape the side worthy of competing at whatever level the Lichties find themselves at next season, be it First or Second Division football.

He said: “Hopefully I can shape the team I want, that’s the process we are in just now. We will shortly start getting players tied up and get that moving forward and start looking at other players for next season.”

l Visit to see HeraldSport’s post-match video interview with Paul Sheerin.