THE short-lived Martin Mooney era could soon be over after the Sauchie gaffer stepped down from first team duties for family reasons.

Advertiser Sport can reveal the former East Stirlingshire coach told the players the bombshell news last Tuesday before sitting out their defeat to Tranent Juniors.

Darren Cummings and Darren Petrie have once again been placed in temporary charge of the Beechwood Park men with club chiefs offering Mooney as much time as he needs before returning.

It's a devastating blow to the injury-ravaged Reds, who currently sit second bottom in the Premier Division after losing three of their first four games.

Mooney, 48, told Advertiser Sport: "It was one of the toughest decisions I have had to make but it was only right that I took the step to support my family.

"They've been there for me for 26 years and have supported me through thick and thin.

"I don't know how long I will be out for but I will take all the time I need.

"The two Darrens will take the team and we trust them to do that."

Mooney only made the switch to the Wee County in June after replacing Iain Diack, who also stood down for family reasons at the end of last season's promotion campaign.

The former Falkirk, Stenhousemuir and Dumbarton player had previously been part of the backroom staff at Berwick Rangers, Camelon Juniors, Kilsyth Rangers, and latterly East Stirling before taking his first steps into management with Sauchie.

He quickly set about rebuilding the team to compete in the newly-formed East of Scotland Premier League.

The club's chairman, Noel Dalli, confirmed the news to Advertiser Sport and urged Mooney to take all the time he needs before making a decision to return or not.

Dalli added: "We have given him a compassionate leave of absence and will give him a few weeks before we reassess things.

"It is obviously a devastating time for Martin and all our thoughts are with him and his family.

"We trust the Darrens to get on with it in the meantime and they have all of our backing."