The Scots followed a 1-0 loss against Germany on Saturday with a 2-1 defeat by Spain yesterday. They now face a final EuroHockey Nations Championship Pool B match against England, ranked No.4 in the world, tomorrow. It is a match imbued with significance, then, but Shepherd has faith that his players will show that they are strong enough to beat the drop.
"We were the better team and dominated most of the game," he said following the loss to Spain. "Composure in the D needs to be better but the players are doing a great job. Small things make the difference at this level."
Shepherd had identified the fixture against Spain, No.14 in the world rankings, as pivotal to his side's ambitions but the Scots fell behind within the first 14 seconds. Maria Gomez scored from an acute angle on the left in Spain's first attack and it rattled the Scots, but they battled back to dominate the rest of the first-half and Nikki Kidd levelled from a penalty corner.
Scotland continued to press and the pace of Vicky Bunce, of Dundee Wanderers, caused Spain problems. A slick move involving Catriona Ralph (Clydesdale Western), Emily Maguire (Reading) and Grove Menzieshill's Alison Bell was only quelled by a scrambled clearance.
There was a sense of frustration as Scotland struggled to transform their pressure into anything more tangible and their concerns manifest in another concession with just nine minutes of the first period left. Kareena Marshall (Western Wildcats) was green carded and Gomez took full advantage to score her second.
Spain - a side unbeaten by Scotland in their last four meetings in the EuroHockey Nations Championship - were made to ride out another period of sustained pressure after the break; Nicola Lloyd unnerving the opposition before Spain's Georgina Olivia was sent to the sidelines for 10 minutes after a robust challenge.
Amy Gibson, the Scotland goalkeeper, was then taken off as Leigh Fawcett became a kicking back with four minutes remaining. But the Scots could not conjure an equaliser.