East Stirlingshire 1 Edinburgh Uni 1: Shire set record but drop vital points

Shire struggled to find a way past the Edinburgh University defence (pic by Alan Murray)
Shire struggled to find a way past the Edinburgh University defence (pic by Alan Murray)

East Stirlingshire set a new Lowland League scoring record and stretched their unbeaten run to nine games but it wasn’t everything that coach John Sludden had been hoping for.

Instead visitors Edinburgh University were allowed to escape with a point as Shire became enmeshed in the visitors’ spiders-web defence which for long spells saw them funnelling all ten outfield players behind the ball.

Sludden’s men, so used to a free run to do as they pleased in the attacking third of the pitch, tried hard but, in the end, lacked the guile required to overcome their opponents’ defensive strategy.

They did manage to get their 75th goal of the season and set that new record - but an equaliser early in the second half earned the students a 1-1 draw.

“We knew how they would approach the game and you have to give them credit,” said Sludden of the students. “They had a game plan and they stuck to it and they managed to come away with a point because of that.

“From our point of view we allowed ourselves to become frustrated. There was a lot of time-wasting and slowing the game down but we know we aren’t always going to get everything our own way and we just have to manage that better.”

But Shire will reflect that, for all their troubles, they only really have themselves to blame for not picking up all three points.

Despite struggling to break down a fit, determined, and admirably disciplined set of opponents they did manage to get in front after 43 minutes when Connor Greene rose at the back post to head home Paul Sludden’s free-kick.

Even if they weren’t going to run up the goals, even if they were a bit below par, that still should have been enough.

Instead, four minutes after the break Jack Guthrie rose inside the Shire box to send a rather harmless looking header toward goal only for keeper Jamie Barclay to fumble the ball over the line.

Given that Shire had struggled from the start to break their opponents down it was going to be even harder asking them to do it a second time. In fact, it was beyond them.

Although, as the coach fairly pointed out afterwards, it wasn’t for the want of trying or for the lack of chances.

“We had two really good chances in the first five minutes of the game,” he said. “We got in behind them and on another day Jamie (Glasgow) might have scored but it wasn’t to be.

“In the first half we just kept plugging away and eventually we got our reward but in the second half we got off to a bad start and it was a soft goal and after that we got frustrated and let refereeing decisions affect us and that’s how it finished.”

It might have started with a goal straight from kick-off. From the referee’s first whistle the ball was sent wide to Drew Ramsay whose cross found Kris Faulds but his shot flew across the face of goal and wide.

Then Glasgow got in behind the defence and tried to beat the keeper at his near post but he got his shot all wrong and shanked it wide.

That set a pattern. Sludden and Steven Brisbane shot wide from range, Glasgow headed onto the roof of the net and a spectacular Andy Rodgers’ attempt from 35 yards just crept over the bar.

The closest Shire came was when the visitors’ Luke Murray almost headed into his own net.

But Greene’s header looked to have settled Shire only for the visitors to upset the apple cart.

After the levelling goal Rodgers fluffed a chance at the back post with the goal gaping, David Grant was denied a clear penalty when he had his jersey tugged inside the box, Glasgow had a shot blocked on the line and Greene had the chance to be the hero again but his header from Sludden’s cross was straight at the keeper.

SHIRE : Barclay, MacGregor, Ramsay, A.Grant, Greene, Faulds(D.Grant 66), Rodgers, Ure, Brisbane, Sludden, Glasgow.