Shire 3 Royal Albert 1: Rodgers returns to inspire Shire

He’s played too many cameos lately and now Andy Rodgers wants a starring role again.

And the 32 year-old man of many clubs says he’s prepared to call time on a long career in the Scottish League if it means more games with East Stirlingshire. Rodgers got just his second start in more than a year in Shire’s 3-1 win over Hawick Royal Albert at Ochilview on Saturday and set them on their way with the game’s opening goal.

With his loan spell from Peterhead due to expire at the end of the month, and his future with the League 1 team by no means certain, Rodgers says he’d willingly accept a return to Shire, where he scored regularly in a two-and-a-half season spell between 2008 and 2010.

“Peterhead have been great with me. They have done everything in a professional manner but (manager) Jim (McInally) was honest enough to say I probably wouldn’t play.

“There was always a space for me but I probably wouldn’t play so I have come here to get games and then see if I can get something permanent sorted.”

And if Shire were to give him the chance of regular football in the Lowland League he would take it. “That’s the first plan,” he said. “I will speak to the people here and see what can be done. I just want to play and the level doesn’t really bother me. I’d rather try to get them back (into the league) than go somewhere senior that’s just a slog.”

Shire could certainly use someone of Rodgers’ ability in the Lowland League as they strive to make it back to League 2 at the first time of asking. In his appearances so far this term the difference in ability between Rodgers and some of his opponents has, at times, been almost comically wide. It may well be Shire and the talented striker need each other.

Although he has lacked match action and is still feeling his way back after a summer knee operation, Rodgers looks a class act at this level.

He eased Shire into an early advantage just seven minutes after kick-off; galloping onto a defence-splitting pass from Jamie Glasgow, controlling the ball and slipping it under the keeper into the net.

“I was glad it came early,” he said. “The last thing you want is to wait for it coming and the fact that the goal came so early put me at ease a bit.

“A lot of the game I was slack and rusty but I’ll get there. I felt OK at times but I should have done a lot better and I’m sure that will come.”

Whatever Rodgers offered was good enough for Shire on an afternoon when a lightning fast start to the game promised more than it eventually delivered.

Three minutes after Rodgers’ goal David Grant raced clear of Hawick’s poorly constructed offside trap to score past an exposed keeper.

Grant should have made it 3-0 after 18 minutes but was denied by a miraculous save and referee David Munro made sure things didn’t get too one-sided by turning a blind eye to two stonewall penalties for deliberate handball.

In fact, Shire were so far ahead it caused them to lose their way totally midway through the game. The visitors, to their credit, didn’t despair at their poor start and as Shire dawdled they attempted a comeback.

Josh Morris and Kris Mitchell both fired shots just wide of target and the home faithful stirred in their seats. Skipper Derek Ure geed his team from its complacency and, after 66 minutes, they put the game to bed with Grant finishing off a mazy penalty box dribble with a solid finish.

Rodgers could have had a second but his ambitious attempt to prod one in at the near post went wide. Then, after 70 minutes, he took his curtain call and a seat on the bench.

“It’s been a long time since I started a game and I’m confident it will come back,” he said. “It’s different starting games to coming off the bench when you’re the fresh one but I’ll get there.”

Shire will be annoyed at conceding an injury-time goal when Morris flicked home a free-kick from close range. But the optimism generated by the potential return of yet another prodigal son made up for that.

SHIRE : Shaw, MacGregor, Murray, A. Grant, Greene, Faulds, Rodgers (Hogg 71), Ure (Peddie 85), D. Grant, Sludden (McMillan 76), Glasgow.

HAWICK ROYAL ALBERT : Rankin, McPartlin, Smeaton, Johnson, Saunderson, Linton, Meikle, Conaghan, Morris, Mitchell, McInally.

REFEREE : David Munro