Shire stay on top of Stirling

09/02/2013 Pic Lisa McPhillips'Irn Bru Third Division - East Stirling v Peterhead 'Shire manager Jim Coughlin
09/02/2013 Pic Lisa McPhillips'Irn Bru Third Division - East Stirling v Peterhead 'Shire manager Jim Coughlin

Kevin Turner’s second half penalty kept East Stirlingshire off the bottom of the Third Division table last night.

But it was a night of missed opportunities for Shire who could not convert second half superiority into the goals which would have secured victory and taken them five points clear of their hosts.

After a relatively tight and scoreless first period the hosts took the lead in the opening minute after the interval when Graham Weir was left unmarked at the near post to head home Kieran McAnespie’s right-wing corner kick.

But the Albion advantage was short-lived. Just six minutes later a great ball into the home box sent Andy Stirling clear, but before he could get his shot away he was upended by Stephen Day.

Referee Alan Newlands, who had an evening to forget, at least got the decision to award a penalty kick right, albeit with the help of the stand side linesman, and Shire skipper Turner levelled the scores with the spot kick.

It was inevitable that with so much resting on the outcome of the match that things would be fairly tight but the match did open out in the closing quarter.

Grant Hay saved Shire from falling behind after 73 minutes with a great save to stop Mark Ferry’s shot with his legs, then not long after managed to put Weir off as the Albion man tried to go round him on the edge of the box and Ricky Miller cleared any danger.

Shire coach John Coughlin sent on trialist striker Max Wright and Nathan Shepherd made his return from the substitutes bench in a bid to inject some pace into the visitors’ attacks.

After 77 minutes Stirling played Turner clean through on goal but, with only keeper David Crawford to beat, he hit his shot too near the goalie who saved with his legs.

A minute later a ball into the Albion box reached Turner but, at full stretch, he could not direct his shot accurately enough and the chance was gone.

Wright had a great run inside the closing five minutes from deep that took him clear of the home defence but he elected to shoot early and again with only Crawford to beat his shot hit the side netting.

Michael Hunter and Shepherd both made great runs into the box as the game became a frantic search for a winning goal but neither could beat Crawford with their final efforts.

Albion themselves were piling forward in search of the winner which would have taken them off the bottom of the table but they failed to turn a number of set pieces from dangerous positions into worthwhile scoring opportunities.

The first half, by comparison, was cagey and guarded, with neither side committing much to attack. Shire started the brightest and after eight minutes a powerful Stirling shot from just outside the box forced a great save from the home keeper.

After 36 minutes Albion created their best opportunity of the half when some slack Shire defending allowed Mark Ferry a clear run into the box but his effort from a tight angle flew across the face of goal and wide.