Craig Tully is still trying to work out how his team ended up losing their three game unbeaten run at East Fife last Saturday.
The East Stirlingshire boss had watched his team recover from a shaky start to take command of the game by half-time with a 2-1 advantage which seemed set fair for them to extend their good form into another week.
But Shire fell apart in the second period, losing four goals and ending up two men short after Reece Donaldson and Aron Lynas were sent off.
“It’s hard to explain,” said Tully. “By half-time we were so far on top it looked as though all we had to do was keep on what we were doing and we would win the game.
“But we made a poor start to the second half and let them back into it with a sloppy goal from a corner, which was exactly what we didn’t want.”
Perversely, Shire’s real problems only began after East Fife’s Jordan Insall became the first of three players to receive his marching orders from referee Nick Walsh.
Tully says, in hindsight, having the extra man didn’t really help his team’s cause at all. He admits he might, given the chance again, have done things differently.
“Maybe it was the wrong thing to do to go out and try to win the game early after they had their man sent off,” he said. “Perhaps we should have just sat in and waited our time.”
Indiscipline did not help Shire either. Donaldson ended up off the pitch with nearly 15 minutes to go after picking up two avoidable bookings. It’s the second time he has been sent off this season and the former Peterhead defender has also picked up seven yellow cards. He will miss this weekend’s Ochilview clash with Montrose, his third ban already this season.
Shire will also be without Lynas, who has performed well since joining on an emergency loan from Alloa Athletic in a defensive midfield role.
The team’s recent upsurge in form had been based in part on a stable team selection and the starting line-up at Bayview was the third Saturday in succession Tully had named the same 11.
Now he will need to re-think with two important players banned and a vital game coming up for Shire who, although still bottom, could lift themselves from the foot of the table with a win.
This weekend’s opponents, unlike Shire, have been suffering from a cup hangover. After their shock defeat to Hutchison Vale/Lothian Thistle, they have failed to claim a single league point and, in their last match, lost six goals to Queen’s Park.