Derek Ure’s East Stirlingshire rebuild continued to take shape as his side ran riot 9-1 against a helpless Gretna 2008 side at Falkirk Stadium on Saturday.
Shire fans had reason to be optimistic after a 4-0 dismantling of Edinburgh University in midweek buoyed a team that had, in truth, looked average in their 1-1 draw with BSC Glasgow.
The signs were ominous for a Gretna outfit yet to pick up their first points of the season having suffered back to back defeats in their opening two fixtures of the Lowland League.
The home side, and particularly Bobby Barr, continued where they had left off from Wednesday night by forcing the desperate visitors into similarly desperate challenges in the opening exchanges.
However, despite Barr’s flashes of brilliance early on, it was Jamie Dishington who provided Shire with the attacking quality they were looking for when his inch perfect cross set up Matty Flynn for the opener.
Bobby Barr and Mark Millar have already made a habit of tormenting opposition defences with their seemingly telepathic link up play. The double act was at it again when Millar released Barr into the Gretna box before the winger rifled the ball into the back of the net to give his side breathing room.
Barr added another goal to his Shire tally when a combination of slack Gretna defending, and more scintillating attacking play left Cameron James-Copeland helpless in his efforts to deny the former Dumbarton winger a second of the afternoon.
If the Gretna keeper had been helpless to prevent Barr’s brilliance earlier, the opposite was true when he let Nicky Low’s rather hopeful shot squirm underneath his arms and with it, any hope of his side saving face.
Callum Duke-Smith’s goal at the start of the second half seemed to stem the tide of relentless Shire attacks and, for a moment at least, gave the visitors hope of salvaging a respectable result.
However, with 60 minutes gone, Flynn, Dishington and a Millar Brace comprised a ten-minute blitz to forget for Chris Humphrey’s side as Shire rediscovered their attacking prowess.
The scoring was rounded off 15 minutes later when Martin Orr finished off a fine passage of attacking play to cap Shire’s most impressive display under Derek Ure.
Assistant boss Andy Rodgers told Shire TV: “It was excellent, exactly what we asked of them. From the first minute we were on the front foot and creative, some of the football we played was a joy to watch. Everybody chipped in with goals and that’s what you want early in the season. It’s not often you say 9-1 flatters a team but it could have been anything.”
Shire can expect a tougher test when they travel to face Bonnyrigg Rose next weekend.