It wasn’t so much the faulty way his East Stirlingshire team started the game that concerned coach John Sludden so much as the way they finished it.
Although an error-strewn first half hour at Broadwood saw Shire trail 2-0 to Cumbernauld Colts there was, at least, the hope that they could climb out of the hole they had dug for themselves.
And, thanks to the striking prowess of Andy Rodgers and David Grant, they did just that and, with 12 minutes to go, a double from Rodgers and a header from Grant had Sludden’s men 3-2 up.
And that should have been that. But Shire wouldn’t do what they should have done – either go for more goals or take the ball to the attacking corner flag and stand on it.
Instead they gifted Colts possession in much the same way they had in the first half hour. That created pressure and, after 87 minutes, Colts substitute Jamie Barclay took advantage to fire home the equaliser from the edge of the box.
“It was two points dropped,” said Sludden afterwards. “We threw it away. We didn’t start the game correctly but we did well to get the game back to 3-2.
“But then we let ourselves down by not managing the game correctly.”
Sludden was left frustrated by his team’s reversion to the mistakes of the first phase of the match after he thought they had sorted themselves out.
“We just couldn’t keep hold of the ball for the last five minutes and that cost us in the end. If we had played the game correctly we might have gone on and scored another goal but we got sloppy and we didn’t defend well at their [third] goal.”
He wasn’t even taking any comfort from getting a point from a game which Shire had trailed at one stage by 2-0. He knew that they should have held on to the lead they had worked so hard to establish from a very unpromising situation.
“Sometimes a team might be happy with a point from 2-0 down, but that’s not us,” he said.
Nevertheless the Shire faithful who travelled in good numbers to Cumbernauld were more than slightly anxious after watching their team fall well behind.
They looked sluggish from the start although Graeme MacGregor was unlucky not to give Shire a 17th minute lead with a great 20 yard shot that smacked off the Colts’ crossbar.
Their frailty was exposed, though, four minutes later when the home team’s Stephen O’Neill was allowed all the space he needed to play a nice 1-2 pass and then unleash a curling shot over the diving Jamie Barclay in the Shire goal and into the net.
It might have been worse not long after when Colts broke quickly and Sean Brown tried to fire home at the near post but Barclay saved.
However, on the half hour, Shire gave the ball away carelessly on halfway and Colts launched a rapid counter-attack which Brown finished with a nice angled finish to make it 2-0.
Shire’s saving came from Andy Rodgers who gave them just what they needed, a goal back only three minutes later with a nice shot from inside the box after Colts failed to clear a free-kick.
The visitors commanded the second half and after 69 minutes Rodgers was brought down in the box by keeper Chris Fahey and scored the penalty himself to bring the scores level.
Sludden’s men now looked the likely winner and when Grant headed home Paul Sludden’s left-wing cross after 78 minutes it looked as though they would claim the three points.
But, with three minutes to go, the home team worked an overlap on the right to gave Barclay a clear chance to shoot past his namesake for the leveller.
SHIRE : Barclay, A.Grant, Ramsay, Greene, Oliver, MacGregor, Rodgers, Ure, D.Grant, Faulds, Glasgow (Sludden 61).