Blair Atkinson’s 80th minute strike for Spartans denied East Stirlingshire a final home win of the Lowland League season in a keenly contested 1-1 draw at Falkirk Stadium.
Derek Ure’s side had rediscovered their goalscoring form in recent weeks with back to back wins against Vale of Leithen and Whitehill Welfare respectively.
However, a visit of Spartans posed a much more daunting prospect with the Ainslie Park outfit winning the reverse fixture 4-3.
It was perhaps a good time to face Douglas Samuel’s side though, after poor results in their last two outings produced a solitary point.
The opening exchanges were indicative of two sides very much focused on a title push for next season. However, a flurry of freekicks conceded by both sides threatened to add a touch of
excitement to an otherwise drab opening half.
With both side’s content to play out the rest of the first half in a manner more akin to a training match it was difficult to envisage the second springing any surprises.
However, the contrast in intensity was made blatantly clear from the off with Steven Brisbane’s teasing delivery across the face of the Spartan’s goal narrowly evading everyone in black and white hoops.
Spartans, visibly shaken by the change in tempo, responded with a little pressure of their own with Atkinson agonisingly close to connecting to Gary Cennerazzo’s deflected cross.
Ure had seen enough. With the scores still level he saw fit to introduce perennial fan favourite and assistant manager Andy Rodgers to give Shire the attacking spark they had been bereft of.
The decision paid off when Shire were awarded a penalty. Rodgers, as if there was any doubt, stepped up and comfortably swept his side into the lead, scoring his 110 th Shire goal in the process.
Shire’s good work was undone moments later when a rare mistake from Steven Smith allowed Atkinson, who had scored a hattrick in the reverse fixture, the time and space to fire Spartans level.
Shire, desperate to end their home league campaign on a win, pushed for a winner. They almost got it through an almighty stramash in the Spartans penalty box, but a combination of defensive heroics and wasteful finishing ensured the points were shared.
Ure will be hoping to cap an indifferent season for Shire with a win in their final league outing against BSC Glasgow next time out.