There have been times this season when East Stirlingshire keeper Jamie Barclay’s been the loneliest man on the pitch so little has he had to do.
On Saturday, against Dalbeattie Star, though, he had plenty of friends praising his man of the match display that made sure Shire’s winning run in the league continued.
The former Falkirk and Scotland under-21 goalie pulled off three superb second half saves that, in all reality, spared a listless and disjointed Shire a fourth Lowland League defeat this season.
He even started the move which ended with Connor Greene firing home the game winning goal more than a minute into injury-time.
It was one of those days for the big keeper, one which he readily admits have been few and far between this season.
“There have been many games where I don’t think I’ve even touched the ball,” he said afterwards. “There have been other times where I might have made one save, albeit at a good time, But I haven’t been over-worked.
“Today was the one day where I did have a bit to do. Don’t get me wrong, I’d much rather have days where I don’t touch the ball and we win 3-0 but it is sometimes nice to think that you have played a part in the game.”
And a big part it was too. Shire struggled for the first period against a Dalbeattie Star team one place above them in the pre-match league table.
But John Sludden’s men, for all their troubles, did have an interval lead when Andy Rodgers converted a 41st minute penalty kick after Greene had been pushed in the back at a corner kick.
However, it was Barclay who did more than anyone after the break to make sure Shire stayed in the game as the visitors set about trying to retrieve the situation.
After 52 minutes he threw himself across the face of his own goal to push away Joe Slattery’s net-bound near post shot. Two minutes later Slattery’s flashing header from Steven Degnan’s free-kick had Barclay arching his back to tip the effort over the bar.
There was nothing he could do a minute later though when James Baty fired a penalty kick past Barclay after Derek Ure fouled Degnan inside the six yard box.
But Barclay, just after the hour, made sure Shire didn’t fall behind in the game, making a full-length diving save from Lewis Todd’s shot for the visitors.
“It was 1-0 when I made the first couple of saves and I thought we were going to kick on from there,” said Barclay. “I don’t really know why the penalty was given, but the saves came at important times but thankfully we held on to get the win.”
For all their troubles Shire did show a praiseworthy determination to keep on going and look for a way to win the game. The longer it went on the more they started to dominate.
But both Paul Sludden and top scorer David Grant shanked efforts wide of target when well-placed and when visiting keeper Vinny Parker pulled off his own great save to deny David Grant inside the last five minutes it did look like Shire’s winning run in the league would end.
But Barclay launched a free-kick from inside his own half, Rodgers played the ball in, Sludden flicked on inside the box and Greene was on hand to smash home the winner in the first added on minute.
“It’s probably the first time in the league when we’ve been in that situation,” said Barclay. “Normally we are in control of a game by that point but it’s good where you need to battle it out and you can still get the result,” he said.
SHIRE : Barclay, Murray, Allison, A. Grant, Greene, Faulds, Rodgers, Ure, D. Grant, Sludden, Glasgow.