East Stirlingshire’s seven game unbeaten run was ended in dramatic fashion as they succumbed to a 4-3 defeat at the hands of Civil Service Strollers on Friday night.
Ross Guthrie’s late strike ensured Strollers were on the right side of the 4-3 score line this time round having lost out in similarly dramatic circumstances at Christie Gillies Park.
IN PICTURES: East Stirlingshire 3 Civil Service Strollers 4
Shire could take confidence prior to the game with the knowledge that that they had been unbeaten in their last five meetings with Strollers. However, Jordan Hopkinson gave his side the perfect start in their efforts to end their Shire hoodoo.
David Churchill pounced on Connor Greene’s indecisiveness to draw a good save from Barclay, but the Shire captain could only parry the ball into the path of Hopkinson who made no mistake in firing his side into the lead.
Churchill couldn’t believe his luck shortly after when he doubled his side’s advantage after slack Shire defending left him in acres of space to fire beyond Barclay.
A rare mix up in the Strollers’ backline produced a lifeline for Shire with Ross Allum winning a penalty after being upended in the box. Paul McCafferty duly stepped up to fire his side back into the game before half time.
Despite McCafferty’s goal, Shire could thank the crossbar for denying Strollers a third and some much-needed breathing space after two breakaways nearly ended the home side’s resistance.
Strollers’ misfortune seemed to cost them dearly shortly after when Andy Grant rose highest to nod Scott Gray’s corner into the back of the net to level the score line. Shire’s elation was cut short, however, when Andrew Mair’s teasing delivery was met by Church who powered an unstoppable header back across goal to silence the home fans.
Derek Ure’s decision to introduce David McCaughie was vindicated when the Shire winger nipped in front of Strollers’ defence before poking in the equaliser.
However, Guthrie ensured there would be one last twist in a fixture that is fast becoming one of the most exciting in the league when he slotted home the winner after Shire had failed to clear their lines.
Derek Ure now faces the difficult challenge of keeping his side motivated for the rest of the season starting with a visit to tenth place Vale of Leithen next weekend.
However, news of Shire’s significantly boosted player budget for next season is sure to renew optimism among fans who have watched their side struggle to find title challenging consistency.