East Stirlingshire 3 Gala Fairydean 0: Shire hit 100-goal mark

East Stirlingshire have had over 100 goal celebrations this season
East Stirlingshire have had over 100 goal celebrations this season

For any senior football team in Scotland to score a hundred goals in a season these days is a rare feat.

What makes East Stirlingshire’s effort stand out all the more is that over half of their 102 goals so far have come from just two players.

It was no surprise to Shire followers that the three goals in the defeat of Gala Fairydean Rovers came courtesy of Andy Rodgers and David Grant.

Former Falkirk man Rodgers broke the deadlock after 47 minutes to take the team’s season goal tally into three figures, then Grant fired home the second to reach 30 for the season, becoming the first Shire player to reach the landmark since 1963.

Between them, Rodgers and Grant now have clocked up 59 goals for the season. For Rodgers, who had never even hit 20 in a season until this term, it’s been one to remember.

“It’s been a really good season goals-wise,” said Andy. “Granty and I seem to get on the scoresheet most weeks. But it’s a credit to the whole team for the number of chances to make.

“I think their goalie had five or six really good saves to make today. I have really enjoyed it and long may it continue.”

Rodgers also paid tribute to Grant who just edged him out in the race to 30 goals, which has been a friendly dressing room battle with the lead changing hands several times.

He said: “He’s brilliant. He does a lot of good work as well holding the ball up and bringing other people into play. But he doesn’t miss very many chances, that’s for sure.”

And yet on a day when Shire celebrated two goal scoring landmarks, a lot of time was spent fretting about the team’s inability to find the back of the net.

Shire had beaten Gala 10-1 when they travelled to Netherdale for the reverse fixture in December. But they found things a lot harder this time and there were a few anxious looks in the stand as the teams trooped off at the half-time interval with the game still goalless.

Just as concerning was the opportunities the visitors had carved out for themselves.

In fact it was Gala who made the stronger start. Darren Smith hit an early 20-yard free-kick just wide and a Stuart Noble shot on the turn forced Shire keeper Jamie Barclay into a near post save.

But John Sludden’s men did have opportunities of their own. After 16 minutes Rodgers headed a Drew Ramsay cross toward goal but his effort was saved.

David Grant then sent a Jamie Glasow cross just over the bar and the club’s leading scorer then brought a good save from visiting keeper Kieran Wright.

The interval nerves were settled, though, just two minutes after the restart. Michael Oliver’s header at the back post following a corner sent the ball across the penalty area where Steven Brisbane nodded it into the path of Rodgers, who volleyed home a powerful shot.

With the lead, Shire started to take a grip on the game and that was further cemented after 62 minutes when they grabbed a second goal.

Ramsay fed Jamie Glasgow and his left-wing cross was guided into the net by David Grant from the six yard line.

The home team might have made it 3-0 just two minutes later but Wright produced a great diving save to deny Brisbane.

In the closing stages the visitors mounted a spirited fightback and with three minutes left they thought they were back in it when Smith fired the ball into the net from 20 yards, but he was ruled offside.

In the final minute Brisbane was pulled down inside the box and Rodgers scored Shire’s third from the penalty spot.

SHIRE : Barclay, MacGregor, Ramsay, A.Grant, Oliver, Faulds, Rodgers, Ure, D.Grant, Brisbane (Greene 72), Glasgow.