Shire kid Simon White is growing up fast in a man’s world.
The 17 year-old Cowie youngster was only starting his third senior game in East Stirlingshire’s 5-0 Lowland League demolition of Gretna 2008 at Ochilview but his performances get better all the time.
White’s personal improvement matched that of his team who turned in what was perhaps their best display of the season.
It was certainly their most assured at the back and that can be in no small measure due to the arrival of White as a second midfield defensive shield in front of the back four, partnering the vastly more experienced club captain, Derek Ure.
Such was Shire’s eventual domination of the game that the teenager might even have capped his overall display with a couple of goals, sending one just over the bar and crashing another off the woodwork in the second half.
After a few substitute appearances he was given his first start in the middle of September against Stirling University and admits it came as a surprise.
“It definitely was,” he said of his starting debut recently in the 4-1 win over the students. “But I thought I had done well as a substitute in the game before that and now I am trying to take it as it comes and do better in each game than I did in the previous one.”
Again, the same might apply to the Shire team as a whole. They certainly needed to be better than they had been against Spartans a week earlier and some tactical adjustments, with three strikers and the two full-backs more advanced, brought their reward against a willing set of opponents.
“The main thing was it was a good team performance,” said White. “Everyone in the squad did well and it is a squad game. I think the formation we played worked better. We kept the ball well and everyone played their part.
“It was a new system and you maybe thought it would take time for us to adjust but that didn’t seem to be the case.”
Key to Shire’s success at Ochilview this season has been to get opponents on the back foot right from kick-off. Once more they turned the screw from the first whistle with Kris Faulds hitting the post after 90 seconds, David Grant’s volley was cleared off the line after seven minutes before Grant’s neat turn and shot into the top corner after 10 minutes brought them the lead.
White might have doubled the advantage on 36 minutes but, having been presented with a golden opportunity for a first senior goal by a great Faulds pass, he blazed over from six yards.
“I just couldn’t score,” he said. “The first one I just didn’t connect and the ball went over the bar. In the second half I hit the post but I thought it was in. I connected well this time but maybe it was just one of those days where I wasn’t going to score.”
Not that it mattered a great deal to the team. There were other players who found the back of the net with ease, especially Grant who scored another hat-trick and took his season tally in the league to 14.
After his tenth minute opener Shire had chances; White shot over and Andy Rodgers then hit the post before the break with a great shot. But the failure to put them away had nerves jangling until Grant’s cut-back from wide on the right played in Paul Sludden for the second goal on 52 minutes.
After that it was a game of playground shootie-in. Faulds slipped the ball to Grant to score the third with a low angled drive after 66 minutes and two minutes later Rodgers powered a great strike past the keeper for the fourth.
Then White’s half volley hit the woodwork and Sludden forced the keeper into a great save. With seven minutes left Drew Ramsay’s run down the left ended with a cross which Grant swept into the net for his third and Shire’s fifth.
SHIRE : Barclay, MacGregor, Ramsay, A. Grant, Greene, White (Peddie 75), Rodgers, Ure (Murray 71), D.Grant, Sludden, Faulds (McGuigan 79).