Andy Rodgers has had some high points in his football career but Saturday at Ochilview was what he described as a “perfect day”.
The East Stirlingshire striker scored five times in a game for the first time and the team routed South of Scotland League Newton Stewart in the third round of the SFA South Region Challenge Cup.
But it wasn’t his personal achievement that counted for so much to the 32 year-old as the overall team display.
He recognised that in the previous round against similar opponents Shire, although they won, hadn’t got things right. And this was at least a chance to set the record straight.
The trip to Mid Annadale might have yielded the same kind of return but Shire settled for 3-0 and an, at times, uncomfortable afternoon. This was different.
“In the game in the last round we were slow and we made it hard for ourselves. We made it look comfortable with a 3-0 but it was a struggle.
“If you get off to a good start you can make it hard for these teams and in the first half hour today we were unbelievable,” he said.
The Shire faithful were probably wiping their eyes as Kris Faulds put them 5-0 up after 28 minutes, and they might also have been licking their chops at the prospect of a record-breaking afternoon.
But Derek Ure’s straight red card for an ugly challenge on halfway after 37 minutes put paid to any ideas of a rugby score. The Shire skipper got what he deserved although there was a fair amount of provocation involved.
The referee levelled things up four minutes later when the visitors’ Roddy Cooksley was dismissed for his second yellow.
Nevertheless, to win 9-0 at any level is a considerable achievement and Rodgers was happy to pay tribute to the team’s display.
“It was just great to be part of it,” he said. “We were knocking the ball about, we had runners everywhere, everyone was taking part and, to be honest, they couldn’t really live with us.
“We stayed professional and never got sloppy even when we were 6-0 up. Some of the goals we scored were unbelievable and it was just a perfect day.”
They key, as Rodgers was quick to point out, was getting off to a fast start. Shire certainly managed that. There were fewer than three minutes on the clock when Ure played Faulds in behind the visiting defence and he shot home with a powerful angled drive. After seven minutes it was 2-0 as Rodgers grabbed his first of the afternoon, tapping in at the back post from point-blank range after a perfectly-judged cross from Paul Sludden.
Sludden got in on the act after 17 minutes as the roles were reversed with Rodgers playing him in for a superb half-volley finish.
The goals kept on coming. After 21 minutes it was 4-0. Sludden played a free-kick to David Grant who passed it out for Ure to run on to and smash powerfully into the far top corner.
After 28 minutes David Grant’s mazy run ended with a cut-back for Faulds to make it 5-0 from 10 yards. In amongst all of that Jamie Glasgow and Rodgers were unlucky to see shots hit the post, Liam Allison hit the side net and David Grant was denied a goal by a brilliant save.
The red cards slowed the momentum. But a foul on David Grant gave Rodgers the opportunity to make it 6-0 at half-time from the penalty spot.
Nine minutes after the break Rodgers was brought down in the box and he scored his second spot kick to complete his hat-trick.
After 74 minutes David Grant’s cross was fired into the roof of the net by Rodgers for the eighth and two minutes later Lewis Peddie’s quickly taken free-kick sent Rodgers clear to score with a superb chip over the keeper.
But double figures wouldn’t come, although Dylan McGuigan was unlucky not to make it 10-0 with his effort which struck the base of the post.
SHIRE : Barclay, A. Grant, Allison (Ramsay 61), Oliver, Greene, Faulds (Peddie 70), Rodgers, Ure, D. Grant, Sludden, Glasgow (McGuigan 61).