East Stirlingshire left it late as they salvaged an unlikely 2-2 draw against Gala Fairydean Rovers at Netherdale on Saturday.
Having been dumped out of the South Region Challenge Cup last weekend at the hands of Bonnyrigg Rose it was important for Shire to bounce back against a Gala side without a win in five games. However, Dean Shanks’ side could take heart in the fact that they had won their two previous meetings with Shire this season without conceding a goal.
The opening exchanges were indicative of two sides low on confidence. However, Shire could have taken the lead through Connor Greene when he was left unmarked at the back post following a corner but could only divert his header wide of the target.
Shire were very nearly punished for that miss by Ruari Paton, but the man on loan from Hibs saw his tame effort comfortably saved by Shire skipper Jamie Barclay.
Ross Allum responded for Shire but his effort was vitally blocked on the goal line as he sought to keep touch with East Kilbride’s Craig Malcolm in the race for top scorer. However, indecisiveness in the Shire defence forced Jamie Barclay into conceding a penalty when he wiped Paton out. The Gala man stepped up to take it himself before coolly sending Barclay the wrong way to give his side the advantage.
Shire’s response was very nearly instant after the break, but Andy Rodgers’ effort was somehow scrambled off the line after hitting the inside of the post.
The Shire man’s uncharacteristically profligate finishing denied Shire an equaliser again when Rodgers failed to tap the ball home from three yards out from David McCaughie’s excellent cross.
Gala, having toiled for much of the second half, punished Shire through Phil Addison who jinked his way through the entire defence before calmly lifting the ball over the onrushing Barclay.
Addison’s fine goal seemed to finally give Shire the clinical edge they were lacking with Ross Allum heading home to give his side faint hope of an unlikely comeback.
In a remarkable turn of events Shire then equalised through a Greene header to undo all of Gala’s hard work in a matter of minutes.
Shire very nearly won it when Paul McCafferty was sent through on goal, but the winger was denied a dramatic winner by a fine Mark Walters save.
Shire will look to continue their fine end to the season when they welcome fourth place Civil Service Strollers this weekend.