East Stirlingshire survived a late scare against ‘managerless’ Gretna 2008 as they claimed all three points in a 2-1 victory at a waterlogged Raydale Park.
Shire’s fortunes had taken a turn for the better in recent weeks, as they bounced back from a disappointing 2-0 loss to league leaders East Kilbride with two draws and a comeback victory against Edinburgh University in their last match.
Gretna, on the other hand, came into the match having taken a severe knock to their confidence after being hammered 5-0 by East Kilbride a fortnight ago.
MATCH REPORT: Falkirk 2 ICT 2 Shire’s nerves were eased early on when they deservedly took the lead through Andy Rodgers who reacted quickest to tap home the opener after Ross Allum had failed to round Ross Atkinson in the Gretna goal.
Rodgers’ opener was the first time Shire had taken the lead in a league game since a 3-1 victory away to Edusport Academy in early December and the effect on the visitor’s confidence was evident as they went in pursuit of a second.
Paul McCafferty, Ross Allum and Andy Rodgers all went close to extending Shire’s lead, but a combination of profligate finishing and extreme conditions prevented the visitors from doubling their advantage before half time.
MATCH REPORT: Stenhousemuir 1 Airdrie 0
Shire’s intensity didn’t drop after the break with McCafferty and David McCaughie both threatening early in the second half. However, with conditions deteriorating due to strong winds and heavy rain, Shire stuggled to make the vital breakthrough despite their clear dominance.
Perhaps it was no surprise then, that Shire doubled their lead with an immense slice of luck with Atkinson initially gathering Rodgers’ speculative effort before stepping behind the goal line with the ball still in his clutches.
Shire’s bizarre second seemed to spark the hosts into life as they forced Jamie Barclay into making some fine saves to deny Gretna a route back into the game.
Gretna’s late revival seemed to grow more likely after Emmanuel Bitanga fired beyond his own goalkeeper to make the final moments uncomfortable viewing for Shire’s travelling support.
However, Gretna’s fightback, much like most of the second half, was derailed by the extreme conditions that stifled most of the attacking play. A second consecutive victory for Shire moves them above Gala Fairydean Rovers into seventh place with a visit to Whitehill Welfare next weekend presenting a very good opportunity for Shire to continue their march up the table.