Shire skipper Derek Ure urged his team mates to “do better” after admitting the team’s performance in crashing out of the IRN-BRU Cup at the hands of Montrose at Ochilview on Tuesday evening was “ultimately not good enough”.
After two rousing displays against Premiership Rangers and Motherwell, hopes had been high Shire could give League 2 Annan Athletic and Montrose a fright. But, in each match, they fell way short of what was required.
Admittedly Shire were not helped by the bizarre dismissal of defensive lynchpin Scot Buist whose continued verbal outburst at referee Craig Napier almost encouraged the whistler to show him a red card.
With Buist in the dressing room after 35 minutes and Shire facing almost an hour a man down, Ure was forced to come out of midfield and play in central defence. He couldn’t be faulted but his team never recovered after an opening half hour in which they had matched Montrose blow for blow.
“The full squad know we need to do better,” said Ure afterwards. “Ultimately it’s not good enough; we should be competing against teams like Montrose if we want to do anything in this league.
“It is difficult when you go down to ten men. If I’m being honest I don’t think the ref had a great game but the ref wasn’t the reason we lost; we got beat because we made silly mistakes and because we weren’t clinical enough.”
There was nothing in the opening quarter of the match to suggest that this was going to be anything other than a tight game. Shire got on to the front foot early and Dylan McGuigan cracked a shot just wide after seven minutes. Both Paul Sludden and David Grant saw the goal open up for them too before Montrose recovered defensively to clear the danger.
But, after 28 minutes, Shire failed to close down Terry Masson in midfield and the Montrose man hit a terrific swerving shot from distance that flew past keeper Darren Dolan and into the net.
“It was a poor goal to lose”, said Ure. “It was very similar to the first Annan goal on Saturday. As a team we know what we have to work on to make it better and hopefully we can do that.”
Ironically, the loss of the goal seemed to spur Shire on. A minute after going behind Paul Sludden came close to equalising with a shot which flew across the face of goal and wide. Ure hit a free-kick the keeper did well to save and Gavin McMillan spurned a chance too.
However Buist’s prolonged outburst, despite being warned to stop or be sent-off, affected the Shire recovery.
Ure dropped back to fill the vacant central defensive position. “I’m not a centre-half but I’m more than happy to play there,” said Ure.
“Circumstances sometimes dictate you get played out of position but I maintain if I’m playing anywhere from two to eleven I’m a happier person than I would be if I was a sub.”
After the break, despite their best efforts, Shire simply couldn’t hurt Montrose or create the openings they required to get back into things. Their task was made almost impossible on the hour mark when the defence failed to cut out a low cross from the right and the ball fell nicely for Graham Webster to score from ten yards.
With just a few minutes to go Ryan Ferguson stepped off the left wing and fired in a superb shot from the angle of the box and off the underside of the crossbar for the best goal of the night. But the game was lost long before then for Shire.
Despite the reverse Ure was still upbeat. He said: “We have had a few optimistic performances and we can’t disregard that,” he said.
“And we have had a tough pre-season schedule against teams of a very high standard but it’s still got to be better.”