Mid Annandale 0 East Stirlingshire 3: Shire safely over cup hurdle

Shire had another win and clean sheet to celebrate
Shire had another win and clean sheet to celebrate

He wasn’t trying to be greedy but East Stirlingshire striker David Grant admitted both he and his team mates could have filled their boots at Mid Annandale if they hadn’t been trying so hard to score the perfect goal.

The trip to Lockerbie in the SFA South Region Cup to face their South of Scotland League opponents ended in a routine victory for John Sludden’s men.

If the game represented a potential banana skin they saw it and avoided it without the slightest hint of bother. And if, on the other hand, the travelling faithful had expected their team to run up a rugby score then they failed, according to the club’s leading scorer, by being just too deliberate when the scoring chances came.

“We were trying to over think things in the first half,” said Grant, whose two goals in the game took his season tally to fifteen. “There were too many over hit balls over the top and the strikers didn’t have enough space. At half time the gaffer told us to cut out all the World Cup passes and get the ball moving a bit quicker and we did that.”

Sludden was without three key players in Jamie Glasgow, Andy Grant and Drew Ramsay, all out injured, and introduced new boy Liam Allison at left-back, who performed well on debut, but it did take time for the new look team to settle.

Grant’s opening strike after 15 minutes put them into the groove and they never looked back after that. The striker says he would have settled for a win even if it meant not getting on the score sheet.

“The win is the most important thing,” said Grant. “But getting a couple of goals is always good as well. I thought we were unlucky not to get a few more. Their keeper made a few good saves from me and some of the others.

“We would have been happier with a few more goals but, at the same time, we’ve kept a clean sheet and that was important too.”

Jamie Barclay was not called on too much during the game but he did spare Shire’s blushes twice in the first half. After 19 minutes he tipped Callum Smith’s shot over the bar after the lively home winger was given too much room to run and shoot.

Towards the end of the period he came out to block Smith’s shot with his legs. But he didn’t have much else to do.

At the other end home goalie Peter Crolla saw more than enough action. He was beaten by Andy Rodgers’ fifth minute shot but was saved from conceding so early as the ball smacked off the base of the post.

There was nothing he could do on the quarter hour when Paul Sludden slipped Grant clear and he rounded the keeper to score.

Two minutes later Crolloa could see the whites of Sludden’s eyes but made himself big and blocked the Shire striker’s shot.

Before the interval Crolla got down low to save good efforts from Rodgers and Connor Greene and after the interval he had to look alert to save a Kris Faulds shot.

Grant was unlucky to see an effort early in the second half go just wide after he was sent clear and that set a trend with most of Shire’s efforts after the break smashing against the wire mesh cage behind the Mid Annandale keeper’s goal.

But after 67 minutes a superb chip from Adam Murray over the top sent Grant clear and he made no mistake with a low shot after he had taken the ball wide of the keeper to find a better angle for his finish.

The efforts on the home goal increased in frequency but not in accuracy. That was until 78 minutes when Sludden’s almost casual turn inside the box gave him the time and space to complete the scoring with a fine finish into the far top corner of the net.

SHIRE : Barclay, MacGregor, Allison, Murray, Greene, White(Peddie 78), Rodgers(Hogg 79), Ure, D. Grant(McGuigan 75), Sludden, Faulds.