Paul Sludden became the third Shire striker in three games to grab a hat-trick of goals but claimed it was co-operation and not competition among the front men that has made them the Lowland League’s top scoring team.
The five Shire rattled past Selkirk at Ochilview on Saturday took their league tally to 51 in 14 games with Sludden at last grabbing the headlines after Andy Rodgers and David Grant had taken centre stage in the last two matches.
But Sludden says there’s no rivalry between the three free-scoring forwards and no attempt to outdo each other in the scoring stakes.
“It’s great to get goals but it’s all about the team,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if I’m scoring, or if Andy or Granty are scoring, or even if the midfielders or defenders are scoring it’s just about the team getting three points and doing the best that we can.
“On a personal note, it’s great to great to get three goals but it’s more important to make sure that the team keeps on winning.”
And that’s something Shire are starting to get to grips with. After a slow start to their league campaign they have moved through the gears and are now finding full throttle.
This display was a million miles from perhaps their low point this season – an incredible 7-4 defeat at Selkirk in the reverse fixture in September. There was no question Shire were motivated at Ochilview by what happened that day at Yarrow Park and this more than made up for it.
The final outcome by no means flattered them. It could have been more but Selkirk keeper Gregor Amos and some wayward finishing kept the score down.
By contrast the only time the home goal was threatened was after 15 minutes when Jamie Barclay had to dive to tip away a long-range Ricky Miller effort for the visitors.
“We scored five goals but we also kept a clean sheet, and that’s important,” said Sludden. “But it’s good to create chances and you start to worry if you’re not creating them. Right now, though, we do look like when we go forward we can create chances at will and that’s a good thing to have in a team.
“It’s all about us working together to try and create opportunities,” he said.
It took them time to get going but once they had taken the sting out of a determined set of opponents there was no stopping Shire.
Selkirk began the game as though they meant business but it was a more resolute defence they came up against at home when they found themselves 3-0 up on Shire in the opening 15 minutes.
The visitors huffed and puffed until they ran out of breath and then Shire turned the tables on them and blew their house down without too much bother.
It did take a spectacular save from Barclay on the quarter hour to prevent ex-Shire man Miller giving Selkirk the lead. But a couple of minutes later David Grant’s header from Liam Allison’s cross hit the bar and Sludden smashed the rebound just wide.
After 24 minutes Grant played Sludden in behind the defence and he scored from ten yards to give the home team the lead. They never looked back after that.
Three minutes after the break Rodgers chased a lost cause to the goal line and crossed for Grant. When he couldn’t get the space for a shot he squared the ball to Jamie Glasgow who shot home.
After 51 minutes a laser-guided Rodgers cross from the right found Sludden unmarked at the back post and he made it 3-0 from close-range.
A similar move after 64 minutes made it 4-0. This time it was Andy Grant who fired over the cross for Rodgers who stroked the ball into the net from six yards.
A minute from the end Sludden completed his hat-trick after substitute Connor Hogg’s cross was hit straight to him by a defender six yards from goal.
SHIRE : Barclay, A.Grant, Allison, Oliver, Greene, Faulds (White 67), Rodgers, Ure (Ramsay 78), D.Grant, Sludden, Glasgow (Hogg 70).