University clip the wings of high-flying Shire at Ochilview

Shire boss John Sludden
Shire boss John Sludden

From hitting the highs East Stirlingshire plunged to the depths after Tuesday’s 1-0 Lowland League defeat at the hands of Edinburgh University at Ochilview.

Only ten days earlier John Sludden’s men had dished out the biggest ever defeat to reigning champions East Kilbride with a 5-0 victory at K Park.

But, despite their best efforts, Shire could not break down the students who played defensively and with discipline. And when it looked they would have to settle for a draw something worse happened when Mark Gair got on the end of a quick counter-attack to grab a 92nd minute winner for the visitors.

Shire started the game as though they meant business and early on Kris Faulds whizzed a shot just past the post. But the home team’s early menace faded, although they still hogged possession as the university team sat in to defend in depth.

Towards the end of the period skipper Derek Ure fired in a long-range shot which was saved by the keeper and Liam Allison also came close.

The longer the game went on, though, the less likely it looked that Shire would find the back of the net.

Andy Rodgers did get a sight of goal but he was carefully shepherded by the massed ranks of the Edinburgh University defence to a position where he could do less damage and the chance was gone.

The visitors’ main concern had been simply not to lose and it was successful enough by the later stages of the game that they upped their efforts to try and snatch the win.

Jamie Barclay made one great save to keep the students out, but in the closing few minutes they were given enough space to exploit on the counter- attack as Shire committed bodies forward.

It was on the last of these rare forays upfield, as time had almost run out, that some quick passing and space in behind the home defence allowed Gair to pounce for the winner.

Shire must now pick themselves up and travel the short distance to face Cumbernauld Colts on Saturday.

The last clash of the teams saw Colts deny Shire a place in the South Region Cup final with a deserved 3-2 victory, and Colts also had the better of last season’s 3-3 league draw at Broadwood.