Shire KO top placed Hearts
East Stirlingshire progressed to the next round of the South Region Challenge Cup on Saturday with a hard fought 3-2 win at home to Lowland League rivals Kelty Hearts.
Shire, having put their league woes to bed last week in a stunning seven goal thriller away to Civil Service Strollers, were looking to beat a side that arrived at The Falkirk Stadium having recently parted company with their manager, Tam Courts.
Kelty and Courts may have parted ways during the week, but that was in no part due to poor form – with the visitors coming into this cup tie on the back of 16 points from a possible 18 in the league, a run which seens them sitting top of the Lowland League table.
The Fifers had also beaten Shire in the league, when Derek Ure’s reign was still in it’s infancy, with a 2-0 victory at the start of September. The hope was, though, that their spirits would have been knocked by the departure of their successful boss.
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However, any notion of that was gone when Shire stopper Jamie Barclay punched the ball directly out to Ciaren Chalmers who promptly gave his side the lead within just two minutes, writes Ewan Malcolm.
Kelty were in no hurry to see their lead slip and set about extending it through Stephen Husband, who saw his thunderous shot from outside the box cannon off the crossbar.
Shire were unable to find a way through Kelty’s resilient backline despite dominating the remainder of the half and went into the break one goal down.
Derek Ure’s side started the second half as they had finished the first, on the front foot, and were very nearly rewarded when Stephen Brisbane broke clear of the Kelty backline to find himself bearing down on goal but could not find the composure to net a crucial equaliser.
Brisbane, not to be disheartened, atoned for his earlier wastefulness when he spotted the run of Paul McCafferty and duly provided him with an excellent defence splitting pass which the Shire winger drilled home.
The relentless Shire attacks told when Rodgers found himself in the fortunate position to prod the ball into the back of the net after a goalmouth scramble had ensued in the Kelty box – an ugly goal but one the home side fully deserved.
Rodgers added another shortly after when he collected the ball in the box before unleashing a low left footed drive that nestled in the bottom corner of the net to give the home side breathing space.
Kelty did their best to make sure the final moments of the game were uncomfortable viewing for Shire fans when Stuart Cargill pulled one back for the visitors although it proved to be a mere consolation as they succumbed to defeat.
Both sides will be encouraged by their performances as they turn their focus towards next week’s Scottish Cup where Shire play Gala Fairydean Rovers and Kelty head north to take on League Two side Peterhead.
Shire were beaten 3-0 by Gala just three weeks ago, but will hope to get revenge on the borderers in the same fashion as they did Kelty on Saturday.