|11th March 2017||15:00||The South Challenge Cup||2016-17|
|Team||1st Half||2nd Half||Goals||Outcome|
SHIRE 3 TYNECASTLE 2
Shire engineered a come-from-behind victory to secure their place in the last four of this season’s SFA South Region Challenge Cup but not before East of Scotland League side Tynecastle gave them a massive fright at The Falkirk Stadium.
A combination of missed scoring opportunities and a dogged set of opponents meant the end result was a bit too close for comfort for John Sludden’s team although Shire did show the necessary will to win to recover from 2-1 down midway through the second half.
The coach was missing suspended club captain Derek Ure and decided to change both personnel and formation, with 18 year-old Simon White making his first start since September while Paul Sludden was recalled to the starting eleven for the first time since January. Jamie Glasgow made way and was named among the substitutes.
Not for the first time this season, Shire tried to catch their opponents out with a scoring chance straight from kick-off. This time Andy Rodgers launched a shot from the half way line but visiting keeper Ross McMullen was alert to the danger and made a comfortable catch.
The visitors were clearly not there just to make up the numbers and they probed for an opening in the early stages but Ryan Mayer’s effort from 20 yards was just wide of the target, hitting the back goal stanchion.
After nine minutes, though, came the first of a catalogue of real scoring opportunities that Shire were to rue the longer the game went on. David Grant raced onto a long Jamie Barclay clearance which Rodgers had flicked into his path and tried to roll the ball cross the face of goal and in at the far corner from a tight angle, but it hit the post and was cleared.
However that was only a prelude for what was to come. Two minutes later Drew Ramsay crossed low into the box from the left and although Robbie McIntyre half-cleared the ball his effort was straight at Grant who shot past the keeper from the 18 yard line to give Shire the early lead.
White then tried his luck from long range after a neat piece of build-up play but shot wide and Kris Faulds forced McMullen into a save low at the keeper’s near post.
Rodgers was then given a clear sight of goal after Sludden had dispossessed Willie Mitchell but the Shire striker’s shot was straight at McMullen who saved comfortably enough.
After 23 minutes Rodgers played David Grant through but with only the keeper to beat his shot was saved by McMullen’s outstretched leg and although the Shire striker collected the rebound he could only turn it into the side-netting.
Barely a minute later Grant again got in behind the defence and this time unselfishly passed to Rodgers but he shot wide from just inside the box with the goal gaping.
Shire’s misses in front of goal meant time was marching on without being able to build on the early advantage and that gave Tynecastle hope. Antonio Brkić tried his luck with a 20 yarder that sailed over Jamie Barclay’s crossbar but the visitors were getting bolder in attack.
And after 27 minutes the Shire misses did come back to haunt them when some nice passing sent Ross Mayer clear inside the box and he shot low past Barclay for the equalising goal.
It might have been worse. Martyn Robinson’s cross almost found Calvin Mutitt at the back post but he could not get his head on the ball when the slightest of touches might have brought a goal. Then Brkić had another go from just outside the box but his effort was smothered by Barclay.
But Shire ought still to have been back in front before the interval. David Grant again got in behind but, once more with only McMullen to beat he tried a lob but didn’t put enough elevation on the ball and the keeper saved.
The chances for Shire to score more goals came thick and fast at the start of the second period. Sludden shot wide from 18 yards with a clear sight of goal and then Rodgers somehow fired wide of an empty net after being played in by David Grant.
Barely a minute later Rodgers returned the favour but Grant’s 25 yarder hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced back out into play. When Sludden then hit a swerving effort just wide of the far top corner of the net it looked as though Shire were fated not to score again.
Shire’s frustration was summed up when David Grant raced clean through on goal only to have his jersey almost pulled completely off his back inside the box by Michael Catlin but the referee chose to ignore the pleas for a penalty kick.
Tynecastle made the most of their numerous lives. After 62 minutes some nice skill from Mayer allowed Robinson to race into the box and fire low across goal. Dean Crabbe, despite almost completely missing his kick, got enough on it to deceive the Shire defence and the ball rolled into the net to give the visitors the lead.
However, just 60 second later, Shire had their second goal. A David Grant pass played Rodgers in on goal and he chipped the advancing keeper cleverly, and with enough power, to find the back of the net.
Then, just to prove they weren’t out of it, Tynecastle substitute Jack Cowan played a ball across the face of goal but could find no takers when a tap-in would have given them the lead again.
The game was decided with just six minutes left. Barclay’s huge clearance was misjudged by Catlin and that allowed Sludden to pounce, getting in behind the defence to score with a low shot past the stranded keeper.
In injury-time McMullan then pulled off a great save from Sludden to stop him adding a fourth goal.
SHIRE : Barclay, Oliver, Ramsay, Greene, A.Grant, MacGregor, Rodgers(Allison 86), White(Glasgow 69), D.Grant, Sludden, Faulds.
TYNECASTLE : McMullen, Ross, McIntyre, Ferguson, Catlin, Mitchell, Mutitt, Robinson, Crabbe, Mayer, Brkić.