|7th April 2017||19:30||The South Challenge Cup||2016-17|
|Team||1st Half||2nd Half||Goals||Outcome|
SHIRE 2 CUMBERNAULD COLTS 3
There was to be no cup glory for Shire as the team’s run in this season’s SFA South Region Challenge Cup was ended by Cumbernald Colts at the Falkirk Stadium at the semi-final stage.
Despite having the lion’s share of possession and scoring chances John Sludden’s team could not break down a determined, disciplined, and committed Colts side who undid Shire’s challenge with two quality free-kicks from Jamie Broadfoot which were enough to give them a place in the final on 29th May.
Shire had three first half efforts hacked off the line and also hit the crossbar but will admit the second half display failed to hit the heights and, having levelled the scores after falling 1-0 behind, they could not launch an adequate response to going 2-1 down just before the hour mark.
Coach Sludden stuck with the team which had demolished Preston Athletic 7-1 the previous weekend but they were in trouble straight from the kick-off. Connor Greene’s challenge on Sean Brown on the edge of the box, literally the game’s first action, brought a free-kick which Broadfoot curled dangerously in to the six yard box and Sean Brown reacted faster than anyone to steer the ball into the net.
But Shire were not thrown off course by the very early setback. After three minutes Jamie Glasgow shaved the outside of Colts goalkeeper Chris Fahey’s right post with his own 20 yard free-kick and then Paul Sludden flashed a dangerous shot from just outside the box across the face of goal and wide.
Glasgow had a shot blocked and from the resulting corner Fahey palmed the ball away to avoid Greene sending a free header towards goal.
After 19 minutes, though, the Shire pressure paid off with a levelling goal. Derek Ure’s run to the box was stopped but the loose ball landed straight at Sludden who wasted no time in sending in a low 20 yard shot past Fahey into the back of the net.
After 28 minutes Colts, on a rare foray upfield, created an opening for Fraser Sheridan but he shanked his shot horribly wide of target when he looked well-placed to score.
Ure fired a 20 yard free-kick just over the Colts’ crossbar after 31 minutes and that was a prelude to an intense spell of pressure which the Colts goal was very fortunate to survive. After 34 minutes some quick feet from Steven Brisbane created the chance for a shot which he lifted over the advancing keeper but a defender’s leg hacked the ball away before it could cross the line.
Then David Grant got in behind the defence but his effort was blocked after 36 minutes and two minutes later the Shire striker was in again. This time his close-range shot looked destined to roll over the line but a sliding, desperate lunge allowed Colts to clear.
Barely a minute later Grant set up Sludden but his angled drive smashed off the Colts’ crossbar and the home pressure continued with Andy Rodgers’ ball from wide finding no takers in the middle and then Ure hit a shot from outside the box just too high.
But Shire could not keep up their attacking intent after the break and it was Colts who were first to show in the second period with a Brown overhead kick which lopped too high over Shire keeper Jamie Barclay’s crossbar.
And, after 57 minutes, Shire were hit by a sucker punch, again courtesy of a well-taken Broadfoot free-kick after Greene had committed a clumsy foul on the edge of the box. This time the Colts man fired towards goal, over the Shire wall and past Barclay’s despairing leap into the top corner of the net to give the visitors the advantage.
However, this time, there was not the same Shire response as there had been in the first period. Ure sent a free-kick just wide and a flashing header from Rodgers produced a leaping save from Fahey.
Brisbane’s low cross couldn’t find a touch in the middle which would have brought a levelling goal and then Drew Ramsay almost caught Fahey out with a cross-cum-shot that came close to sneaking in at the top corner.
But Shire were running out of time and ways to break down Colts disciplined, hard-working defence. Graeme MacGregor fired in a cross which landed at Rodgers’ feet but his shot from the 18 yard line went wide of target.
Not surprisingly, Shire committed more players to attack and, after 84 minutes, that was exploited by Colts. Broadfoot chased a long ball to the edge of the box and crossed for Brown to touch it back into the path of Fraser Sheridan who scored with a nice finish across the face of goal and into the net at the far corner.
Deep into injury-time Greene powered home a free header from Brisbane’s corner kick for Shire’s second goal but it was too little, too late.
SHIRE : Barclay, MacGregor, Ramsay, Greene, A.Grant, Brisbane, Rodgers, Ure, D.Grant, Sludden, Glasgow(Faulds 64).
CUMBERNAULD Colts : Fahey, Hunter, Fergus, Marshall, Ward, Pirie, Black, Murray, Brown, Broadfoot, Sheridan.