A burst of three goals in the space of just nine second half minutes gave Shire the club’s first-ever Lowland League victory in the second match of the 2016/17 season at Whitehill Welfare’s Ferguson Park.
But the scoreline did not tell the full story of a game which could still have gone either way until Derek Ure buried a 25 yard free-kick into the home net with 20 minutes left.
Until that point Whitehill Welare, managed by former Shire striker Stevie Hislop, had given the team a very uncomfortable afternoon despite conceding the game’s opening goal to Jamie Glasgow less than 90 seconds after kick-off.
The home side twice scored equalising goals to go in level at 2-2 at the break and, for the opening few minutes of the second half, as Shire adjusted to the loss of key defender Scot Buist through injury, they seized the initiative.
Dean Shaw and the Shire back line had to defend bravely and when Ure curled his free-kick over the defensive wall and into the net there was some relief mixed into the celebration.
And Shire were not going to lose the initiative again. After 75 minutes Paul Sludden rolled a perfect pass into the path of Glasgow who guided his shot into the net at the far post to make it 4-2.
Four minutes later Glasgow turned provider jinking past his man on the left wing before crossing for David Grant, unmarked in the centre, to tap the ball over the line.
The scoring might not have been over then, though. Substitute Adam Murray was denied by a great save from home keeper Bryan Young and Glasgow would have had his hat-trick late on but for a desperate goal line clearance.
But any more scoring would have been tough luck on Welfare who had contributed their fair share to an entertaining encounter.
Coach John Sludden certainly rung the changes after the previous week’s disappointing 2-2 home draw against Vale of Leithen. Ross Fisher was absent after leaving the club in midweek but also out of the starting eleven went Kris Faulds, Gavin McMillan and Dylan McGuigan, replaced by Graeme MacGregor, Connor Hogg and Jamie Glasgow.
Shire got off to the best possible start, finding the back of the net just 75 seconds after kick-off. Glasgow, ever the opportunist, curled a free-kick from wide on the left towards the near post and it beat Young after brushing home defender Connor McGregor’s back.
But the goal didn’t settle Shire at all. Instead Welfare powered back and put the visitors’ goal under pressure with a flurry of dangerous corner kicks.
From one flag kick after 14 minutes John Hall powered a header towards goal which Shire keeper Shaw was at full stretch to keep out. Andy Martin was first to react to the rebound and he shot low into the corner of the net for an equaliser.
Shire did not take long to get back on to the front foot and after 17 minutes Hogg saw his effort fly just wide of the far post from the edge of the box and just two minutes later a great Scot Buist pass sent Paul Sludden in behind the defence.
Young did well to save the striker’s initial effort but the rebound fell nicely for Sludden and he made no mistake from the rebound to make it 2-1.
After 28 minutes David Grant was clean through with just the keeper to beat but was thwarted by Young’s brave diving save at his feet.
Shire were left to rue that miss after 36 minutes when Welfare equalised for a second time and, once more, Hall and Martin combined to provide it, the striker diving full-length to head home the full-back’s right-wing cross for his second of the match.
There was a real blow for Shire almost on half-time when Buist went off injured to be replaced by Adam Murray.
The home team began the second period strongly and forced another succession of corner kicks. The Shire defending was in-depth for a period but they held firm with Shaw only having one real save to make.
However, Welfare did miss one glorious chance to take the lead when John Williams sent a free header wide of the target at the back post from a corner.
At the other end David Grant sent his own header wide from Hogg’s cross and for a while the game see-sawed from end-to-end. That was until the 70th minute and Ure’s free-kick which moved things decisively Shire’s way.
WHITEHILL WELFARE : Young, Hall, O’Hara, Murray, Williams, McGregor(Dodds 73)., Manson(Brydon 82), Martin, Connolly, Keane, Osbourne(Moffat 65).
SHIRE : Shaw, MacGregor, A. Grant, Buist(Murray 44), Greene, Comrie(Rodgers 65), Hogg(McGuigan 60), Ure, D. Grant, Sludden, Glasgow.