|18th February 2017||15:00||Ferrari Packaging Lowland League||2016-17|
|Team||1st Half||2nd Half||Goals||Outcome|
|Whitehill Welfare FC||0||0||0||Loss|
SHIRE 3 WHITEHILL WELFARE 0
Shire won a first home match of 2017 with a comprehensive 3-0 victory against Whitehill Welfare at Ochilview.
They overcame the absence of three vital components of the team to turn in a fluent and eye-pleasing display with the only post-game gripe from coach John Sludden being a wastefulness in front of goal.
The coach was forced to select an unfamiliar-looking starting eleven due to the absence of the suspended Connor Greene, Andy Rodgers, and Paul Sludden – all three considered normally indispensable.
Steven Brisbane, who had replaced Sludden at Gretna a week earlier, kept his place while there were re-calls for Liam Allison and Jamie Glasgow.
Shire were clearly intent to get in front early. So much so that they tried to engineer a shot on goal straight from kick-off with a pre-planned set play but they could not thread the ball through to David Grant on the edge of the box with what would have been the final pass.
It took time for the new-look Shire eleven to settle and it wasn’t until eleven minutes had passed that they got their first clear sight of goal when Glasgow looked poised to pounce only to see his effort deflected wide for a corner kick.
Two minutes later David Grant wriggled free of the attentions of the visiting defence but saw his shot well-saved by Whitehill Welfare keeper Bryan Young, something which was to become a recurring theme throughout the afternoon.
After 24 minutes Glasgow measured up another shot at goal but his accuracy was found lacking and his effort flew wide of the far post and three minutes later skipper Derek Ure tried a long-range shot which was well-struck but flew past the post.
David Grant and Ure again had efforts on goal but not on target as Shire tried to turn the screw and then Grant had a shot hacked off the line following yet another cross from out wide.
After 38 minutes, though, Shire broke down the Whitehill Welfare resistance. Allison’s cross from the right found Kris Faulds at the back post and he laid the ball into the path of David Grant who hit a first-time shot low into the net from six yards out.
The first action of the second half was a moment of controversy when referee Euan Anderson reduced the visitors to ten men, showing Connor McGregor a straight red card for a robust challenge on Michael Oliver.
Almost immediately Shire might have made it 2-0. Drew Ramsay’s rampaging run down the left ended with a shot which he tried to curl in at the far post but it drifted narrowly wide.
After 55 minutes David Grant forced Young into a top class diving save as the home side applied more pressure and five minutes later Glasgow fizzed a powerful shot just wide of the target.
A prominent feature of Shire’s performance had been the attacking play of both full-backs with Ramsay and Graeme MacGregor powering forward to keep up a supply of great crosses into the penalty box from wide areas.
That eventually paid dividends as Shire made it 2-0 after 65 minutes. MacGregor got free down the right and sent over a centre which missed the waiting Shire strikers but was turned into his own net by Charlie Denton.
A minute later David Grant was unfortunate not to make it 3-0 with a shot on the turn which, for once, beat Young in the Whitehill Welfare goal but then hit the post.
Young was by this stage performing heroics – diving bravely to stop Glasgow with a save at the striker’s feet and then throwing himself full-length to turn Faulds’ shot round the post for a corner.
But after 75 minutes Shire did find a third goal. Brisbane, influential in most of Shire’s creative moments throughout the game, was released down the right and he cut the ball back perfectly for the in-rushing Faulds to sweep it into the net.
Shire might have added a fourth three minutes from time but Young made a great near-post save from a powerful Glasgow shot.
SHIRE : Barclay, MacGregor, Ramsay, A.Grant, Oliver(Murray 76), Brisbane, Faulds, Ure(White 84), Allison(Hogg 66), D.Grant, Glasgow.
WHITEHILL WELFARE :Young, O’Hara, Kidd, McGregor, Manson, Healy(Brydon 73), Chalmers, Chapman, Osbourne, Denton, Russell.
|East Stirlingshire Home Ground|
|55 Gladstone Rd, Stenhousemuir, Larbert FK5, UK|