JAMIE STEVENSON SIGNS

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East Stirlingshire FC  is delighted to announce the signing of Morton midfielder Jamie Stevenson.

Jamie spent a successful five months on loan to Shire last season and he became a top target for coach Jim McInally after his release by the Cappielow club.

“We maybe had to push the boat out a bit to get Jamie but we all know how good a player he is after his spell here last season,” said the Shire coach.

“He had other offers but it says a lot for the people here that we made an impression on him last season. The supporters and the backroom staff really make players feel wanted and that can sometimes count for a lot,” he said.

For his part, Jamie says the fact that he had built up a relationship with the team while on loan was a crucial factor.

“Obviously, you have to look after yourself financially, but apart from that the fact that I  knew so many of the players already helped make the decision.

“I enjoyed last season and was disappointed we didn’t win promotion through the play-offs, so maybe there is a bit of unfinished business there,” he said.

The coach has also obtained the signature of former Airdrie United forward, Stephen McGuire.

Stephen was released at the end of last season having made 16 First Division appearances for the Lanarkshire club.

“He was with Motherwell as a kid and I always admired him when we used to play them when I  was coach of Celtic’s youth team,” he said.

“He played quite a few games for Airdrie United but he had those chances limited when they ended up in a relegation dogfight and had to go a bit more defensive.

“Stephen is a really clever player who I  think will be a big success this season.”

FRIENDLY WIN

Shire scored a 2-0 victory over Second Division Brechin City in a closed-door friendly match on Saturday afternoon.

An own goal and a super strike from Craig Donaldson had the team two goals to the good before the interval.

Both clubs fielded strong sides in what was little more than an early season work out.

“I was pleased with the performance,” said coach Jim McInally. “I thought the players looked fit and a win is a nice boost for morale as well.”

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Shire coach Jim McInally says he would prefer to find some opponents to play rather than have a blank Saturday this weekend.

But teams willing to give Shire a game seem thin on the ground.

“Brechin City had agreed to a bounce game on Saturday but they have unfortuntely had to pull out of the arrangement,” said Jim.

If no opponents can be found then the first team squad will be put through an extra training session.

“I am not too disappointed by the international break,” said the coach. “It gives us an extra week to get players like Simon Lynch and Michael Bolochoweckyj ready for the Queen’s Park game.

“Both are a bit short of match fitness and three extra training sessions before the next competitive match will do them both good.”

SHIRE 2 ANNAN ATHLETIC 1

Annan Athletic became the latest side to feel the force of the Shire recovery in the second quarter of the season. It’s now six games without defeat for the Firs Parkers who have improved their league position, and now sit just a couple of points off the play-off positions.

The final scoreline of 2-1 makes it seem like a close game. But Shire will argue they should have secured the victory long before Brian Graham gave them a 72nd minute lead.

Chance after chance came and went and after Lee Hoolickin had given Annan the lead against the run of play on 40 minutes some wondered if Shire’s luck was out.

But an equaliser from Colin Cramb settled the nerves and that created an atmosphere which made Graham’s goal not only possible, but highly likely.

Jim McInally named the same starting eleven that had won so impressively at Forfar at the weekend. That meant Derek Ure, suspended for the trip to Station Park, had to make do with a place on the substitutes bench.

Shire, hoping to extend their unbeaten run to six matches, were keen to make the early running and after 11 minutes Craig Donaldson cracked in a 20 yard drive which flew just wide of the keepers’ left-hand post.

Nine minutes later Andy Rodgers made some space for a shot just inside the box but he lofted it high over the bar. The homesters continued the pressure but their aim left a lot to be desired. After 23 minutes a Donaldson corner caused chaos in the Annan box but Rodgers couldn’t direct his header anywhere nears goal.

Shire then had a lucky escape at the other end when Annan’s Graham Bell broke clear but his shot was too close to Jamie Barclay who held onto it well. And still Shire piled forward in search of the opening goal.

Gary Kelly will feel he should have done better with a shot from the edge of the box which Summersgill in the Annan goal saved but couldn’t hold. The Shire strikers will also reflect on the fact that they hadn’t followed up the fumble.

But the most glaring miss came on 37 minutes. David Dunn’s delightfully-flighted free-kick was matched by Cramb’s run which beat the offside trap and left him with a free header on goal. Unfortunately, his effort was thwarted by a fine sprawling save from Simmersgill.

All the possession and chances but no goals left Shire vulnerable to the sucker punch, and that happened on 40 minutes. Craig Tully fouled Bell outside the box and Lee Hoolickin struck the resulting free-kick brilliantly past Barclay.

Shire changed things by taking off Dunn and bringing on Ure a minute before the interval, and ten minutes after the break there were two more substitutions with Hay and Kelly making way for Marc McKenzie and Brian Graham giving them extra fire power.

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And the substitutions paid dividends within a minute. With 56 minutes on the clock Rodgers collected the ball out wide and played it into the box. It was helped on its way by McKenzie to Cramb who was able to side foot it into the back of the net from six yards out.

By that stage Shire were well on top and should have made their superiority tell after 63 minutes when Rodgers played Cramb clean through on goal. Unfortunately, the striker failed to connect properly and the chance was gone.

Graham was also starting to have an influence on the game. A minute after Cramb’s chance he was played in on goal but his attempt to lob the ball over Summersgill wasn’t high enough and the Annan keeper could bat the ball away to safety with his hand.

Annan were still capable of reminding Shire that they were still in the match and Bell did that effectively with a thunderous shot from long-range that Barclay did very well to tip over the bar for a fruitless corner kick.

The home nerves were eased after 72 minutes. Barclay’s long clearance from hand was flicked into Rodgers’ path by Cramb, and he in turn played a great ball through for Graham. The substitute drew Summersgill in the Annan goal before rolling the ball past him from ten yards into the net.

Annan, to their credit, kept trying to get back into the match and threw players forward in an attempt to retrieve things. Shire had to endure more than a few nervy moments as the game came to a conclusion but they were not to be denied a valuable three points.

SHIRE : Barclay, Hay(Graham 56), Dunn(Ure 45), Forrest, Bolochoweckyj, Tully, Donaldson, Kelly(McKenzie 56), Cramb, Richardson, Rodgers.

ANNAN ATHLETIC : Summersgill, Brown, Inglis, Townsley, Neilson, Jack, Sloan, Jardine(Cameron 76), Bell, Dunbar(Watson 56), Hoolickin(Johnstone 83).

REFEREE : Colin Brown

ATTENDANCE : 343.

SHIRE GO ON CUP TIE NAP

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Shire ended a 23 year wait for Scottish Cup victory over another league team with a handsome, and deserved, 5-1 third round win at Albion Rovers.

Gordon Wylde’s side took the lead through Gary Kelly’s 19th minute penalty and never looked back. Derek Ure’s superb strike on 35 minutes doubled the advantage but the turning point came just before half-time when Rovers’ Barry Donald was sent-off for aiming a kick at Craig Donaldson.

On the stroke of half-time Joe Savage scored the third and, midway through the second period, skipper Andrew Brand made it 4-0.

John Gemmell pulled one back for Rovers bur Donaldson put the icing on the cake with a fifth two minutes from the end.

Afterwards a beaming Shire coach said the result was beyond his wildest dreams.

“We thought it would be a close game beforehand because Rovers are a difficult team to play against.

“But our team was up for the challenge. I  knew before the game we had better players than Rovers but one thing you always get with them is a hard battle, so we knew it wouldn’t be easy.

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“The conditions and the pitch weren’t the best but we got off to a good start with the penalty.

“The second goal settled us down but there was no way even then we were thinking we had the game in the bag. We came here earlier in the season and were 2-0 down before winning 3-2, so there was no complacency.

“The sending-off changed the game and scoring so soon after the red card did ease the pressure a bit, but Rovers, to their credit, kept on coming at us.

“It was a great win in the end and I am so happy for everyone, especially the supporters, who give us tremendous backing everywhere we go. They don’t often get much to cheer aboutso I  hope they go out and celebrate this one.”

The victory was the first against anothe league team since 1984/85 season when Dunfermline Athletic were beaten 1-0.

It was also Shire’s biggest Scottish Cup win in more than 60 years, equalling the 5-1 home win over Clachnacuddin in 1946/47 season.

To read a full match report on the game click on ‘fixtures’ on the menu bar then click again on the scoreline.

Subscribers to shireTV can now watch Post Match, with reaction to the game from both sides.

Extensive match highlights are now available on shireTV.

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Shire will kick off the new campaign by facing Ayr Utd in the First Round of the Challenge Cup.

Due to Stenhousemuir also being drawn at home in this round, Shire will play this game on Sunday 27th July with a 3:00pm Kick Off.

Fans are urged to come along to the first game of the season and get behind the boys as they try to emulate the successful Challenge Cup run of last season.

Last year saw Shire dispose of Dumbarton and 2nd Division Queen’s Park before eventually succumbing to Greenock Morton, managed at the time by a familiar face in current Shire boss Jim McInally.

Remember the only way you can guarantee your place at Shire’s home matches next season is to purchase a season ticket!

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SHIRE END WAIT FOR CUP WIN

East Stirlingshire’s six year wait for a win in any of the three national cup competitions is over.

The fact that both Shire and Dumbarton both fielded what amounted to reserve teams in their first round Challenge Cup tie makes it no less enjoyable for the players and the fans.

Indeed the neutrals enjoyed a feast of good football from both teams, but the undoubted star of the show was new Shire signing, Sean Simpson.

The debutant had a commanding performance, scoring Shire’s first goal just a minute after Robert Campbell gave The Sons a 31st minute lead.

Simpson then put Shire 2-1 ahead three minutes after the half-time interval, although that lead was cancelled out by Campbell’s second strike on 53 minutes.

Shire hit the front when Kevin Struthers pounced on the rebound after Anton Nugent failed to hold Graeme McLaren’ free-kick and Struthers completed the scoring two minutes from time with a diving header.

Afterwards, all the qustions to coach Gordon Wylde were about Simpson.

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“He is our player,” confirmed the Head Coach. “He was signed on amateur forms just prior to the match. Initially, we just wanted to have a look at him and we have now done that.

“I am now very keen to get him tied up on a longer term deal, but that is very much up to the player and what he wants to do.”

It seems likely he will be part of the squad which faces Forfar Athletic on Saturday.

The makeshift team which started the cup-tie bore little resemblance to Saturday’s league side. Only Gordon Moffat, Carl Thywissen, Paul Doyle and Derek Ure were left from the team that ended the 3-2 win over the same opponents. Dumbarton also struck to a much younger team.

Youngsters Ryan Carr and  16 year-old James McShane were rewarded with a start while the other youngsters whowill make up Shire’s reserve team for the coming season were given places on the subs bench, with Jake McGregor coming on for the last half hour.

Not that it should de-value Shire’s win in any way. Wylde will now be the first Shire manager since George Fairley to ask the question, “Who do we get in the next round of the cup?”

SHIRE TO FACE ‘WEE GERS’ IN OPENER

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Saturday the 2nd of August will see Shire journey south to Shielfield Park to start their 2008/09 campaign against newly relegated Berwick Rangers.

Shire’s first Home game of the season will be against Albion Rovers on the 9th of August.

Saturday the 16th of August will mark a historical day as Shire will travel to the SFL’s newest member and compete in the first league game between the two sides.

The first ‘local derby’ versus Stenhousemuir will take place on September 13th. This will be the first of two ‘home’ games versus Stenny, the other being Shire’s first game of 2009 on January 3rd.

SHIRE 3 FORFAR ATHLETIC 2

Colin Cramb’s sensational injury-time winner brought to an end a run of three consecutive defeats and put Shire back into the play-off places.

After David Dunn and Andy Rodgers had given Shire a 2-0 interval lead, Forfar took advantage of some poor home defending to draw themselves level, scoring their equaliser with just three minutes left.

They must have bargained that would have been enough to gain them a valuable share of the points, but they reckoned without Cramb’s 30 yard free-kick which flew into the net off the bar for the winner.

Shire boss Jim McInally was forced into two changes from the team which lost to Dundee United in the Scottish Cup. Eddie Forrest was suspended and Colin Cramb was carrying an injury which meant the introduction of Sean Anderson and Dean Richardsn who were both substitutes in the cup-tie.

There were organisational changes too, with Andy Rodgers coming off his wing role to partner Brian Graham in a two-pronged attack. Craig Tully was taken off his normal defensive midfield beat to partner Michael Bolochoweckyj at the centre of the back four.

Dick Campbell’s Forfar Athletic side contained a couple of familiar faces to Shire fans. Kevin Gordon, always a fans’ favourite in his time at Firs Park, was in the Loons’ starting eleven while Sean Simpson was on the substitutes’ bench.

It was Gordon who got the game’s first sniff of goal after four minutes. Ross Campbell glided past a poor challenge from Bolocjoweckyj and floated the all over the defence to Gordon who was clean through on goal but was halted in his tracks by the stand side linesman’s offside flag.

Forfar had by far the better of the opening exchanges and wasted a great chance to open the scoring after seven minutes when Campbell flicked the ball over the static Shire defence for Craig Winter who took it into the box before shooting across Mark Peat’s goal and just wide of the far post.

Shire tried to come back into the game but they best they could manage in the early stages was a Rodgers half volley which went well wide of target. The home side were under the cosh a bit but it didn’t stop them taking the lead after 18 minutes.

Craig Donaldson was fouled 20 yards from goal and David Dunn hit the resulting free-kick high into the top left-hand corner of Ally Brown’s net. Forfar hardly had time to recover from that blow before they found themselves two goals behind.

Brian Graham took the ball wide right and hit a cross to the back post for Richardson who headed over the defence and the stranded keeper for Rodgers to shoot home.

The Loons kept going despite the setback and a mistake by Bolochoweckyj  let Gordon in behind the defence but debutant Peat raced from his line to thwart any danger by diving bravely at the Forfar forward’s feet.

On the half hour mark Gordon provided Forfar their next opportunity, making good progress down the right and cut it back for Lilley who cleverly dummied it for Darren Brady whose 25 yard shot was fierce but just wide of Peat’s right-hand post.

Shire weren’t making much headway towards Brown’s goal but Anderson’s mazy run after 37 minutes ended with a shot from the edge of the box that stung the palms of the Forfar keeper’s hands.

The second half started with a bad foul on Rodgers by Elliot Smith but the resulting free-kick only brought a cross from Donaldson which was gratefully grasped by Brown at his near post.

Three minutes later a decent break down the left by Graham carried promise but came to nothing after Anderson mis-placed his pass wide to Rodgers. Rodgers was played clean through with only Brown to beat not long after but the linesman, correctly, flagged because Graham was offside.

After 55 minutes Rodgers’ crossfield pass found Richardson lurking unmarked. His shot was well-hit but went across the face of goal and just wide at the far post.

Forfar missed a great chance to get themselves back into the match after 58 minutes when Gordon fed Campbell inside the box but the visiting striker shot wide after the net after good work by Peat to put him off.

But the visitors did eventually get themselves back into the match on 68 minutes when some poor Shire defending let Martin Fotheringham in at the near post and he beat Peat with a low shot.

Shire brought on Cramb in place of Graham and the veteran striker quickly got in behind the home defence and even round the goalkeeper but his shot was blocked by the experienced Andy Tod.

Shire had the driving wind and rain in their faces but with Marc McKenzie chasing there was almost a chance of a breakaway. That opportunity presented itself on 84 minutes when Squib raced clear on goal only to be crudely brought to the ground by the last Forfar defender, Stephen Tulloch. Amazingly, neither referee or linesman brought play to a stop and the game raged on.

That had an impact on 87 minutes when Forfar won a free-kick in central midfield. The ball  was whipped in and Tulloch got in just fractionally before Peat to send the slightest of headers into the back of the net.

But Shire never gave up hope of winning the match, even in injury time. McKenzie was fouled by Darren Brady 30 yards from goal and Cramb stepped up, struck the free-kick with the minimum of backlift, high into the net off the underside of the bar for a sensational winner.

SHIRE : Peat, Hay, Dunn, Donaldson, Bolochoweckyj, Tully, Anderson(McKenzie 76), Ure, Graham(Cramb 65), Richardson, Rodgers(Kelly 82).

FORFAR ATHLETIC : Brown, Donnachie, Smith, Winter(Simpson 71), Tod, Tulloch, Gordon, Brady, Lilley(Manson 80), Campbell(Kilgannon 71), Fotheringham.

REFREE : T. Robertson

ATTENDANCE : 405.

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WYLDE DELIGHTED WITH CUP WIN

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Shire boss Gordon Wylde declared himself delighted with last night’s 1-0 Stirlingshire Cup victory at Falkirk.

Marc McKenzie gave Shire the chance of reaching the final with the only goal of the match, but Wylde was more concerned with the hard work the team put in.

“Falkirk put out a young team but they gave us plenty of problems,” he said afterwards. “They pushed us back and, at times, it was difficult to get the ball off them.

“But I was pleased we got a good work out. Of course managers will tell you results at this stage of the season don’t really matter but it’s good to get wins like this and hopefullythat will breed confidence.”

The coach was not without his selection problems with two central defenders missing, but his makeshift defence held up well. “I thought Paul Doyle did exceptionally well given that we had to move him from right back because Stephen Oates and Carl Thywissen were both out.

“He held the line well with David King and I thought the pairing made a good partnership.”

Centre-half King claims it would be wrong to devalue Shire’s win by claiming Falkirk fielded a weakened team. “They are all good players and I am sure some of them will be playing in Falkirk’s first team soon. It was good to get the win and hopefully now we can move on from this.”

Falkirk coach, John Hughes, might have been relaxed about losing to Shire with a reserve team in the Stirlingshire Cup, but he wasn’t. He was furious.

“Of course it hurts to lose to the Shire,” he said. And he didn’t mince his words about his young guns’ attitude. “Some of them get it too easy. They think they can come in and play and do it all, but unless they come with the right attitude then that’s what’s going to happen to them.

“All the credit should go to the Shire, they came and battled hard and showed the right kind of determination to get the result. If some of my players think they can get back into the team after that then maybe they’ve got another thing coming.”

FOR A FULL MATCH REPORT GO TO THE FIXTURES PAGE AND CLICK ON THE RESULT.