Annan FC vs East Stirlingshire
There haven’t been too may games this season where Annan have been outplayed and outfought but on Saturday it would have been an injustice if they’d managed to secure any result from this match. East Stirlingshire controlled the entire first half with Annan only having one shot on target from the penalty spot that they scored. The Shire on the other hand were denied on numerous occasions by Annan keeper Kenny Arthur who despite conceding three goals was the games man of the match, the big Annan keeper kept Annan within touching distance of grabbing a point from a game where in all honesty they were never in it.
After a morning of heavy rain the match was played in glorious sunshine, with Annan boss Jim Chapman facing a one match ban from the touchline placed his faith in the same starting line up which defeated Montrose the previous week but almost from the kick off you sensed that East Stirlingshire had more desire than Annan and more to lose as they took the game to the home side. David Greenhill and Paul Quinn both came close within the opening ten minutes. Annan’s only real shot at goal came courtesy of Matty Flynn in the 13th minute when his 25 yard effort went narrowly past. Max Wright responded almost immediately when he tested Arthur who had to be alert to deal with a Michael Herd effort minutes later. It came as no surprise when the visitors opened their account in the 20th minute, the goal was created down the right when a neat move released Michael Herd whose low cross to the near post was clinically finished by Max Wright from 6 yards. The goal was just reward for the visitors and Annan once again had Arthur to thank when he came to their rescue to deny David Greenhill in the 37th minute. Annan were then presented with an olive branch in the 43rd minute when they were awarded a penalty kick in the 43rd minute after Keeper Grant Hay’s rash challenge on Martin McNiff was adjudged to be a penalty by referee Andrew Dallas . The keeper escaped with a red card and Scott Davidson converted the spot kick to give Annan a foothold on a match that they hardly deserved.
Annan after a disappointing first half Annan started the second half with more conviction and straight from the kick off Kieran Brannon’s effort was tipped over the bar by Grant Hay. The corner was defended but from the ensuing play the ball fell invitingly for Andrew Mitchell whose low shot from 15 yards nestled into the bottom corner of the net to give Annan an unlikely lead. It was just the tonic Annan needed but in the 49th minute they had a real let off when Iain Thomson’s effort from 20 yards crashed off the cross bar. East Stirling for the first time in the match were being forced to defend but Annan could not sustain the pressure for long and East Stirling soon started to stamp their authority back on the match. Max Wright tested Arthur in the 64th minute and at the other end Martin McNiff headed into the side netting from a corner. It came as no real surprise when East Stirling squared the match in the 74th minute. The danger was created down the left when David Greenhill won his way to the bye line skipped past the challenge of Black and picked out the unmarked Max Wright at the back post who side footed the ball into the empty net from 6 yards. The visitors sensing victory brought on substitutes Nathan Shepherd and Graeme McGregor and it was Shepherd who had the final say when he took full advantage of some poor defending and indecision in the Annan defence to control the ball and slip the ball into the net in the 86th minute for what proved a vital three points.
Annan assistant manager John Joyce standing in for the suspended Jim Chapman was very critical of the both the performance and the result, “the fact that we went 2-1 ahead I thought we would have kicked in but it went the other way we defended really poorly ,Kenny Arthur kept us in the game but we invited pressure on ourselves and we were really disappointing. Kenny Arthur was the man of the match with a couple of wonderful saves that kept us in the match, he did really well but the rest of the guys let themselves down really badly today, they have done really well in lots of games but today they lacked any quality, imagination and any belief”.
John Coughlin the Shire boss could not hide his joy at his teams performance. “Any team that comes to Annan and gets three points has done well, I have actually said to my players in the dressing room that Kenny Arthur was the man of the match and I thought he was excellent today. Some of the saves he was pulling off were great but fortunately we responded after going a goal down when Annan scored to go ahead, but our response was excellent, I took a wee chance with the substitutes going for the victory rather than seeing out a draw and it paid off, absolutely delighted for Nathan Shepherd who came on after a long lay off and won the game for us. It was a big big win for us as anybody who comes to Annan and wins must be delighted”.
Annan Athletic – K Arthur, S Sloan, M McNiff, S Black, S Swinglehurst, M Flynn , S Davidson (J Moffat 79 min), K Brannan, J Todd, A Mitchell ( A Love 89 min) , P Bradley ( D Orsi 80 min). Substitutes not used Z Caldwell, C Jardine, A Mitchell, D Wood.
East Stirlingshire – G Hay, M Herd, S Maxwell, , C Townsley, J McKechnie (N Shepherd 77 min), I Thomson, J Tapping, D Greenhill, P Quinn ( G McGregor 77 min) , R Miller, M Wright, l. Substitutes not used R Devlin, J Glasgow, C Gordon and R O’Donoghue
Annan – S Davidson 43 min pen, A Mitchell 48 min
East Stirlingshire -M Wright 20min, D Greenhill 74 min, N Shepherd 84 min..
Referee – A Dallas Assistants – B Templeton and W Cowie