What a difference a week makes. Seven days pereviously Shire had scoreda deserved win over league leaders Annan Athletic but they were no match for a Stranraer team who scored six and were unlucky not to find the back of the net on any number of other occasions.
It was a dismal day for the visitors without the old heads of Iain Chisholm and Craig Winter to hold the defence together and keeper Calum Antell must have been left wondering whether it was a game of old-fashioned school playground shootie-in.
Stranraer created chances to score from the first minute to the last and it was only the heroics of Antell, and some wasteful finishing, that spared Shire even greater embarrassment.
Antell was in action within seconds of the start when home striker Martin Grehan found himself free inside the visitors penalty area but the on-loan keeper mnade a brilliant blocking save with his legs as the Stenraer man took aim from the edge of the six yard box.
Six minutes later Stuart McColm, so often a tormentor of Shire in the past, raced down the left flank and whipped over a deep cross for Sean Winter at the back post but the home winger put his shot past the post. It was an ominous sign, though.
After nine minutes Stuart Noble’s free-kick into the Shire box caused chaos and after bobbling about for a few seconds the ball was brought under control by Craig Malcolm who hit his shot over the bar from six yards when it seemed easier to score.
Nine minutes later McColm’s run down the left ended with another far post cross for Winter but he could not get any pace in his shot and Antell saved. After 25 minutes Grehan weaved his way into the shire box and fired in a shot which Steven Jackson managed to take the power out of.
However, the effort beat Antell and was crawling towards the goal line until the Shire keeper recovered to stop it in its tacks. Only a minute later Malcolm found himself free inside the box buyt his shot was saved by Antell.
It seemed incredible that Shire had survived for almost half an hour of constant Stranraer pressure but their defence was breached after 28 minutes. Winter raced past Scott Maxwell into the box but was caught by the defender’s trailing leg. Referee Des Roache pointed to the penalty spot and Steven Stirling scored.
But a minute later Shire ought to have been level. A long ball sent Bradley Coyne clear of the home defence and his shot was a good one but was well-saved by Marshall in the Stranraer goal.
However, just a matter of 30 seconds later Stranraer were 2-0 ahead. Winter raced down the right flank and cut the ball back onto the 18 yard line for Stirling to smack it high into the roof of the net.
Shire lost possession from the re-start and less than a minute later were three goals behind. This time right-back Taggart’s ball into the box was pushed into the net at the near post by Winter.
The visitors were in danger of folding completely and Grehan should have made it 4-0 with a shot that just shaved the outside of the far post. A minute before hte interval Antell produced a brilliant diving save from Malcolm’s half-volley from the edge of the box.
Only a minute after the re-start McColm wasted a brilliant chance, shooting over the bar when well-placed inside the box. But after 56 minute he did get on the scoresheet as he latched onto a Malcom free-kick chipped in behind the Shire defence. McColm took the ball into the box and beat the exposed Antell with a shot into the net at the keeeper’s near post.
The Stranraer attacks showed no sign of ending and after 63 minutes it was 5-0 when Taggart exchanged passes on the edge of the box with Malcolm before striding into the box to score.
There was a brief Shire fightback and substitiute Kevin Turner missed a great chance to pull a goal back with a low shot from six yards out that Marshall saved at his near post.
Not long after another Shire replacement, Nico Gibson crossed to the waiting Turner at the back post but his shot was charged down. The Turner turned provider slipping a great pass through for Coyne to chase but the striker’s shot was well-saved by Marshall.
Shire’s miserable afternoon was completed eight minutes from the end. Home substitute Michael Moore saw his shot saved by Antell but the ball rebounded off David Cane and back past the stranded Shire keeper into his own net.
STRANRAER : Marshall, Taggart, Noble, McGregor(Gallagher 65), McKeown, Kane, Winter(Moore 70), Stirling(Agnew 77), Malcolm, Grehan, McColm.
SHIRE : Antell, Jackson, Maxwell, Dingwall, Cane, Hunter(Gibson 76), Team(A. Love 46), Stirling, Coyne, Horner,Lurinsky(Turner 46).
REFEREE: D. Roache.