Strollers boss '˜sick' as seven first-half goals fly in
The visitors simply tore into their hosts, rattling seven goals inside the opening 40 minutes at Christie Gillies Park – a feat, Cunningham admitted, had left him feeling utterly despondent at half-time.
Despite the Strollers defence managing to contain their rampant opponents to just a solitary effort after the break, Cunningham resembled a broken man during his post-match interview, saying: “It’s a hard one. I know the effort the committee have put in and they deserve better than that. Myself and the backroom team have assembled the squad that is here and if that’s not good enough then we have to take the can for that. If we can’t get a reaction from the players then you’ve got to question yourself. It just feels really raw.
“I tried to be diplomatic at half-time and not lose the plot. I physically felt sick watching that because I’ve never been involved in a game like even when I played. I thought it could have been double figures by the end.
“Some of the goals they scored wouldn’t have looked out of place on Match of the Day,” Cunningham continued. “They’ve kind of destroyed us. We got ourselves right back into the game at 2-1 and I just don’t understand what we’ve done from then on. I’m looking at the same players that played so well against Gretna and comfortably won 4-0. We just didn’t have enough energy and you kind of look at it and say to yourself, ‘do you really want to carry on?’
“You put so much time and effort into it and you get that back in return. I was down at the park at 10am on Saturday. We have got a big squad, we’ve got to cut it there’s no question about that now so we’re going to have to try and bring some better quality in. I’ve perhaps been to loyal to some of the players but this is a completely different level.
“We’ve got Edinburgh Uni on Wednesday then Spartans and East Kilbride so it doesn’t get any easier. But we knew that coming into this. We’re looking to try and stay in the league but we won’t with performances like that.”
The onslaught started as early as the seventh minute when striker David Grant, who would prove a thorn in the Strollers’ back four all afternoon, lashed the ball beyond goalkeeper Stuart Burnside with an accurate finish.
The same player doubled his side’s advantage seven minutes later with a similar effort, breaking through a ruck of challenges to put the Shire two up.
However, the Capital outfit were afforded a route back into the game when Dean Shaw’s poor touch in goal allowed Matthew Cunningham to seize control and he rolled the ball into the empty net on 16 minutes.
But the home side’s fragility was exposed just a minute later as Jamie Glasgow was given acres of space on the edge of the area and the winger angled his shot away from Burnside into the far corner.
Glasgow got his second and Shire’s fourth after 20 minutes, volleying home Grant’s cutback before Steven Froude again reduced the deficit two minutes later.
The goal-fest continued with Grant sealing his hat-trick just 25 minutes into the match before former Spartans and University of Stirling striker Paul Sludden got himself in on the action with a neat finish to make it 6-2.
The hosts’ misery continued when on-loan Peterhead forward Andy Rodgers made it seven five minutes before the interval.
Chris Milligan’s header two minutes before the interval completed the scoring in an astonishing first half that culminated in ten goals.
Grant’s tap-in midway through the second half completed a thoroughly miserable afternoon for all those connected with Strollers.
Civil Service Strollers: Burnside, Milligan, Dingwall, Laird (Milven 46), Turnbull, Cunningham, Brown (75 Crane), Martin, Froude, Finnnie, Newark. Subs: Boyle, Rixon, Watson.
East Stirlingshire: Shaw (Dolan 60), MacGregor, Murray, A Grant, Greene, Faulds (Hogg 66), Rodgers, Ure, D Grant (McMillan 75), Sludden, Glasgow. Subs: McGuigan, White, Peddie.