Rangers 3-1 East Stirlingshire: Little double extends Gers' lead at the top

The Northern Irishman continued his tremendous vein of goalscoring form as the Third Division leaders had to come from behind against John Coughlin's men on Saturday
Rangers continued their surge to the Third Division title with a hard-fought win over East Stirlingshire to round off a tumultuous week for the Ibrox club.

An SPL commission this week ruled that Rangers had not cheated their way to five of their world record 54 league titles and the home fans were in fine voice as they celebrated the verdict before the game.

Matters on the park didn’t go to plan, however, and the Gers had to come from behind to record their 11th home win of the season.

Andrew Stirling put East Stirlingshire in front after 40 minutes thanks to a smart move which he started himself, before Andy Little equalised ten minutes later with his 23rd of the season.

Lee McCulloch scored his own 23rd goal of the campaign after an hour and Little added another three minutes later.

There was just one change for Rangers from their 1-1 draw at Stirling Albion in midweek, club captain McCulloch returning in place of Dean Shiels after a two-month absence. East Stirlingshire manager John Coughlin, meanwhile, replaced Steven Jackson and Michael Herd with Nathan Shepherd and Kevin Turner following his side’s 3-2 win over Elgin City.

Little went close to opening the scoring after just 60 seconds, turning inside the box from a Kal Naismith throw-in before drawing a good save from the Shire goalkeeper Grant Hay.

Little then missed a couple of decent headed chances to force his side into the lead.

The pressure was increasing on Coughlin’s team and McCulloch had a terrific chance after 23 minutes, cutting inside two defenders before shooting straight at the goalkeeper 14 yards out.

Little and McCulloch both then failed to convert great chances as the Rangers strikers continued to be frustrated.

There was the sense that Rangers were going to rue these missed chances and sure enough they were made to pay for their profligacy when East Stirling went in front through Stirling’s wonderful goal.

The midfielder played a superb one-two to break into the area behind Anestis Argyriou before rifling past Alexander.

McCulloch almost drew level a minute or two later, but Hay saved strongly from the captain’s driven free kick and Chris Hegarty deflected the rebound over.

The Gers were deservedly level after five minutes of the second period, however, Little converting from close range after Argyriou had scuffed a shot at the end of a good run.

McCulloch then put the hosts in front on the hour mark, running on to a through ball from Templeton before rounding Hay and rolling the ball into the net.

Little scored his second and Rangers’ third shortly after, robbing Shepherd on the left wing and breaking into the box to fire home.

Stirling should have had his second but his shot from inside the area lacked conviction and Alexander saved comfortably.

It was very nearly four for the home team moments later when Templeton flicked the ball onto the post from a rebounded McCulloch strike.

And McCulloch missed a fantastic chance to complete the rout with 85 minutes on the clock, heading wide after McKay had found the striker in space at the back post.