Peterhead’s topsy-turvy season took another twist on Saturday as they were humbled by bottom of the table East Stirling in a match which saw both sides reduced to ten men.
Eager to build on the 1-0 midweek win over Berwick Rangers, in which Martin Bavidge headed the only goal, Peterhead opened the scoring in the first minute. But what would follow, especially in the first half, can only be described as crazy.
Bavidge was one of a number of absentees, work commitments sending him to Australia, while Paul Jarvie again missed out due to the facial injury he suffered in the win over Annan seven days earlier.
And the notoriously slow-starting Blue Toon seemed set to put an end to that tag when they took the lead after just a minute, Rory McAllister taking advantage of a collision in the home defence to reach the bye-line and pull back for Graeme Sharp to fire home from 18-yards.
They could have added a second when good interplay between Dennis Wyness, Jamie Redman and McAllister set the latter free, but his shot was off-target.
The home side were level after just nine minutes, and Jellema was helpless to prevent Mikey Hunter’s fizzing 25-yard shot finding the top corner after an Andy Stirling lay-off.
It was midway through the first half the madness really began to kick in. Peterhead were issued a warning when Jellema flapped at a cross from on-loan Airdrie man Rhys Devlin, the ball coming off Callum Macdonald before being turned back toward goal by Alex Lurinsky. Davie Donald headed off the line to clear the danger.
Less than a minute later, the home side were in front. Again Devlin sent in a cross from the right, Jellema this time straying from his line to claim the ball. Distracted by the run of Kevin Turner, though, the goalkeeper stopped and the cross floated straight in.
Jim McInally’s former side were now in their stride, and they were handed, quite literally, a third goal just after the half hour. Ryan Strachan needlessly raised his arm to block Stirling’s free-kick to gift Shire a penalty, and Lurinsky made no mistake from the spot.
The fourth was a spectacular strike, but again avoidable. Jellema’s goal kick into the wind caused a midfield scramble, and when the ball broke to Scott Maxwell, it sat up perfectly for the winger to volley into the top corner from 45 yards.
And they weren’t finished there. Just two minutes later, Jellema bizarrely opted to punch rather than catch Turner’s shot from a tight angle, and Stirling rose above Macdonald at the back post to head home.
The sides went in at 5-1, but there was a feeling around the ground that there was more to come, and the fans weren’t disappointed.
Shire could have netted again through Turner’s acrobatic effort from Devlin’s cross, but the Blue Toon pulled one back on 50 minutes.
Bryan Deasley replaced Graham Webster and his first duty was to swing over a corner kick that Macdonald turned over the line from close range.
And when Roy McBain cleverly chipped the goalkeeper to bring the score to 5-3, it seemed the comeback was most definitely on.
Ironically, though, the red card dished out to Maxwell for a stupid second booking, just after the hour, probably helped the Shire.
The midfielder had already seen yellow for a foul on McAllister, so when he kicked the ball away after an offside decision, there could only be one outcome.
But it allowed a side that were beginning to look just as disjointed as Peterhead had in the first half, the opportunity to regroup.
So although Peterhead pressed and pressed for more goals, the home side defended stoutly, although the Blue Toon didn’t help themselves.
Five minutes after the sending-off, Wyness found himself through on goal only to go down as goalkeeper Callum Antell dived at his feet. Referee John Beaton made his decision quickly and showed Wyness the yellow card for a perceived dive.
The striker was again involved with ten minutes to go as he flicked a Strachan free-kick toward goal only for Antell to push the header over the crossbar.
And the keeper pulled off an even better save with four minutes to go. McAllister showed tremendous footwork to turn his man, only for the last ditch block of Hunter to deny the hitman.
The ball broke off a Shire defender to Wyness who sclaffed his six-yard shot into the gorund. Even so, it seemed to be heading into the top corner before Antell pushed it over the bar.
And in injury time, Peterhead suffered further misery. Hunter burst from midfield with two in pursuit before being brought down inches outside the area by Macdonald.
The Peterhead skipper was perhaps unfortunate to see red in view of the covering players, but Stirling sent a raping free-kick beyond Jellema to put the icing on the Shire cake.
PETERHEAD: Jellema, Donald (Davidson, 63), McBain, Tully, Macdonald, Strachan, Sharp, Redman, McAllister, Wyness (Robertson, 88), Webster (Deasley, 49). Sub not used:Smith.