Even the visitors were forced to admit that Shire deserved to take something from their latest game of the new season. But that was scant consolation to the players and to coach John Coughlin, who were forced to tend the wounds inflicted by another defeat which was further soured by the needless sending-off of Man of the Match, Andy Stirling.
Shire got off to the worst possible start by going a goal down inside the opening quarter hour but showed a lot of spirit and determination to get themselves back on level terms thanks to Stirling’s wonder goal.
After that the game raged from end to end but looked to be heading for a draw until Stuart McColm’s shot after 70 minutes took a big deflection to decieve keeper Calum Antell and end up in the back of the net. Stirling’s dismissal for a second yellow card three minutes later only further hampered the Shire cause and the day ended miserably when Michael Moore put a gloss on the vistors’ victory by scoring a third in injury-time.
There was yet more experimentation in the starting eleven and disappointment for Steven Jackson who was dropped to the substitutes bench despite playing well against Alloa seven days earler.
The visitors were quickly onto the attack and after less than a minute Nathan Shepherd was clean through with only Antell to beat but he sent his shot well over the crossbar.
Shire responded and a great pass from Iain Chisholm just a minute later set up Joe Dingwall but his shot from just inside the penalty box was well-saved by visiting keeper David Mitchell.
There was a moment of danger after six minutes when the Shire defence failed to deal properly with a Shepherd corner kick and the ball landed nicely for Grant Gallagher but his effort, although on target, was blocked on the line.
Stranraer were not to be denied for long, though. There seemed to be little danger when Steven Noble picked up the ball in midfield but once he got to around twenty yards from goal he took aim and fired the visitors in front with a shot from distance.
If Stranraer believed that would be their platform for better things then they were wrong. Just seven minutes later a mazy midfield run from Stirling created the space for a shot from the edge of the box.
But instead of blasting one towards Mitchell, the Shire midfielder beat the keeper with a perfectly executed lob to bring the scores level.
From then on until half-time the game ebbed and flowed with neither side able to get a stranglehold on proceedings although Antell was a relieved man after 32 minutes when he came way off his line only to miss his clearing punch completely.
The ball eventually arrived at Mark Durnan but he couldn’t direct it into the empty net and the chance was gone.
With barely a minute of the half to go it was Shire’s chance to rue a missed golden opportunity to take the lead. A long ball into the box was collected brilliantly by Kevin Turner, who was clean through with only Mitchell to beat. Unfortunately, the Shire skipper hammered his shot straight at the Stranraer keeper and when the rebound was collected by Ally Love he shot wide when well-placed.
It could have been worse for the home team in injury-time at the end of the firsr period when Craig Malcolm looked odds-on to give Stranraer the lead after being put clean through on goal by Stuart McColm but he was denied by a stunning one-handed stop by Antell.
Four minutes after the break a nicely-weighted pass from Ryan Frances set Love clear but his final shot was too weak to trouble Mitchell, who saved easily. Six minutes later the visitors had the ball in the back of the net but the effort was correctly disallowed for offside.
After 59 minutes Turner set up Love for a shot from just outside the penalty area but the midfielder’s effort went over the bar and ten minutes later Stirling created an opening for Dingwall but he couldn’t keep his effort on target either.
Stranraer delivered the sucker punch after 69 minutes when McColm drifted clear and hit a shot that took a deflection off a Shire leg before going through Antell’s body and into the net to give the visitors a 2-1 advantage.
Shire’s task was made much harder four minutes later when Stirling, who had been Shire’s creative spark throughout, was shown a second yellow card for kicking the ball away at a Stranraer free-kick.
With quarter of an hour left Iain Chisholm fired in a cross from the right when Michael Hunter headed powerfully toward goal but Mitchell made a decent save.
In injury-time Stranraer added a third goal. Despite strong Shire protests that Stuart Beveridge had been fouled in the build-up, Stranraer were allowed to continue and Michael Moore fired home to give Stranraer their fourth league win on the bounce.
SHIRE : Antell, Chisholm, Dingwall, Beveridge, Cane, Frances (Jackson 67), Stirling, Hunter, Turner (Lurinsky 73), Sheerin (Team 81), Love.
STRANRAER : David Mitchell, Kane, Noble, Durnan, McKeown, Aitken, Gallagher, Danny Mitchell, Malcolm, McColm (Winter 77), Shepherd (Moore 65)
REFEREE : K. Clancy.
ATTENDANCE : 271.