Shire recovered from the shock of losing a goal after just 19 seconds against Elgin City at Ochilview to dominate the match to such an extent that by its conclusion they were kicking themselves because they had not won it.
The home fans must have had a sense of foreboding when Craig Gunn ran through the heart of the Shire defence to give Elgin City a quickfire lead, but John Coughlin’s side do not lack heart and they never thet the early setback get to them.
It was not long before the home team had chances to score while Elgin had lost any impetus from the lightning strike. It was not against the run of play when Bradley Coyne scored his fourth goal in six game to equalise, and Shire certainly had opportunities from there on it to claim all three points.
They were hampered by the late sending-off of Ally Love and that affected a late rush for victory but the team and the fans were at least sent home in the knowledge that they had put to bed a worrying run of ten straight league defeats.
Coach John Coughlin made a couple of surprise changes after the very flat midweek defeat at the hands of Berwick Rangers. David Cane returned for the first time since being sent-off in the Buckie cup-tie and there was also a recall for Fraser Team.
But before either of those players had touched the ball Elgin City were ahead. Shire surrendered possession straight from kick-off and after a swift exchange of passes Gunn set off on a run from halfway to the edge of the Shire box before shooting low into the net past Calum Antell.
At least Shire had almost the whole match left to respond and they were not long in doing so. After nine minutes an Andy Stirling corner kick caused chaos in the Elgin City penalty area and eventually the ball found Ally Love at the back edge of the box but his shot was just too high and cleared the bar.
It was a promising sign, though, as were a number of other corner kicks which, while they might not have brought a clear sight of goal at least kept the pressure on the visitors who soon looked as though they had lost their way after a stunning start.
After 24 minutes Shire should have drawn level. Stirling’s cross into the box from wide on the right was missed by two Shire players but fell nicely for Love six yards out at the back post. It looked odds-on he would score but the Shire man was not counting on Elgin keeper Zander Clark, who made a wonderful point-blank save with his legs.
There was more in the way of home pressure even if no more outstanding scoring chances until five minutes before the break when Love was fouled just outside the box. Bradley Coyne had scored from a similar position against Berwick three days earlier and clearly fancied his chances again.
The on-loan St. Mirren striker took charge of the dead ball situation and lashed a low shot round the Elgin defensive wall and into the net at the far corner past Clark’s despairing dive.
It was no more than Shire deserved and they ought to have been 2-1 ahead seven minutes into the second period. A short corner was worked out to Stirling on the angle of the penalty box and his shot across the face of goal looked net-bound but crashed back off the inside of the post and back into play.
Cane picked up the rebound and fired a shot towards goal, however Clark again denied Shire with another instinctive save throwing his right leg at the ball to divert it away from goal.
There were other moments where Shire had a clear sight of the Elgin goal but failed to cash in. Then, with 13 minutes left, Love was sent-off after an off-the-ball incident involving Elgin substitute Blair Lawrie.
That changed the game almost as much as the introduction of Elgin’s giant striker Paul Millar. There was no doubt the home team was on the back foot after going down to ten men and Millar’s massive height might have been responsible for giving the visitors a win.
With ten minutes left he got on the end of a Gunn cross but his header was stopped by a diving Antell save. However, after 84 minutes the ball was thrown high into the Shire box for Millar at the back post and this time his looping header looked a goal all the way but somehow Antell managed to punch the ball onto the crossbar and gather the rebound safely.
SHIRE : Antell, Chisholm, Maxwell(Dingwall 75), Cane, Jackson, Hunter, Stirling, Horner(Scott 68), Coyne, Team(Lurinsky 87), A. Love.
ELGIN CITY : Clark, O’Donoghue, Niven, Kaczan(Beveridge 55) , Edwards, Crooks(Lawrie 73), Gunn, Cameron(Millar 73) , Leslie, Nicolson, Moore.
REFEREE : E.Anderson.
ATTENDANCE : 234.