For the second Saturday in a row Shire turned thousands of betting slips into confetti as they upset the odds and produced a stunning home victory over Third Division leaders Annan Athletic.
Bradley Coyne scored the game’s only goal after 38 minutes, not long after he had seen his penalty kick saved by visiting keeper Craig Summersgill, and his vital contribution earned Shire the three points that were enough to lift the team off the bottom of the table.
The only down side to a great afternoon was the serious injury sustained by on-loan defender Craig Winter after he landed awkwardly following a challenge for a high ball midway through the second half. He was later taken to hospital with suspected ankle ligament damage.
Shire were forced to do without Iain Chisholm due to work commitments so that meant a re-call for Steven Jackson who was asked to fill in at right-back. Otherwise the team was unchanged from the one which had surprised many by claiming an away point at Alloa a week earlier.
The game took a long time to come to life and there was little to warm the crowd on a freezing cold day at Ochilview until midway through the first half.
Annan created the early danger and a nice flowing move around the edge of the Shire box on 24 minutes set up Graham Bell for a shot but his effort from the 18 yard line looped harmlessly over Calum Antell’s goal.
Two minutes later the Shire keeper was called into action for the first time. A cross into the box from wide on the right was headed towards goal by Bryan Gilfillan and Antell was forced to dive full-length to save the effort at the base of the post.
After 29 minutes a great run down the left by Fraser Team resulted his his low cross which Coyne fired goalward only to see David Cox prevent him from opening the scoring for Shire with a desperate goal line clearance.
Coyne was given a further opportuynity to find the back of the net after 35 minutes when Andy Stirling was bundled over in the box as he attempted to get on the end of Alex Lurinsky’s cross. But the striker’s penalty kick, although well hit, was saved by Craig Summersgill diving low to his right to push the ball clear from just inside the post.
Some strikers might have taken the blow badly, but Bradley’s next intervention in the match was to put his team ahead with a brilliantly executed goal. Barely two minutes after the disappointment of the penalty miss a pass from Michael Hunter sent the forward racing in on goal with only Summersgill to beat. His finish was a touch of class as he chipped the advancing keeper from the edge of the box.
Five minutes before the break another mazy run from Team left him with space and time for a shot from inside the box but his effort went flashing across the face of goal and narrowly wide of the far post.
Annan looked more purposeful after the break but struggled to create anything meaningful. Shire, for their part, might have gone 2-0 in front after 63 minutes when Coyne got a great touch at the near post from Lurinsky’s cross but the ball went just wide.
After 68 minutes Winter challenged Gillfillan in the air but landed in a crumpled heap and left the field on a stretcher and in a lot of pain to be replaced by substitute Craig Scott.
The loss of the experienced defender gave Annan a sniff of goal and on 70 minutes Gilfillan was left unmarked inside the box but he sent his shot wide when well-placed. Two minutes later substitute Ian Harty got a sight of goal but his shot was too near to Antell who made a comfortable save.
The Shire keeper then gave away an indirect free-kick deep inside his own but a minute later but Annan squandered the opportunity to equalise by sending a powerful shot just wide of the target.
In the final few minutes, though, it was Shire who had the best chances to score. After 82 minutes a great run by Stirling to the edge of the box was rather wasted with a shot which did not live up to the approach play and Summersgill saved easily.
But skipper Kevin Turner, on as a late substitute for Team did force the Annan keeper to earn his corn with a great strike from the edge of the box on 84 minutes that was only kept out by a wonderful full-length diving save.
With the last kick of the match Lewis Horner might have made it 2-0 but his shot from the edge of the box just shaved the Annan crossbar.
SHIRE : Antell, Jackson, Maxwell, Winter(Scott 68), Cane, Hunter, Team(Turner 78), Stirling, Coyne, Horner, Lurinsky(A. Love 78).
ANNAN ATHLETIC : Summersgill, Muirhead, McGowan, Gibson, Wild, Steele, MacBeth, Mitchell, Gilfillan, Bell, Cox.
REFEREE : P. Robertson.
ATTENDANCE : 215.