Shire recorded just their third league win of the season with an emphatic 3-1 victory over Montrose at Ochilview on Saturday.
Alex Lurinsky was the headline-grabber, scoring the first two goals and setting the team on their way to ending a barren run of results over the festive period and into the early part of the new year.
But everyone in the team played their part in producing the right result and a cold, blustery day at least contained some internal warmth for players and fans alike.
Lewis Horner was back in his normal midfield berth after completing the formalities of his new loan from Hibernian late on Friday evening. However, Shire’s two new loan signings, Graeme Ramage and Rhys Devlin, had to content themselves with a place on the substitutes bench as coach John Coughlin chose to stick with the same starting eleven that was unfortunate to lose at Peterhead seven days earlier.
The toss gave Shire the elements at their back in the first half and right from the earliest moments of the game they seemed determined to take advantage of an icy gale-force wind blowing down the pitch.
After seven minutes the home team won a free-kick wide on the right and Andy Stirling laid the dead ball off to Scott Maxwell but his curling shot from the edge of the penalty area just cleared the crossbar.
Shire were determined to use the wind to any advantage and both Lewis Horner and Stirling were operating a shoot-on-sight policy from any distance. Twice Lewis tried his luck from long-range but each time his shot went wide although Stirling did force Sandy Wood into a save.
Daespite their dominance early on Shire were fortunate not to be a goal behind after 13 minutes. Martin Boyle worked his way in behind the home defence and went round Calum Antell’s dive. His shot towards the empty net contained no conviction, however, and Iain Chisholm dived to block it before the ball got anywhere near the line.
The bone-way traffic resumed towards the other goal. After 19 minutes Kevin Turner was through with only Wood to beat but his near post shot was too near the keeper. Ten minutes later Maxwell again tried his luck from range but just shaved the top of the crossbar.
After 37 minutes Stirling weaved his way into the box but his final shot was poor and Wood saved. However, the keeper then completely mis-cued his upfield clearance and Lurinsky nipped in to take the ball back to goal and beat Wood with a well-placed shot to give Shire the lead.
Four minutes before the interval Turner got a clear view of goal but his shot was blocked and the teams turned round with Shire 1-0 ahead.
There were understandable fears that Montrose may dominate with the wind at their backs but just three minutes after the re-start Shire were 2-0 ahead. Lurinsky was fouled inside the penalty box by Dougie Cameron and the Shire man who won the penalty kick award took it himself, sending Wood the wrong way to double the home team’s advantage.
After 54 minutes any hopes Montrose had at the interval were dashed as Shire increased the lead to three goals. Some nice passing play between Stirling and Horner provided the space and time for Maxwell to deliver a cross from wide on the left and Turner’s diving header at the near post was powerful enough to beat Wood.
But Montrose have come from further behind than 3-0 this season to get points and Shire could not take anything for granted with 30 minutes of the game still to go.
The visitors were provided with a convenient way back into the match after 58 minutes when Steven McPhee was brought down inside the box and Jamie Winter scored the resulting penalty kick.
After that Montrose enjoyed a brief spell of pressure during which David McGowan sent a header from six yards flashing wide of the target and Boyle crashed a half-volley into the side-netting.
A goal for Montrose at that stage might have signalled an uncomfortable closing period for Shire but the visirors’ failure to take those opportunities allowed the home players to re-assert their earlier dominance the longer things went on.
In the closing stages Shire missed a couple of decent chances to make the score 4-1. First, a Stirling cross from wide on the left produced a Turner header from close-range which Wood dived full-length to save.
Then Chisholm’s great run from deep into the Montrose box set up Ramage for the chance of a debut goal. Unfortunately, the on-loan Dumbarton man’s shot flew hard across the face of goal and went wide of the far post by just a fraction.
SHIRE : Antell, Chisholm, Dingwall, Jackson, Cane, Hunter, Lurinsky(Ramage 76), Stirling, Turner(Team 88), Horner, Maxwell(Devlin 83).
MONTROSE : S. Wood, Crawford(McNally 83), Cameron, Crighton, Smart, Masson, McGowan, Winter, Boyle, Johnston, G. Wood(McPhee 46).
REFEREE : D. Robertson.
ATTENDANCE : 248.