Not for the first time this season Shire’s inability to hold onto a hard-earened lead cost them dear.
Having fought superbly to keep high-flying Queen’s Park in check for three quarters of the game, Scott Maxwell gave them some reward for their efforts with just over 15 minutes to go.
But the Glasgow side fought back to equalise just five minutes later through Jamie Longworth and were then given a chance to take the lead only two minutes later only for Martin McBride’s penalty kick to be saved by Shire keeper Calum Antell.
However, if Shire thought that save was enough to have earned a point they were wrong. In the fourth minute of injury-time Longworth took aim from just outside the box with a shot that flew high into the roof of the net for the winning goal.
Coach John Coughlin’s team selection was no surprise. Back came skipper Kevin Turner and midfielder Michael Hunter after one game bans and out went Graeme Ramage and Iain Chisholm.
The match was extremely slow to ignite and it became a midfield war of attrition with neither team able to create anything in the way of meaningful goalmouth action.
An early Ian Watt corner into the Shire box caused some confusion but neither Longworth or Michael Daly were able to make any use of it.
Likewise, a superb free-kick from wide on the right by Maxwell might have provided Shire with the chance for a shot on goal but not one attacker could get on the end of the dangerous, curling cross.
It took more than half an hour for the first direct shot at goal. Longworth played in Daly for a clear sight of goal and the striker took aim but was denied by the outstetched arms of Antell, who tipped the ball over the bar for a corner kick.
Five minutes later Longworth wriggled clear of the attentions of David Cane but his shot on the turn lacked any real pace and, in any case, went just wide of Antell’s left-hand post.
A scoreless first 45 minutes summed up a rather drab opening period which, to be fair to both teams, was also spoiled by a strong and swirling wind.
The visitors were keen not to lose ground to the other top sides by dropping points against the bottom side and after the interval they opened strongly.
After 48 minutes Shire failed to clear a corner kick from the right was met by a firm header by Daly but his effort skimmed the post and Shire were able to clear any danger.
At the other end a great break out of defence saw Shire take the ball to the edge of the Queen’s Park penalty area before Andy Stirling unleashed a powerful shot that flashed just past the post with Spiders’ keeper Neil Parry scrambling across his goal.
Two minutes later some good work by Watt crreated a chance for Daly but Steven Jackson did just enough to block his shot from the edge of the six yard box.
After an hour Shire failed to clear the ball out of their own box and Martin McBride hit a powerful shot only to be denied a goal by a great full-length diving save from Antell who pushed the ball behind.
But Shire had chances too. After 66 minutes a great Stirling pass released Alex Lurinsky down the right but his shot from a tight angle flew across the face of goal and behind.
Hiowever, some more great skill gave Shire the lead after 73 minutes. A brilliant bit of trickery by Maxwell created the space and time for a shot which Parry got down well to block.
The Shire midfielder, though, sent the rebound looping towards the empty net and Parry, in trying to make a save, only succeeded in knocking the ball over the line.
But the Shire advantage lasted only five minutes. A clearance out of defence was fluffed completely and the ball fed through to Lomngworth who scored with a low shot in at the far post.
Things could have unravelled completely for Shire after 81 minutes after Rhys Devlin held back Longworth inside the box. Referee John McKendrick pointed to the penalty spot but McBride’s shot was well-saved by Antell to keep the scores level.
In injury-time Shire had two glorious chances to win the match. First substitute Fraser Team was clean through with only Parry to beat but his a weak shot straight at the visiting keeper.
Then, just a minute later, Stirling found himself in much the same position but his attempt to chip the ball over the advancing Parry into the net was poorly executed and the keeper saved.
In the fourth minute of injury-time those misses looked even more glaring when Longworth shot from the edge of the box for the winning goal with almost the last kick of the match.
SHIRE : Antell, Devlin, Dingwall(Sheerin 84), Cane, Jackson, Hunter, Lurinsky(Ramage 80), Stirling, Turner(Team 76), Horner, Maxwell.
QUEEN’S PARK : Parry, McGinn, Burns, Meggatt, Brough, Anderson, Watt, McBride, Daly(Quinn 70), Longworth, Murray(Ronald 80).
REFEREE : J. McKendrick
ATTENDANCE : 349.