A constant assault on East Stirlingshire’s goal should have sealed the deal to take the Lichties back to the top of the league but a one chance, one goal steal from East Stirling saw them miss out on the crucial three points.
Hitting the park with menace and a renewed vigour, the Lichties had all the hallmarks of a team prepared to fight for the glory.
Paul McManus set the tone of the 90 minutes opening the attack on the visitors’ goal just four minutes in.
From the centre of the box McManus sent the shot whistling past the post.
Bobby Linn continued the campaign five minutes later with another near miss from the right after East Stirlingshire’s David Bates conceded a corner.
Despite speed and pace being evenly matched the home side continued to demonstrate the pressing edge driving fast into the Shire’s half.
Liam Gordon picked up a Maroon corner in the 26th minute, for another attempt on goal, only for the header to scud past the post.
McManus and Simon Murray didn’t waste any time in firing balls towards the target but failed to make any impression on the solid Shire defence.
A frustrating trio of corners provided the Lichties with another flurry of opportunities to complete on goal, but the moment passed with yet again, nothing to show for it.
Dylan Carreiro and Kieran Stewart both had another pop at the cherry with no success before the referee’s whistle signalled an end to the first half.
Kicking off the second half Arbroath continued to batter the visitor’s goal but despite chances Murray, McManus and Adam Hunter still couldn’t negotiate the Shire’s robust defence.
It was not until the 71st minute that East Stirlingshire proved one chance is all it takes, as Ross Gilmour took a close range shot to make it 1-0, and the score remained the same until full time.
East Stirlingshire’s manager Craig Tully was not ashamed to admit it was an unexpected win. He said: “It was a robbery tonight! That’s the biggest steal of the season.
“We’re not going to complain. We’ve beaten the top three teams. The league could go anyway now. I couldn’t honestly pick out of the top three who’s going to win.”
Incensed Arbroath manager Allan Moore failed to hide his disdain. He said: “I’m not going to come out and talk about us dominating games and being unlucky. Unlucky is not going to win leagues.
“There’s no point in standing making excuses for them. It’s the same old story.
“From now on I am going to let the players do the talking.
“At the end of the day with the possession that we had, the chances that we had, we didn’t use them to put the ball in the net.
“It’s all down to the players now.
“I’ve had a word with them and told them, no matter how well you play, how much they say they stole it, it doesn’t make any difference, we’ve got to win the games.
“Winning games takes putting the ball in the net and keeping it out of our end and that’s something we’ve not done in four games now.”
The runaway lead from the first half of the season is the thorn in the side of Arbroath’s confidence and without the focus on finishing, along with keeping a clean scoresheet, it is difficult to see them clearing a path to claw their way back in sight of contention.