Play-off spot now under threat

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Arbroath’s disastrous 2015 goes from bad to worse as they dropped another three points on Saturday away to East Stirlingshire.

The Lichties’ form in three months has been appalling and there are now real question marks over whether or not they can hold on to a play-off spot with East Fife breathing down their necks.

And to be honest on current form is there any point in them making the play-offs?

The gale which blew across Ochilview might have been seen to favour the visitors, who, after all, know a thing or two about playing in a gale but it was Shire who mastered the tricky conditions the best and emerged from a difficult match worthy winners.

It was not an afternoon for silky football but, nevertheless, the Shire players created enough openings during the 90 minutes to keep the fans entertained and everyone was treated to a wonder goal from on-loan striker Partick Thistle striker Kevin Nisbet which was worth the price of admission on its own.

The match-winner was Nisbet’s fifth goal in seven outings for Shire who now have won seven of their last ten matches and sit on the outer fringes of the promotion play-offs.

It took Shire some time to get the measure of this game. The windy conditions were difficult and even with the gale at their backs in the first half it took time to adjust.

The opening quarter was, as a consequence, fairly uneventful but just after that mark Shire did burst into life. On-loan Celtic youngster Luke Donnelly created the first real chance with a ball into the box that found David McKenna at the back post. His shot was hard and accurate but visiting keeper Marc McCallum produced a great save to deny him.

The pressure built on the Arbroath goal and not long after Chris Townsley’s header from David Greenhill’s corner kick flashed just wide. Then, on 24 minutes, Nisbet’s shot from 20 yards caught the ball’s sweet spot and his effort flew in an arc, dipping perfectly over the helpless McCallum to give Shire the advantage.

The goal settled Shire. Connor Greene might have doubled the lead with a header from another Greenhill corner which crashed off the crossbar while Lloyd Kinnaird’s shot from a tight angle flew across the face of goal and wide.

Against that, the visitors had a penalty shout waved away by referee John McKendrick when Johnstone went down in the box after tangling with Neil McCabe.

The second period began brightly for Shire and Donnelly’s perfect pass sent Nisbet racing clear but the keeper saved. Not long after the same combination gave Nisbet another scoring chance but McCallum made a great save with his legs.

Arbroath tied to get back into things. Late on Stewart rippled the side netting with a shot and substitute Simon Murray went down in the Shire box after a tussle with McCabe but the shouts for a penalty fell on deaf ears.