The end to Shire’s Betfred Cup Group F campaign was a disappointing one as the team went down to a 2-0 defeat against League 2 Annan Athletic at Ochilview on Saturday.
John Sludden’s men could not translate their creditable showings against Premiership teams Rangers and Motherwell into the sort of display that they had hoped for when the odds were not staked up against them.
Defending in depth against the full-time sides was one thing but it was just as tough, in a different sort of way, against the Galabank side.
When asked to go and get the goals to win, Shire found Annan Athletic an insurmountable barrier to overcome.
Not that there was much in a game which started at a fair lick but wound down over time into what seemed a fairly standard pre-season fitness exercise.
The coach changed things around after naming the same eleven for two consecutive games. That meant a start for Scot Buist in defence and for Paul Sludden too with Kris Faulds and Adam Murray making way.
The pre-match optimism did not look at all misplaced in the early stages. Buist picked out Sludden wide on the right but his dangerous cross was cleared to safety.
Then the Shire man tried his luck from long-range but Annan keeper Blair Currie was up to the task.
At the other end Raffi Krissian’s header from a Max Wright corner grazed the crossbar and then Dylan McGuigan cracked one in from the edge of the box which went over.
But that energetic opening made way for a midfield tussle which was full of perspiration and very little inspiration.
The game did spring to life again around the half hour. First, Krissian shot across the face of goal and wide before, at the other end, Connor Hogg tried to curl a shot into the top corner of the goal only to miss the target.
Shire escaped on 36 minutes when Darren Dolan made a great save from Wright but when the rebound fell to Krissian it seemed all he had to do was tap-in to score. Instead he shanked the ball wide and Shire escaped.
Shire did start the second period on the front foot and David Grant would have been better off trying to shoot rather than passing the ball inside. Then Ross Fisher blasted over from 18 yards out.
Annan’s Aaron Bradbury missed a great chance to score on 52 minutes, blasting over from a tight angle while Sludden was given a free-kick on the edge of the box to try and fire Shire in front but his aim was wayward.
It was difficult to see where a goal was going to come from, but one duly arrived on 56 minutes when Annan substitute Ryan Finnie hit a curving, dipping half volley over Darren Dolan and into the net.
Shire tried to find a way back in but lacked a cutting edge. McGuigan tried his luck from range but shot over while substitute Andy Rodgers almost levelled with an effort from a tight angle.
In the last minute of normal time Rodgers sent David Grant clean through on goal but, with only the keeper to beat, he shot wide.
In injury time Sludden grappled with Rabin Omar inside his own penalty box and referee Mike Roncone pointed to the penalty spot. Max Wright doubled Annan’s Lead with the spot kick.
SHIRE : Dolan, MacGregor, Buist, Greene, D. Grant, Fisher, Sludden, Ure, McGuigan, D. Grant, Hogg.
ANNAN ATHLETIC : Currie, Black, Lucas, Krissian, Watson, Swinglehurst, Omar, Cuddihy, McKenna, Wright, Bradbury.
REFEREE : Mike Roncone.