Aberdeenshire’s promotion prospects were dealt a huge blow on Saturday when they were beaten by Peebles in the Borders.
Peebles are hard on the heels of National 2 leaders Cartha Queens Park and second-placed Kelso.
Alex Duncan, the Shire coach, felt his players had given a good account of themselves against one of the leading sides in the division.
The former Aberdeen Grammar coach: “Since we lost narrowly at home to them in October, Peebles have improved immeasurably and will almost certainly feature in the promotion race.
“It was a good allround performance from my players, despite the continual infringing of the Peebles forwards which was not picked up by the referee. Our pack was in good form and captain Greig Ryan was again a standout.
“Despite the disappointment of the loss this display bodes well for our Scottish Cup game at Jedburgh next weekend.”
Shire were in contention at half-time and looked in a position to spring a surprise against the Gytes men, who were able to raise the stakes in the second half, albeit thanks to a back row persistently going offside at crucial moments.
The Shire first-half scores came from Ryan and winger Luke Taylor, while stand-off Carne Green kicked a conversion and a penalty. In second half Shire had to settle for a lone try from centre Nat Coe.
The Woodsiders remain in fifth place but 22 points behind leaders Cartha and 20 in arrears of second-placed Kelso.