Formartine United battled back from 3-1 down to beat Buckie Thistle 4-3 on Saturday and go clear at the top of the league.
But they left it late at North Lodge Park with the winner coming from leading scorer Cammy Keith in the dying seconds.
The victory puts them in front of Wick with games in hand, but Brora are lurking ominously, still with an unbeaten league record.
This was never going to be easy for Formartine who were without top team regulars, McVitie (hamstring injury), Park (shoulder damage) and Clark (suspended) and after their debacle at Nairn, were desperate to get back to winning ways as quickly as possible.
In heavy showers and a strong wind, they started at pace and swiftly established a pattern where they had the visitors pretty well hemmed into their own territory.
United took the lead in the 13th minute when Napier charged down a full-blooded Duncan clearance before controlling the ball and sending a high curling shot past Main.
Buckie battled back and drew level in the 35th minute. Carrol’s free kick was headed past the diving Shearer by Smith.
The home side went back on the offensive, with the Jags counter-attacking and it paid off for the visitors three minutes before the interval.
Conway got past McKeown and his hard, accurate drive left Shearer with no chance.
The second half continued in the same vein and Buckie extended their lead in the 57th minute when the wind and rain seemed to divert a Carrol effort over Shearer and into the net.
However, Mike Ewen gave the home support some hope in the 65th minute when he made it 3-2 with a classy finish.
And Munro levelled the match with a 35-yard screamer which set up a grandstand finish.
Formartine laid siege to the Thistle goal and grabbed the winner in the dying seconds. Keith spun off his marker and from the edge of the area drove the ball beyond Main.
Formartine United: Shearer, Jeffrey, S.Smith, McKeown, Faroe, Bagshaw, Munro, Napier, Keith, Ewen, Hamill. Substitutes Donnelly, MacDonald, Davidson, Calder.
Buckie Thistle: Main, Wood, Duncan, Hegarty, McKinnnon, MacRae, Conway, Angus, Smith, Baxter, Carrol. Substitutes: MacMillan, Sutherland, Davidson, Noble, Bell.