The Northern Irishman nodded home a 75th-minute winner to give the Gers a crucial 2-1 win over Queen of the South at Palmerston in the first leg of the Scottish Premiership play-off quarter-final.
Stevie Smith’s stunning free-kick had given the visitors the lead before Derek Lyle’s equalised for Queens. However, thanks to Shiels’ header, Rangers will now take a vital lead back to Glasgow ahead of next Sunday’s return leg.
But Shiels has extra reason to smile after grabbing the winner which puts his side in the driving seat to face Hibernian in the semi-finals following some training ground ribbing from his Light Blues colleagues.
He told the club’s official website: “Obviously every goal is important when you are in these play-offs and they are hard to come by.
“I got into the box and it was a great cross from Fozzy (Richard Foster). I then managed to direct it into the net.
“I actually scored one like that in training yesterday and the lads were giving me a bit of stick about it. They keep saying I don’t head the ball enough so I had to show them it wasn’t a fluke.
“Obviously it was really pleasing to see it go in and it gave us a really good victory. It was just one of those games where we knew we had to come and dig in.
“It was going to be a tough game, it has been all season, and we had to come with a game plan and try to put it into place. We managed to do that and come away with a win which is a very good result for us.
“We’ll now be confident going into our next game at home. We know the job is far from over yet but hopefully if we can get the first goal it will put us in a good position.”
Rangers took the lead a minute before the break when Smith curled home a sensational free-kick as he made his first start in two months.
Queens striker Lyle levelled 20 minutes into the second half but Shiels produced the crucial winner which finally gives Gers some joy at a ground where they had already stumbled twice this season.
Praising full back Smith’s opening goal, Shiels added: “Stevie hasn’t played much football and he’s come in and done a great job here.
“We knew from before that he’s very dangerous from free kicks – he did it against Dundee United and in a few big games last season.
“He’s got a great left foot so anywhere around the box he’s got that quality; it was brilliant free-kick.”