Goalkeeper Sam Filler and defender Gary Thom were red carded in the first half as Annan gained revenge for their 5-1 opening-day defeat at Forthbank to notch up their second successive 5-2 victory in Division Three.
Manager Greig McDonald was also sent to the stand early in the second period on the advice of the assistant referee, presumably for protesting too loudly.
A double from Ally Love and goals from Scott Chaplain, Kieran McGachie and sub Michael Daly lifted Harry Cairney’s team to third in the table as Albion’s brave second-half fightback, which saw Graham Weir and Stephen Day peg Annan back to 3-2 at one stage, ultimately proved in vain. We remain bottom of the table, two points adrift of East Stirlingshire.
McDonald made two changes to the team beaten by Deveronvale in the Scottish Cup – Marc McCulloch and Mark Ferry returned in place of Ross McGeachie (injured) and Scott Davidson, who dropped to the bench.
Ferry came close before our day started to unravel midway through the first half. Ex-Motherwell forward McGachie burst through the defence and was felled just outside the box by Sam Filler, who was dismissed by referee Gavin Ross.
It took Annan eight minutes to make their numerical advantage count. Chris Jardine’s curling shot came back off the post and former St Mirren midfielder Love converted the rebound.
Eight minutes later, it was 2-0. Mark Peat failed to hold a long-range shot and Scott Chaplain pounced. Jardine was then denied by the woodwork for a second time before Thom won the ball in a hard challenge with McGachie, only to be sent off.
That sparked a melee and left Albion needing a miracle – and for a time it looked on. Weir pulled one back with a fine finish from the edge of the box, Jordan White headed against the top of the bar and Day hooked home after McGachie had danced through the defence to score Annan’s third.
Only a last-ditch tackle denied Day when he looked set to equalise but the hosts finally made the points safe in the closing minutes. Daly beat the offside trap and found the net with a low drive then Love scored from close range as Annan maintained their unbeaten league run on their new artificial pitch.
Annan: Mitchell, Blake, McGowan, Steele, Watson, Chaplain (Sloan 63), Ramage (Daly 63), Jardine (Thorburn 69), McGachie, McKechnie, Love. Subs (not used): Donley, Summersgill (GK).
Scorers: Love 29, 89, Chaplain 37, McGachie 67, Daly 85
Stirling Albion: Filler, McClune, McCulloch, McCunnie (Peat 23), Thom, Allison, Day (Davidson 87), McSorley, G Weir (Flood 76), White, Ferry. Subs (not used): Brass, Clark.
Scorers: G Weir 60, Day 73
Referee: Gavin Ross