Elgin twice came from behind to book their place in Monday afternoon’s Petrofac Training Cup second-round draw as our 2015/16 campaign got off to a disappointing start.
We had won 3-0 here at the same stage of the competition 12 months ago but Jim Weir’s men gained revenge in the first part of a double header that sees us return to Borough Briggs at the end of August.
Binos boss Stuart McLaren went into the game without the injured quartet of Darren Smith, Steven Doris, Ross McMillan and Kevin McKinlay.
There were first appearances for goalkeeper Chris Smith, Mark Staunton, Ross Smith, Jon Paul McGovern, Craig Beattie and Sean Dickson on a perfect day for football.
Conor McKenzie from our U20 squad and recent signing Salim Kouider-Aissa were also handed their debuts as late substitutes.
Sandy Cunningham missed a great chance before we took the lead in 19 minutes. Beattie, signed on Thursday after playing for Ayr last season, took advantage of a mix-up between on-loan St Johnstone keeper Mark Hurst and a defender and kept his cool to fire home from the edge of the box.
Johnston lifted the ball over after being picked out by Ross Forsyth before Elgin almost equalised when Daniel Moore’s speculative effort from the left wing hit the post.
The hosts drew level just before the break when Ross Smith was penalised for a push in the box and Craig Gunn confidently sent Chris Smith the wrong way from the spot.
Albion regained the lead nine minutes after half-time. An excellent passing move ended with Johnston’s shot coming back off the post and Cunningham was on hand to tap in the rebound.
We looked in control at that stage and missed a couple of good opportunities before Elgin made it 2-2 on the hour mark. A corner was only partially cleared and, when the ball was driven back into the box, skipper Jamie Duff diverted it into the net.
The goal lifted City and they booked their place in the next round with seven minutes remaining, Brian Cameron slamming the ball past Smith from inside the area.
Elgin City: Hurst, Nicolson (Bruce 62) McHardy, Gordon, Duff, McLean, McKenzie, Cameron, Gunn, Macleod, Moore. Subs (not used): Trialist, Kennedy, Macphee, Black (GK).
Scorers: Gunn pen 42, Duff 60, Cameron 83
Stirling Albion: C Smith, Hamilton, Forsyth (McKenzie 90) Robertson, Staunton, R Smith, Johnston (Comrie 71) McGovern, Beattie, Dickson (Kouider-Aissa 90) Cunningham. Subs (not used): Scott Davidson, McGeachie, Binnie (GK).
Scorers: Beattie 19, Cunningham 54
Referee: Ryan Milne