Nathan Austin hit a hat-trick as East Fife claimed a deserved victory at a rain-lashed Forthbank on Boxing Day.
Gary Naysmith’s men gained revenge for a Scottish Cup defeat here last month as our run of five straight home wins came to an end.
Albion took the lead with an early own goal from Jason Kerr but Austin’s double had East Fife ahead by the break and he completed his treble 10 minutes from time.
Stuart McLaren named an unchanged team to the one that defeated leaders Annan 1-0 before Christmas, with Ross McMillan and Craig Beattie ruled out.
East Fife arrived at Forthbank having only beaten East Stirlingshire since the end of September but they look a much better side than that and threatened after only 60 seconds when Austin went one-on-one with keeper Chris Smith, only to be booked for diving when he felt he had been brought down.
Ross Brown hit the post for the visitors before we took the lead with a fortunate goal. Darren Smith’s effort was saved by Ryan Goodfellow but the ball rebounded off on-loan St Johnstone man Kerr and rolled over the line.
The Methil men were soon back on the attack and Smith twice did well to deny Austin before he equalised in 20 minutes, converting a right-wing cross from close range.
Jonathan Page then missed a good opportunity but we enjoyed a better spell towards the end of the half – Steven Doris tested Goodfellow, Darren Smith had a shot blocked and Ross Smith headed a Mark Lamont free-kick narrowly wide.
But it was East Fife who took the lead in first-half stoppage time – possession was carelessly conceded and the ball was eventually shuttled to Austin, who made no mistake with a well-struck low drive beyond Chris Smith.
We started the second half strongly and a ball was cleared off the line before Sean Dickson fired wide but we struggled to make inroads thereafter.
East Fife’s Fraser Mullen struck the bar with a free-kick and Austin made sure of victory when he headed home a perfect cross from sub Craig Murray.
We remain fifth in the table, four points behind leaders Annan, at the halfway stage of the campaign in Ladbrokes League 2.
Stirling Albion: C Smith, Verlaque, McKinlay, McGeachie, R Smith, Mazel (Kouider-Aissa 76), Lamont, Robertson, Doris, D Smith, Dickson (Johnston 66).
Subs (not used): Hamilton, Comrie, Cunningham, Forsyth, Binnie (GK).
Scorer: Kerr og 9
East Fife: Goodfellow, Mullen, Slattery, Campbell (Murray 77), Page, Brown, Austin (Insall 89), Wilkie, O’Kane, Mercer, Kerr.
Subs (not used): Naysmith, Trialist, MacDonald, Connon (GK).
Scorer: Austin 20, 45, 80
Referee: Craig Napier