It was a hugely disappointing start to 2016 as we were beaten by East Stirlingshire in the New Year derby.
First-half goals from David McKenna and Thomas Orr had Craig Tully’s side in command and, although Kevin McKinlay and sub Craig Beattie struck after the break, McKenna’s second of the day between those replies saw Shire notch up their sixth home win of the season.
We made the short journey having won 3-2 on our previous visit back on September and were aiming to bounce back from the 3-1 defeat to East Fife on Boxing Day.
Our hosts were four points adrift of Montrose at the foot of the table but have cut that gap to a single point after an impressive response to a 4-0 home defeat to Berwick Rangers in their last outing on December 19.
Albion remain fifth in Ladbrokes League 2 with our next match away to leaders Elgin in a fortnight – before then we welcome Scottish Cup holders Inverness CT to Forthbank.
Binos boss Stuart McLaren made one change to the team beaten last week, with Ross Forsyth replacing Ross Smith, but we couldn’t have got off to a worse start.
McKenna, our former striker, took advantage of some slack defending to cut in and fire past Chris Smith after 90 seconds.
We hit back strongly and Steven Doris was denied by Richie Barnard before the keeper did well to push Sean Dickson’s header from a Mark Lamont cross over the bar.
Shire doubled their lead in 20 minutes when teenage forward Orr, making his debut after moving on loan from Morton, seized on a loose ball and beat Smith with a fine low finish into the corner.
McKinlay got us right back in the game four minutes after the interval when Lamont’s corner was nodded back into the danger area and the full-back’s header went in off the bar and crossed the line before being hacked clear for his first Albion goal.
Dickson fired over as we took the game to East Stirling but it was the home side who got the all-important next goal midway through the second half when an inswinging corner from Nathan Shepherd was headed home at the near post by McKenna.
Beattie reduced the deficit in 77 minutes when he smashed the ball home after it had been nodded into his path and Doris had a decent chance to equalise but his shot was too high and East Stirlingshire saw out the closing minutes in relative comfort.
East Stirlingshire: Barnard, Gilmour, Shepherd, Cairnie, Townsley, McMullin, Faulds, McCabe, Orr (Wright 86), McKenna, Donaldson (Lynas 67).
Subs (not used): Murray, Kinnaird, Wallace, Green, Dolan (GK).
Scorers: McKenna 2, 68, Orr 20
Stirling Albion: C Smith, Verlaque (Comrie 46), McKinlay, McGeachie, Forsyth, Mazel (Beattie 71), Lamont, Robertson, Doris, D Smith, Dickson (Johnston 71).
Subs (not used): R Smith, Cunningham, Kouider-Aissa, Binnie (GK).
Scorers: McKinlay 49, Beattie 77
Referee: Mike Taylor