Falkirk cruised to victory as our Betfred Cup Group A campaign got off to a disappointing start with a poor performance in the rain at the Falkirk Stadium.
We beat the Bairns 1-0 at Forthbank 12 months ago but Peter Houston’s men gained revenge with an emphatic victory and in truth they could have won by a bigger margin.
Nathan Austin, Joe McKee and Alex Harris all scored before the break and Aaron Muirhead converted a penalty before Darren Smith pulled one back late on.
Binos boss Dave Mackay gave debuts to summer signings Ewan McNeil, Steven Noble and Peter MacDonald and 18-year-old defender Kyle Banner made his first-team bow as a late sub. Ross Smith and Andy Little were ruled out through injury.
There was a fairly low-key opening to the game but the Bairns were dictating possession and it was no surprise when they went ahead in 24 minutes. Rory Loy looked offside but wasn’t when he got clear on the right flank but the flag stayed down and he picked out Austin for a simple finish.
McKee found space in the box to fire the ball past Cammy Binnie just two minutes later and last season’s Championship runners-up struck again in 39 minutes when ex-Hibs winger Alex Harris fired a low shot into the net at the end of a slick move.
There was no let-up after the break and Falkirk squandered a succession of chances before Muirhead made no mistake from the spot after Ross McGeachie had handled.
Home substitute Lee Miller struck the bar then Darren Smith did likewise with a header from a corner before last year’s joint-top scorer gave Robbie Thomson no chance with a good strike from around 18 yards with three minutes left.
The Binos now face Inverness CT – who beat Brechin 3-0 – at Forthbank on Tuesday night before travelling to Forfar next Saturday.
Falkirk: Thomson, Muirhead, Grant, McKee (Kerr 69), Taiwo, Austin (Miller 63), Gasparotto, Harris, Gallacher, Craigen, Loy (O’Hara 72).
Subs (not used): Mitchell (GK), Hippolyte, Shepherd, Watson.
Goals: Austin 24, McKee 26, Harris 39, Muirhead pen 57
Stirling Albion: Binnie, McGeachie (Banner 83), Noble, Davidson, McNeil (Morrison 73), Robertson (Black 73), Caddis, Dickson, D Smith, Kavanagh, MacDonald.
Subs (not used): Fallens (GK), McMullan, Henderson, Cameron.
Goal: D Smith 87
Referee: David Lowe