Our IRN-BRU Cup run ended at the first hurdle as Montrose ran out deserved winners at Forthbank on Tuesday night to book their place in Thursday’s second-round draw.
Andrew Steeves broke the deadlock just before the break and Cammy Ballantyne added a second-half double before Darren Smith pulled one back late on.
It was a hugely disappointing performance by the Binos as our four-game winning run came to an end but we will hope to bounce back against Edinburgh City on Saturday.
Dave Mackay made five changes from the weekend while Stewart Petrie altered six of his starting XI. We had to do without winger Callumn Morrison, who was on duty with the Hearts’ U20 side, helping them beat Formartine 3-2.
We did OK in the early part of the game and Darren Smith fired just wide and Connor McMullan sent an effort over while Iain Campbell and Kerr Hay came close at the other end.
Ross Campbell released Steeves to beat Mark Foden with a cool finish as the interval approached and it was all over in 56 minutes when Ballantyne swept the ball home after good build-up play down the left.
Montrose were solid, strong and organised in the second half and we barely created a chance before on-loan Dundee United man Ballantyne slammed the ball home from the edge of the box for a terrific third goal in 85 minutes, with former Bino Connor McLaren involved in creating the opportunity.
Smith reduced the deficit with his fifth goal of the season when he pounced from close range after Ross Kavanagh, probably our best player on the night, had done well to create the opening.
Stirling Albion: Foden, McGeachie, Hamilton (Noble 46), McNeil, R Smith, McMullan (Black 60), Caddis, Cameron, D Smith, Kavanagh, Robertson. Subs (not used): Binnie (GK), Davidson, Evans, Banner.
Goal: D Smith 90
Montrose: Millar, Steeves, Allan, Webster (Thomson 82), Watson, Hay (McLaren 60), Dillon, Redman, I Campbell, R Campbell (Johnston 71), Ballantyne. Subs (not used): Templeman, Callaghan, Fleming (GK).
Goals: Steeves 45, Ballantyne 56, 85
Referee: Peter Stuart