Joe Cardle’s last-minute goal sent Raith into Wednesday’s second-round draw as we suffered a heartbreaking defeat in the Ramsdens Cup.
The former Dunfermline winger seized on an error by Jamie McCunnie and raced clear to smash the ball past David Crawford as extra time loomed.
Last season’s top scorer Jordan White had equalised from the penalty spot just two minutes from time, confidently converting after Stephen Day had been tripped by Raith keeper David McGurn as he latched on to a Sandy Cunningham pass.
Rovers broke the deadlock in 74 minutes when Crawford’s attempted clearance from a Chris Smith pass-back went straight to Kevin Moon and the ex-St Johnstone midfielder steered the ball home via the right-hand post.
Binos boss Greig McDonald was without David McClune and the game also came too soon for Bradley Coyne so the starting XI was much as expected, although we lost full-back Ross McGeachie after a clash of heads during the first half.
There was a scare when Liam Fox’s effort was cleared off the line but we were generally comfortable in the first 45 minutes and had a strong penalty appeal turned down when Graham Weir’s shot struck a hand.
Rovers upped the pace after the break and ex-Albion striker Gordon Smith thought he had earned a penalty, only for referee Euan Norris to book him for diving when he went down under a challenge from Jamie Bishop.
Grant Murray’s men came close again when Callum Booth fired wide but they went ahead when Moon punished Crawford’s mistake, only for the keeper to then produce a stunning save to keep out Calum Elliot’s 25-yarder.
Substitute Greig Spence had the ball in the net but his effort was ruled out for offside. Rovers looked in control at that point but, in a dramatic finish, they needed a last-gasp Cardle goal after White had levelled from the spot as they avenged a 2009 defeat by the Binos in this competition.
It was a hard to defeat to take but the performance was very encouraging as we prepare to face Hamilton in the first round of the League Cup at Forthbank next week.
Our trialist on the bench was former Raith youth team goalkeeper Michael Lee.
Raith Rovers: McGurn, Thomson, Booth, Watson, Hill, Fox, Cardle, Moon, Smith (Spence 64), Elliot, Anderson.
Subs (not used): Callachan, Ellis, Vaughan, Laidlaw (GK).
Scorers: Moon 74, Cardle 90
Stirling Albion: Crawford, McGeachie (Cunningham 32), Forsyth, McCunnie, Bishop, Smith, Johnston, Ferry, White, Weir (Day 83), McAnespie.
Subs (not used): Ashe, Clark, Trialist (GK).
Scorer: White (pen) 88
Referee: Euan Norris