Stirling slumped to a fourth straight defeat and are still not certain of a play-off place going into the last game of the season.
A draw against Stenhousemuir at Forthbank will be enough but Clyde are three points back (and six goals worse off) so still have an outside chance of overhauling Dave Mackay’s men if they run up a big score at home to Berwick Rangers.
It was hot and sunny at Galabank but Albion faded badly after a bright start. Neil McLaughlin fired us in front from the edge of the box with his fourth goal of the season after seven minutes, following good work by Danny Jardine, but we again failed to keep the back door shut.
Blair Henderson, who left Forthbank in August, bagged a hat-trick for Peter Murphy’s men as they gained revenge for a 3-0 defeat in Stirling in February.
Top scorer Darren Smith and defender Lee Hamilton were back from injury and skipper Willie Robertson returned after a one-match ban but Andy Little was ruled out.
We looked comfortable and in control after going ahead through McLaughlin but Henderson equalised with a spectacular overhead kick in 20 minutes and fired Annan ahead with a superb finish high into the net three minutes after the interval after being played in by Scott Roberts.
Henderson grabbed his third goal from close range in 62 minutes and Annan, who hit the post in the first half, were denied by the woodwork again in stoppage time.
Darren Barr and McLaughlin came close for the Binos in the second half but we were well beaten and are now without a win in six matches.
Annan Athletic: Mitchell, Brannan, Horne, Henry (Hooper 79), Sonkur, Swinglehurst, Sinnamon (Moxon 72), O’Keefe (Armour 76), Smith, Henderson, Roberts. Subs (not used): Atkinson (GK), Salkeld, Hannay, Creaney.
Goals: Henderson 20, 48, 62
Stirling Albion: Binnie, McGeachie, Hamilton, McNeil, Barr, Moon (Kavanagh 64), McLaughlin, Jardine, MacDonald (Caddis 68), D Smith, Robertson (Dickson 64). Subs (not used): Wight (GK), Stanger, R Smith, Black.
Goal: McLaughlin 7
Referee: Mat Northcroft