Ladbrokes League 2 leaders Edinburgh City notched up their 12th straight win as Kevin Rutkiewicz’s first game in charge of the Binos ended in a narrow defeat.
A 38th-minute goal from City skipper Craig Thomson made the difference on a chilly afternoon at Forthbank and keeps James McDonaugh’s men two points clear of Peterhead at the top of the table.
Darren Barr made only his second appearance of the season after a knee injury and took over the captaincy from Ross McGeachie. Former Livingston and Falkirk striker Dylan Mackin made his debut and Alan Gow featured for the second time as a trialist.
Last season’s top scorer Darren Smith made the bench but Lee Hamilton, Mark Stewart, Calum Ferrie and Kyle Banner were all ruled out through injury.
City, who ran out 3-1 winners when the teams met at Ainslie Park in August, included former Binos Blair Henderson, Andy Black and Scott Shepherd. They started well and Cammy Binnie was called into action after top scorer Henderson had an effort blocked.
Albion grew into the game and Danny Jardine was narrowly off target with a 20-yarder then Gow was just too high with a free-kick a couple of minutes later.
We were holding our own against a strong City side but fell behind towards the end of the half when Thomson’s header sneaked past Binnie, who looked to have it covered. It was a bad goal to lose but the Albion No 1 made two important stops before the break as the visitors chased a second.
Chances were scarce after the interval – Henderson came close for the capital club after great work by Graham Taylor while Mackin had a shot blocked at the other end. Binnie saved well from Shepherd and McDonaugh’s men closed the game out to make it five clean sheets in the last six matches with a strong team performance.
There was plenty of commitment from Stirling and positives to take for new manager Rutkiewicz and assistant Martin Hardie but we didn’t manage to trouble keeper Calum Antell too often as Edinburgh City won at Forthbank for the first time.
Stirling Albion: Binnie, McGeachie, Allan, Marr, Docherty, Barr, Jardine, McLaughlin (Thomson 76), Gow (McLaren 61), Mackin, Moon (Hughes 73). Subs (not used): Law (GK), Smith, Miller, Rutkiewicz.
Edinburgh City: Antell, Thomson, McIntyre, Black, Balatoni, Smith, Henderson, Taylor (Hall 87), Rodger, Shepherd (Watson 80), Henderson. Subs (not used): Finnie, Kennedy, McClung, Morton, Lumsden.
Scorer: Thomson 38
Referee: Chris Graham