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Darren Smith’s fourth goal of the season earned Stirling a superb win away to leaders Edinburgh City in a tight game of few chances at Ainslie Park.

Smith pounced from close range following a corner six minutes after half-time and that proved enough to inflict only a third league defeat of the season on James McDonaugh’s men.

Albion had been beaten twice by City this season but were strong and organised and kept Blair Henderson – with 18 League 2 goals to his name already this season – largely quiet.

It means we have lost just once in eight matches going into a huge game with fourth-placed Annan Athletic at Forthbank on Saturday. We are seventh in the table, seven points behind the Galabankies but have a game in hand.

Binos boss Kevin Rutkiewicz made two changes to the team that beat Cowdenbeath 2-1, with Kyle Banner and Cammy Thomson replacing Jason Marr and Dylan Mackin, who had both suffered from knocks and were on the bench. Mark Stewart, Lee Hamilton and Kevin Moon were again ruled out.

The home side, held 2-2 at Berwick in their last outing, were without former Albion midfielder Andy Black while influential defender Conrad Balatoni was forced off after 20 minutes.

On a grey and chilly afternoon in the capital this was a hard-fought affair with chances at a premium. Blair Henderson had a couple of openings but didn’t make the most of them and Scott Shepherd wasn’t far away with a shot on the turn that flew wide.

Stirling came close towards half-time when Dom Docherty fired over following a good run into the box by Danny Jardine but we made the breakthrough early in the second half when Smith struck after the ball had bounced around in the box.

Calum Ferrie made a good save from a Blair Henderson header as City chased an equaliser but we defended extremely well against their direct approach and held on relatively comfortably.

Ross McGeachie and Kyle Banner were immense in the centre of defence but it was a real team performance that laid the foundations for only our second away league win of the season.

Edinburgh City: Antell, Thomson, McIntyre, Balatoni (Rodger 20), Laird, Smith, B Henderson, Shepherd (Hall 76), Watson (Taylor 66), L Henderson, Galbraith. Subs (not used): Morton (GK), Donaldson, Kennedy, Lumsden.

Stirling Albion: Ferrie, McGeachie, Allan, Hughes, Horne, Banner, Jardine, Docherty, MacDonald, Smith, Thomson. Subs (not used): Binnie (GK), Rutkiewicz, McLaughlin, McLaren, Mackin, Marr.

Scorer: Smith 51

Referee: Duncan Williams

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