Darryl Duffy grabbed a first-half hat-trick as we got 2020 off to a perfect start with a comfortable victory at the Reigart Stadium.

Albion Rovers had enjoyed an unbeaten December and were seeking a fourth straight home win but we dominated the first half to make it back-to-back away victories.

We go into next weekend’s home match with leaders Cove Rangers having climbed to fifth place in the table, just four points outside the play-offs.

Binos boss Kevin Rutkiewicz made one change to the team that won 2-0 at Stenhousemuir, with Danny Jardine replacing the suspended Kevin Nicoll. Blair Currie, Cammy Thomson, Jordan Lowdon and Paul Willis were all ruled out. Trialist Jay Elliot again provided cover on the bench for Cammy Binnie, who took a knock in the first half but was able to continue after treatment.

We had lost 2-1 and finished with nine men on our last visit to Coatbridge in August but this was a much more enjoyable 90 minutes for the big travelling support.

There were good chances at both ends before Stirling were awarded a penalty after just five minutes when Bryan Wharton carelessly fouled Duffy and the experienced striker tucked away the spot-kick, low to the keeper’s left.

We always looked like adding to our lead and were gifted the second goal shortly after the half-hour mark. It was a nightmare for Rovers as midfielder Jack Breen sent the ball straight to Duffy, who went through on goal and confidently beat Ryan Goodfellow with a low finish.

It was game over when Duffy struck again five minutes before the break with his six goal of the season. David Wilson did well in the build-up and a defender touched the ball into the path of Duffy, who thumped a low drive beyond Goodfellow to complete his hat-trick.

The second half was something of a non-event in comparison. Rovers had a couple of chances to reduce the deficit but Binnie didn’t have too much to do.

Duffy might have had a fourth goal but his lob was too high, Dylan Mackin rattled a 20 yarder narrowly wide and Max Wright had an effort ruled out for offside after being played in by Jardine, who would have been better taking the shot on himself.

Albion Rovers: Goodfellow, Lynas, Phillips, Wharton, Krones, Paterson (Doherty 85), Roberts (Graham 66), Breen, East, Byrne (See 66) Scally. Subs (not used): Potts (GK), McDonald, Osadolor.

Stirling Albion: Binnie, McGeachie, Creaney, Jardine, McLean, McGregor (Banner 71), Wilson, Docherty, Wright (Truesdale 88) Mackin, Duffy (Bikey 76). Subs (not used): Elliot (GK), Scott, Peters, Heaver.

Goals: Duffy pen 6, 33, 40

Referee: Kevin Graham

Crowd: 484