Mitch Megginson converted a late penalty to end our seven-match unbeaten run as Cove moved five points clear of Edinburgh City at the top of the Ladbrokes League 2 table.
Paul Hartley’s men had won five out of five at home, scoring 17 goals in the process, but we very nearly earned a draw on our first visit to the Balmoral Stadium.
There were just two minutes left when Megginson struck his spot-kick low inside the left-hand post for his ninth league goal of the season after Paul McLean had handled the ball following a corner.
It was hard one to take for Kevin Rutkiewicz and his players, as well as the healthy travelling support in a crowd of 825 on a chilly afternoon in the North East.
Binos boss Rutkiewicz made one change to the team that won 3-0 against Albion Rovers as left-back James Creaney replaced Cammy Thomson. Josh Peters, Dylan Bikey, Jordan Lowdon, Gareth Rodger and Craig Truesdale were again ruled out through injury.
Cove had most of the ball in the first half but we defended stoutly throughout and it was only in the five minutes before the break that Blair Currie was called into meaningful action, doing well to tip over a McLean header and prevent an own goal, then turning a Declan Glass shot round the post.
Sean Heaver’s 25-yard drive forced a fine save from Stuart McKenzie two minutes after the restart and we should have gone ahead midway through the second half when Danny Jardine’s perfect pass released Darryl Duffy but McKenzie got down to save his low shot.
Jamie Masson came close at the other end and on-loan Dundee United midfielder Glass was causing problems at times but the back four were outstanding as we again showed why we have the best defensive record in League 2.
Cove made the breakthrough with time running out when Megginson converted his penalty and substitute John Robertson should have added a second goal deep into stoppage time.
The result leaves us ninth in the table, three points above bottom club Brechin City and six short of the promotion play-offs.
Cove Rangers: McKenzie, Milne, Scully (Scott 81), Ross, Yule, Megginson, Masson, Higgins, Glass, Aird (Robertson 75), Fyvie. Subs (not used): McCafferty (GK), Redford, Redman, Brown.
Scorer: Megginson pen 88
Stirling Albion: Currie, McGeachie, Creaney (Mackin 88), Nicoll, McLean, McGregor, Jardine, Wilson (Docherty 46), Heaver (Thomson 65), Duffy, Willis. Subs (not used): Binnie (GK), Banner, Wright, Hawke.
Referee: Grant Irvine