Stirling ended the first quarter of the cinch League 2 campaign with a hard-fought victory at Borough Briggs.

It’s now five wins and a draw in the last six matches for Kevin Rutkiewicz’s side, who have no game this weekend but resume against Stranraer at Forthbank on Saturday October 16.

This success keeps the Binos within four points of leaders Kelty Hearts, who they face at the end of the month, and moves them four points clear of Annan in second place.

Goals late in each half from left-back Martin McNiff and substitute Dale Carrick earned Albion their first victory over Elgin in seven attempts since a 2-1 triumph here in November 2019.

The visitors were unchanged from the team that beat Cowdenbeath 4-0, with Paul McLean, Sean Heaver and Daniel Scally ruled out. City were missing striker Kane Hester and new loan signing Ross Draper from Cove Rangers was also absent.

Much of the first half was relatively tight but both sides had opportunities. In 28 minutes, Dylan Mackin picked out Jack Leitch with a perfect cross and the midfielder caught it beautifully but his volley was superbly saved by Tom McHale.

Gavin Price’s men almost broke the deadlock when Conor O’Keefe got clear and knocked the ball past Blair Currie but midfielder Kurtis Roberts recovered to hook it off the line.

It was a big moment in the game and there was another one in the third minute of first-half stoppage time, caused by an injury to Jordan McGregor that saw him forced off at the break.

Nathan Flanagan’s inswinging corner from the right was a dangerous delivery and McNiff got up to head home from six yards for his third goal of the season.

Elgin upped the tempo in the second half an on-loan Falkirk striker Jaime Wilson almost equalised within 30 seconds then midfielder Brian Cameron sent a shot just over.

Stirling were defending deep and were indebted to Currie when he made a fine block to thwart Tony Dingwall with 15 minutes left but the Binos withstood the home pressure and sealed the game on the break.

Flanagan provided his second assist of the day with a neat pass to play in Carrick – his initial effort was well saved by McHale but the ball rebounded against the summer signing from Airdrie and looped into the net.

Elgin City: McHale, Spark, MacPhee, McHardy, Grivosti, Mailer (Wilson 46), R Dingwall, Cameron, O’Keefe (Machado 72), MacEwan (Allen 90), T Dingwall (Sopel 85). Subs (not used): Hoban (GK), Peters, Cooney, Lawrence, Little.

Stirling Albion: Currie, McGeachie, McNiff, Cummins, McGregor (Banner 46), Laird, Flanagan, Roberts, Mackin (Moore 81), Leitch (Carrick 69), Bikey (Omar 58). Subs (not used): Law (GK), Grant, Watson.

Goals: McNiff 45, Carrick 86

Referee: Calum Scott

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