Stirling slipped to only their second league defeat of the season as leaders Queen’s Park edged a tight contest at their temporary home of the Falkirk Stadium.
The Spiders signed off at Hampden with a win against Stranraer on March 20 and – with renovations at Lesser Hampden not yet complete – kicked off at Falkirk with another victory.
Ray McKinnon’s side are now 10 points clear at the summit and are heading for League 1 while Stirling are one of four sides battling for three play-off places.
An own goal from on-loan Darvel defender Daryll Meggatt after 34 minutes ultimately settled this hard-fought encounter on an afternoon of glorious spring sunshine.
Albion competed well throughout but were unable to trouble keeper Willie Muir as the Spiders notched up their 10th clean sheet in 13 matches to stay unbeaten in League 2.
Kevin Rutkiewicz’s men were well worthy of a 0-0 draw against Queen’s Park at Forthbank on the opening day of the campaign back in October and again showed up well but in a 90 minutes of few chances their full-time opponents had the better of the openings.
Central defenders Paul McLean, Aldin El-Zubaidi and Jordan McGregor were all ruled out through injury at the weekend and top scorer Andy Ryan was on the bench after picking up a knock in the 1-0 win over Stenhousemuir in midweek. There were five changes in all, including rare starts in attack for Sean Heaver and Dylan Mackin.
This was a meeting of the two strongest defences in League 2 and it showed in a first half that rarely looked like producing a goal. There was nothing between the teams and Stirling were unfortunate to fall behind 11 minutes before the interval.
On-loan Celtic midfielder Luca Connell swung in a troublesome corner from the right, Ross MacLean helped the ball on and it appeared to enter the net via the unfortunate Meggatt.
Queen’s Park have conceded only five goals all season, and three of them came in a 3-3 draw with Edinburgh City, so it was always going to be tough for Stirling after conceding first.
We had one great chance in the second half when McGeachie picked out Jack Leitch with a cross from the right but the midfielder couldn’t direct his header on target.
Former Albion striker Salim Kouider-Aissa, on loan to the Spiders from Livingston, should have put the game beyond doubt when presented with two excellent opportunities but he knocked the ball past the post after getting in behind the defence and dragged another effort wide after pouncing on an error.
Will Bayham had a header ruled out for a push and substitute Jai Quitongo caused a few problems down the right. In one such incursion, he set up fellow sub David Galt, who was denied by a superb stop from Binnie in the closing minutes.
Queen’s Park: Muir, Doyle, Kilday, Grant, Paterson, Connell, Lyon (Gillespie 90), MacLean (Quitongo 67), Kouider-Aissa (Baynham 80), McHugh (Galt 67), Longridge. Subs (not used): Heraghty (GK), Mullen (GK), Morrison, Gillies, Biggar.
Goal: Meggatt og 34
Stirling Albion: Binnie, McGeachie, Allan, Banner, Meggatt, K Roberts, Heaver (Kirkpatrick 59), Hamilton (Ryan 84), Leitch, S Roberts (Moore 72), Mackin (Byrne 72). Subs (not used): Currie (GK), Eadie, Wilson, Docherty, Thomson.
Referee: Dan McFarlane