Stirling made a winning start to their cinch League 2 campaign with a hard-fought victory over their local rivals at Ochilview.

It was a battle at times and there was generally little between the sides but the Binos came out on top thanks to a 72nd-minute goal from left-back Martin McNiff. Striker Dylan Mackin was sent off for dissent in stoppage time and will miss Saturday’s home match with title favourites Kelty Hearts as a result.

Kevin Rutkiewicz made two changes to the side that defeated Peterhead 3-1, with Kyle Banner and Kurtis Roberts replacing Adam Cummins and Rabin Omar, who was sidelined through injury.

This was a game of relatively few clear-cut chances and neither keeper was overly busy but it was always a compelling watch and Stirling played some nice stuff at times. More importantly they dug in against a strong Stenhousemuir side that has been completely revamped by new manager Stephen Swift, with 20 summer arrivals.

Dale Carrick came close to the opener in the first half when he prodded wide from a few yards out and McNiff blazed over when the ball broke to him 20 yards out.

At the other end, on-loan Partick Thistle midfielder James Lyon looked to have a clear run on goal but checked inside and Stirling eventually managed to scramble the ball clear.

The Warriors had a decent spell in the early part of the second half and Ross Forbes swung in some dangerous corners but Stirling were resolute and took the lead with 18 minutes left.

Right winger Nathan Flanagan fed Marc Laird, who danced through the defence and picked out McNiff for a simple finish inside the six-yard box for his second goal of the season.

The Albion fans almost saw their side score again 10 minutes later when substitute Kieran Moore fired in a superb low shot from 25 yards but the ball smacked off the inside of the post.

There were a couple of anxious moments to endure right at the end when a header flashed wide, then a ball across goal just needed a good contact to send it into the net.

Stenhousemuir: Marshall, Mills, Jamieson, Crighton, R Lyon, Wedderburn (Brown 83), Forbes, J Lyon (Tierney 83), Christie, Orr (O’Reilly 67), Thomson. Subs (not used): Wilson (GK), Coll, Reid, Anderson, Graham.

Stirling Albion: Currie, McGeachie, McNiff, Banner, McGregor, Laird (Cummins 77), Roberts (Grant 69), Leitch (Moore 77), Flanagan (Bikey 90), Carrick, Mackin. Subs (not used): Law (GK), Summers, Johnston, Heaver, Greenhorn.

Goal: McNiff 72

Referee: Dan McFarlane