Stirling began 2022 with an important win at Ochilview to end a run of seven straight defeats in cinch League 2 and move to within a point of the play-offs.

We were without the suspended Jack Leitch and Adam Cummins while Martin McNiff and Marc Laird were among those absent due to injury. There was a place on the bench for young defender Will Greenhorn, who has been recalled from his loan spell at Sauchie.

The first half was a relatively quiet affair but the hosts made the breakthrough in 25 minutes. Darren Christie crossed from the right and Thomas Orr steered the ball home from close range for his ninth goal of the season.

The second half was much livelier, with good opportunities at both ends, a flurry of yellow cards and eventually a red for Stenhousemuir winger Euan O’Reilly, who had already been booked when he went in late on Ray Grant with five minutes left.

Grant might earlier have equalised but sent a shot over the bar, then Leo Watson flashed an angled drive wide as Stirling enjoyed a good spell but we had to call on Blair Currie to make a terrific stop from Adam Corbett.

Stenhousemuir have been vulnerable at set-pieces of late and were caught out again in 76 minutes when Grant whipped in a free-kick and Jordan Tapping, under pressure from Kyle Banner, could only head the ball into his own net.

Nathan Flanagan was the hero with the winner, beating keeper David Wilson to the ball outside the box and arcing a shot into the net. It was an exquisite finish from the former Annan winger but the goal also owed much to the determination of Kurtis Roberts, who did brilliantly to win the ball back then provide the perfect pass.

Stenhousemuir: Wilson, Corbett, R Lyon, Crighton, Tapping, Wedderburn, Forbes, Miller (Graham 85), Orr, Christie (Brown 74), O’Reilly. Subs (not used): Smith (GK), Coll, Moreland, Jamieson.

Goal: Orr 25

Stirling Albion: Currie, McGeachie, Watson, Banner, McGregor, Creaney, Scally (Heaver 73), Roberts, Carrick (Bikey 81), Grant, Flanagan (Moore 90). Subs (not used): Law (GK), Greenhorn, Dryden.

Goals: Tapping og 76, Flanagan 80

Referee: Calum Scott

Crowd: 500