Declan Byrne scored the only goal as the Binos beat the Blue Brazil to move level on points with second-placed Elgin City in the League 2 table.

Kevin Rutkiewicz’s side were the only one of the leading contenders to win and did so thanks to Byrne’s second goal of the campaign 20 minutes from time.

It was a narrow but deserved success for Stirling, who have also posted 1-0 wins over Annan Athletic and Albion Rovers. Cowdenbeath claimed a 0-0 draw on their last visit to Forthbank in October 2019 but this was their fourth successive league loss and Gary Bollan’s men have slipped to ninth in the standings, just a point above Brechin City.

It was a decent December day, with little wind and the earlier rain having cleared, for the first meeting of the sides since Stirling cantered to a 4-1 Central Park triumph in February.

Top scorer Andy Ryan fired wide early on and had a good effort turned round the post by Ross Munro as the interval approached but there was often a flatness about the first period and Albion were grateful to Binnie for a smart stop from Graham Taylor after a rare Cowdenbeath incursion.

Ryan, with five goals in 2020/21, was keen to add to his tally and had a shot blocked early in the second half before Munro made a terrific reaction save to turn his header from a Leitch corner over the bar.

The breakthrough came from Byrne, seven minutes after he had replaced Sean Heaver. A defensive error allowed the former Albion Rovers striker a clear run on goal and Byrne made no mistake, lashing the ball into the net from the edge of the area.

This was a game when one goal felt like it would be enough but there was a scare towards the end when Cowden full-back Fraser Mullen arrowed a 20-yard free-kick narrowly wide.

Stirling Albion: Binnie, McGeachie, Banner, McLean, McGregor, K Roberts, Ryan, Wilson (Leitch 20), Heaver (Byrne 62), Docherty (Magee 90), Moore (S Roberts 62). Subs (not used): Currie (GK), El-Zubaidi, Thomson, Mackin, Mitchell.

Scorer: Byrne 70

Cowdenbeath: Munro, Mullen, Swann, Todd, Barr, Miller (Russell 57), Buchanan, Morrison, Renton, Herd, Taylor. Subs (not used): Whyte (GK), Hamilton, Glass, Easton.

Referee: David Dickinson