Substitute Sean Heaver grabbed a deserved late equaliser as the local derby ended all square at Forthbank.

Thomas Halleran had given the Warriors a first-half lead and it was one they merited but we hit back strongly in the second half and the former Bannockburn Amateurs player struck with just three minutes left to extend our unbeaten run to three matches.

Brechin City’s win over Elgin means we are bottom of the table going into next week’s game at Glebe Park but are only four points outside the top four in a very tight division.

Binos boss Kevin Rutkiewicz was without Josh Peters, Dylan Mackin, Paul Willis and Gareth Rodger due to injury against a Stenhousemuir team who had confirmed Davie Irons as their new manager in midweek following the recent departure of Colin McMenamin. This was the first meeting of the teams since a 1-1 draw here on the final day of 2017/18, which was also a 1-1 draw.

Lewis Hawke had an early penalty appeal waved away and Darryl Duffy had a good chance saved late in the first half but the Warriors generally had the better of the opening 45 minutes and Alan Cook and David Hopkirk came close before the latter crossed for Halleran to head home from close range shortly after the half-hour mark.

Stenhousemuir looked content to protect their narrow advantage in the second half and it almost paid off. Hawke fired over from six yards under pressure from a defender and Graeme Smith made a superb save to push away a Heaver effort. The keeper then did very well to stop a deflected effort from Dylan Bikey as our struggles in front of goal continued.

Heaver made a big impact when introduced as a substitute – trying to make things happen and showing confidence on the ball – and it was fitting that he equalised, with a composed finish low beyond Smith after Hawke had provided the assist.

It was an important goal going into a massive match against Brechin next Saturday, when the first quarter of the League 2 campaign draws to a close.

Stirling Albion: Currie, McGeachie, Creaney, Nicoll, McLean, McGregor, Jardine, Wilson (Thomson 73), Duffy (Heaver 59), Bikey, Hawke. Subs (not used): Binnie (GK), Truesdale, Banner, Docherty, Wright.

Goal: Heaver 87

Stenhousemuir: Smith, O’Neil, McLaughlin, Marsh, A Munro, Halleran, Gibson, M Munro (Dykes 82), Cook (Scullion 73), Hopkirk, McGuigan (Anderson 85). Subs (not used): Marley (GK), Watters.

Goal: Halleran 32

Referee: Lloyd Wilson

Crowd: 602