Stirling Albion 2 Annan Athletic 1
Albion continued their February revival with a win over Annan that was more comfortable than the scoreline suggests at Forthbank on Tuesday night.
It’s not obvious from a quick glance at the Third Division table – the Binos remain bottom – but things appear to be looking up at last.
Greig McDonald’s men have now strung together an unbeaten sequence of four matches, two wins and two draws, and will leapfrog Clyde tomorrow (Saturday) if they can avenge two earlier defeats to the Bully Wee.
Annan stay sixth after a fifth match without a win but they are only half a dozen points ahead of a Stirling team who have belatedly found some form in what has been a difficult campaign.
They had to do it the hard way in midweek, coming from behind after Scott Chaplain had fired the visitors in front. Graham Weir equalised before half-time and Jordan White bagged his 10th goal of the season five minutes after the restart on a night when Albion should have scored more.
Annan, with just one away win, were thumped here 5-1 on the opening day and were well beaten again as Stirling notched up their sixth home success of 2012/13 – only runaway leaders Rangers, who are due at Forthbank on Tuesday, have claimed more victories on their own patch.
Albion went into the game on the back of a recent 3-1 win over Montrose, which was followed by draws against East Stirlingshire and Peterhead.
Binos boss Greig McDonald drafted in Gary Thom for the suspended Brian Allison and there was a first league start for 17-year-old striker Sandy Cunningham,who impressed with a lively display.
Winger Phil Johnston brought a fine save from Alex Mitchell as Stirling started well but it was the Galabankies who forged in front in 15 minutes when poor defending allowed the unmarked Chaplain to smack a low shot beyond David Crawford.
Earlier in the season, Albion might have buckled but they appear tougher now and White had theball in the net 60 seconds later butthe offside flag had already gone up.
The equaliser arrived when Cunningham forced a save from Mitchell and Weir kept cool to stroke home the rebound for his fifth goal of the season.
Thom had a header cleared off the line and Mitchell superbly kept out a White header from Johnston’s cross as Albion failed to earn the half-time advantage their play merited.
There wasn’t too long to wait in the second half for the breakthrough. Thom’s pass found White in space in the box and he controlled the ball before rifling a shot into the net.
White was only inches away from another goal and sub Scott Davidson twice came close as Stirling largely dominated, and it was only in the closing stages that the visitors threatened.
Crawford made an important save from Michael Daly’s header in stoppage time but an Annan equaliser would have been cruel on Albion, who made it four wins from the last six at Forthbank.
Stirling Albion: Crawford, McCunnie, Forsyth, McClune, Bishop, Thom, Weir (McAnespie 90), Ferry, White, Cunningham (Davidson 62), Johnston (Flood 83). Subs not used: Day, Filler.
Annan Athletic: Mitchell, Sloan, McGowan, Trialist, Swinglehurst (Jardine 75), McNiff (McKechnie 71), Orsi, Chaplain, Daly, Hopkirk, Monaghan (Love 62). Subs not used: Hawke, Summersgill.
Referee: Alan Muir
StatsStirling Albion scorers:Weir 21, White 50Annan Athletic scorer:Chaplain 15Crowd: 327