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Opening day blues for Binos as Spiders take points; Stirling Albion Visiting skipper's strike separates the sides.

STIRLING ALBION ...................................0 QUEEN'S PARK..........................................1 David Ogilvie Stirling Albion suffered an opening-day defeat and had skipper Ross McGeachie sent off as the Spiders claimed all three points at Forthbank.

It was a desperately disappointing afternoon for the Binos, who barely mustered a shot on target. Queen's Park didn't create too much either but were twice denied by the woodwork and grabbed the decisive goal via captain David Galt with 14 minutes remaining.

McGeachie then saw red for a late lunge on substitute Alfredo Agyeman as Albion's first home opener since the 1-0 loss to Clyde in 2015/16 ended in defeat.

Manager Kevin Rutkiewicz had spoken beforehand about the importance of making Forthbank something of a fortress this season but their defences have been breached at the first attempt.

It's only one game, of course, but Albion now face awkward away fixtures at Cowdenbeath and Edinburgh City before welcoming title favourites Cove Rangers to town on August 24.

There's always something special about the first weekend of the league season and there was an air of anticipation around the ground. The sun was shining, the pitch was a lush, green carpet and a healthy crowd of 700 was in attendance.

Stirling fans had seen their team perform well against Hibs and Alloa in the Betfred Cup, either side of heavy defeats to Arbroath and Elgin, while Mark Roberts' men had held Airdrie, Hamilton and Clyde to draws and lost by the odd goal to Partick Thistle.

Both squads had been overhauled in the summer and Rutkiewicz, who was without injured defenders James Creaney and Jordan McGregor, handed starts to six of his new recruits. Strikers Lewis Hawke and Josh Peters, snapped up from their opponents, were on the bench.

Ex-Clyde midfielder Nicoll was stationed in front of the defence, with Dylan Mackin the lone striker but too often the former Falkirk forward was isolated and the hosts toiled to make chances. They were solid enough but lacked spark, width and creativity.

The last three meetings between the teams had all ended in draws and this was another tight affair, with the first half largely a non-event. The visitors started better and Galt was booked for diving when he thought he should have had a penalty. Stirling grew into the match but there was scarcely a real opportunity of note at either end.

Queen's Park almost took the lead early in the second half when Salim Kouider-Aissa - who played a handful of games for Albion in 2015/16 - headed a Joffrey Lidouren free-kick against the underside of the bar and the ball bounced on the line before being cleared by David Wilson.

Galt then fired over after being picked out by left-back Ciaran Summers as the Glasgow club enjoyed a good spell but Stirling rallied and midfielder Cammy Thomson had a strong penalty shout waved away by referee Calum Scott when he went down under a challenge from keeper Willie Muir.

A goalless draw appeared increasingly likely but Galt made the breakthrough in 76 minutes. He seized possession in the middle of the park and Nicoll, already on a booking, was unable to risk a challenge from behind as he pursued the ex-Alloa midfielder. The defence should have stepped out but instead backed off and Galt took full advantage, drilling a low shot beyond Blair Currie.

Galt almost added a second but his 30-yard free-kick cannoned back off the left-hand post. It would have been a spectacular goal but one proved enough and Albion rarely looked capable of equalising, even before McGeachie went in late on Agyeman out on the touchline with eight minutes left.

Stirling Albion: Currie, McGeachie, Lowdon,Thomson, Banner, McLean, Jardine, Nicoll (Hawke 80), Mackin, Wilson,Willis. Subs not used: Binnie (GK), Truesdale, Docherty, Scott,Wright, Peters. Queen's Park: Muir, Mortimer, Summers, Little, Magee, Jamieson, Lidouren, Block, Kouider-Aissa, Galt, Purdue (Agyeman 71). Subs not used: Heraghty (GK), Moore, Grant, Main, Gibson, Griffiths.

Referee: Calum Scott Crowd: 701


Outnumbered Stirling's Paul Willis feels the weight of numbers in midfield

Dribble Danny Jardine takes on the Queen's defence

He's off Cammy Thomson skips past a defender

Heads up Paul Willis and Dylan Mackin challenge for the ball
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Stirling Observer (Stirling, Scotland)
Date:Aug 7, 2019
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