Montrose recorded their first away win of the season and their first at the Forthbank Stadium since March 2002.
Conditions were good so there were to be no excuses there, but Montrose had no need to look for excuses as they set about things in workmanlike style.
With last weeks’ Elgin nightmare firmly behind them, Stuart Garden made several bold changes to his starting 11. Garry Wood, Lloyd Young, David Gray and David Crawford were all on the bench and into the side came Sandy Wood, Jamie Winter, Scott Morton and Scott Johnston.
The keeper was Sandy Wood with McNally, Crawford, Lunan and Ricky McIntosh across the back. In midfield were McLeish, Masson and Winter whilst up front were Leighton McIntosh and Scott Morton. Scott Johnston is left to last because he was everywhere.
Referee Andrew Dallas got things under way and Stirling earned a corner on the right but Masson cleared it with ease as Leighton McIntosh sped away with the ball wide right.
His cross unfortunately was squared behind two onrushing forwards and the chance went begging, though it was good to see bodies getting forward as quickly. The next piece of action saw Sandy Wood holding on to a high cross under pressure before putting Winter clear. His hard shot was beaten out by Sam Filler the Binos keeper.
Leighton Mcintosh collected the rebound but his shot was also blocked by a desperate lunge. Only five minutes had been played but in the next move Stirling went ahead. A corner from the right to the back post was not defended and although Gary THOM the Binos centre half-connected with a weak header the ball somehow trickled into the bottom corner.
Back came Montrose and in seven minutes they won a free kick 25 yards out and central. Up stepped Jamie Winter – spectators held their breath in expectation as so far this season he has not been seen in such situations. A pile driver of a free kick was wickedly deflected off what looked like Terry Masson, although it was credited as an own goal by full back Kieran McANESPIE.
It was end to end but Montrose looked more dangerous going forward as demonstrated by a McCulloch shot which went high and wide when he won possession in midfield.
Lunan was in no-nonsense mood at the back and his long clearance set McLeish up but his lob landed just over the bar.
Then Masson almost converted a half-chance on the 25 minute mark and Scott Morton had a shot blocked. Leighton McINTOSH was following up and made no mistake with his angled shot across the keeper into the bottom left hand corner – 2-1 to Montrose after 31 minutes.
At the other end full back McAnespie tried to atone for his earlier own goal by taking two well placed free kicks. He is a good striker of a dead ball but his forwards made little use of his deliveries.
As the first half came to a close Stirling’s McSorley was shown yellow for bringing down Leighton McIntosh, McNally headed just wide from the resultant free kick then Crawford did well to break up a threatening looking attack.
As everyone waited for the half time whistle Montrose made it 3-1 as a Scott Johnston cross from the left was deftly touched past the ’keeper by Scott MORTON for his debut goal.
Half-time: Stirling Albion 1, Montrose 3.
For the second half Stirling brought off centre midfield man McCulloch and on went McCunnie in his place. The question now was if Montrose would settle back on a 3-1 lead or keep going as they did in the first half. Fortunately they kept going as it would have been criminal to hand the initiative to a Stirling side who were not at their best.
Two corners were quickly won but came to nothing although from the second one Stirling broke quickly and a fortunate offside flag cleared the danger.
There were about 10 minutes of relative quiet until Stirling captain Brian Allison caught Leighton McIntosh badly. The latter reacted with a push on Allison and both were yellow-carded. Then Gary Thom was also yellow-carded as Stirling became more desperate. Sandy Wood did well to parry a sharp shot for a corner when a second Stirling goal would have made it more tricky for the Gable Endies.
The game boiled over again in the 62nd minute when both Steven Weir and Stephen McNally were red-carded. Macca appeared to foul Weir who reacted by squaring up to McNally as the pair of them met forehead to forehead. Referee Dallas immediately dished out straight reds, probably with the Allison/McIntosh incident fresh in his mind and the danger of things getting out of control. It seemed harsh on Weir and McNally however.
With both teams down to 10 men it was Montrose who seemed to suffer most. Masson dropped back to replace McNally and Montrose brought on Garry Wood for Leighton McIntosh as they went with just one up front. Lunan was immense as the Mo soaked up late Stirling pressure but the Mo midfield were not losing their grip and Stuart Garden shored it up further by bringing on both Gray and Young for Morton and Winter, both of whom had done their jobs well. Stirling completed their substitutions and all the chopping and changing did not stop the time ticking by. Another Stirling yellow card was shown to McClune.
Into the last 10 minutes and Stirling hit the post. Sandy wood took his time taking the goal kick but then played it out to Ricky McIntosh wide left. He just kept on going and going until he reached the edge of the Stirling box before his shot was deflected for a corner.
Sandy Wood at the other end was shouting at his back line to keep their shape and concentration. Another Montrose corner ran the clock down further before the referee blew for full time and a well earned Montrose victory.
After their victory against Rangers in their previous game Stirling will be disappointed with their display but for Montrose it was a good bounce back to form and the fresh faces in the team will have given Stuart Garden a lot to think about.
Montrose – S. Wood, McNally, R. McIntosh, J. Crawford, Lunan, Winter (Young), Masson, McLeish, L. McIntosh (G. Wood), Morton (Gray), Johnston. Substitutes not used – McGuire and D. Crawford.