Stirling Albion manager Stuart McLaren admitted his side’s poor start cost them dear as their playoff hopes took a hit in Berwick.

The Binos missed a stoppage-time penalty which would have levelled the scores, and that meant Blair Henderson’s strike after just 25 seconds was enough to prevent them narrowing the gap to the promotion places.

However, the manager says his players were unfortunate to leave Shielfield Park with nothing to show for their efforts.

McLaren told Stirling News Sport: “We made a couple of errors at the beginning of the game which cost us the goal, and throughout the game we weren’t at our best. I think the bad start rocked us a bit and Berwick had a couple more chances, but we still fashioned a decent chance through David Verlaque in the first half, and then in the second half we had some good play and a couple more chances. We are rueing missed opportunities at the moment and it is one or two errors which are really costing us. It’s a source of real frustration but although we don’t like tossing away points, we are proving that we are good enough to be winning games.”

Albion host table-toppers East Fife on Saturday, and despite recent results, McLaren is confident his players can produce the performance required to claim a much-needed three points.

He said: “It will be difficult but not any more so than playing East Stirling the week after or Berwick last weekend. Any game in this league is as difficult as the previous one or the next one. There is no getting away from the fact that East Fife are a good side but every game is a challenge. We have to do as much as we can to put in a good performance and hopefully that will be good enough.”

The Binos boss praised striker Steven Doris, who was named League Two player of the month for February, and says it is just reward for the top scorer’s contribution over the course of the season.

McLaren added: “All players say that while individual accolades are important they would trade them for wins on a Saturday or a good league position, but it is good for Steven because he has been working his socks off. He has done well and worked hard for the team and it is nice to see that getting rewarded.”