Stirling Albion manager Stuart McLaren admitted his side's performance in their 3-1 defeat to East Fife was not good enough and says their second defeat in 13 games was tough to take.

The former Albion defender believes his players missed an opportunity to haul themselves into the League Two promotion mix, but praised East Fife for the way they battled back from a goal down to take all three points back to Methil.

McLaren told Stirling News Sport: “We are not pleased with the performance. That level of performance is not what we have come to know from the boys, especially over the last few weeks, and it's nowhere near the level we are capable of so in that sense it is hard to take. We feel like we have let an opportunity go by us because we have done so well over the past few weeks but at the same time you have got to acknowledge East Fife, the spell they have been through and the position they found themselves in coming into the game. We knew they were going to fight and scrap, and we knew they had some quality there and that proved to be the case.

“We were off it and you can't just put it down to an off day or slices of misfortune. They did have a little bit more drive and desire and that's not really acceptable from our point of view. The lads would be the first ones to acknowledge that. When the other team is on top you have to dig in sometimes. We got a little break with our goal and we thought we would go in at half time either in the lead or with the game level.

“When you are at home against a side who are going through a tricky spell you think that if you are positive and take the lead you will maybe affect their confidence but they worked themselves back into the game and then worked really hard to hold onto it. It's disappointing that we have not taken the opportunity that was there but by and large, when there has been an opportunity, the boys have stood up and taken it so you begin to expect that from them every game but we know they are human beings and can't do it all the time.

“When you are not on top you have to make sure you keep it tight and keep yourselves in the game and sadly we were not able to do that. We showed that we can be a threat and are capable of creating chances, and I think for long periods of the second half we had them on the back foot.”

Nathan Austin was East Fife's key man, scoring all three of his side's goals against the Binos, but McLaren believes that although the former Leven United man caused his team problems, they could have dealt with the threat far better.

He said: “He is a good player but the boys come up against players of his level every week. We should have done better defensively. The first two goals in particular were defendable situations. For the third goal I am a little bit disappointed with the part one or two players played in it but we were looking to go and get ourselves back in the game. But when he is playing and full of purpose he is a handful.”

The Binos kick off the New Year with a trip to face local rivals East Stirlingshire at Ochilview, and McLaren backed his players to get back to winning ways.

He added: “We will bounce back. We know that there are some very proud players in there and they will be more annoyed than anybody else that they have not produced a good performance so I am confident that they will bounce back.”