STIRLING ALBION manager Stuart McLaren could not hide his delight after his team held cup holders Inverness to a draw at Forthbank.

The Binos kept the Premiership side at bay before going close to snatching an unlikely victory, and the Albion boss revealed he was proud of his players’ efforts as they secured a fourth round replay in the Highlands.

McLaren told Stirling News Sport: “We are immensely proud of the boys. Coming up with a game plan is stage one, but putting it into practice is more difficult. To go out and apply it as well as they did against that level of opposition means the players deserve every ounce of credit.

“We set out with a system to negate Inverness’ strengths but we also set up to try and expose them. Darren Smith and Willie Robertson had good chances, and where Gary Warren came from to block Steven Doris’ shot I still don’t know. By and large we didn’t have too many scary moments so again, tremendous credit to our players.”

McLaren admitted he was relieved to come away with a positive result after two consecutive defeats and believes it shows what his players are really capable of.

He said: “When you have performances like we have had in the last two league games you get frustrated because you know the lads are capable of so much more. It was good to have the change of focus and performances like that show what they are capable of. We showed how well we can match up against them in a one-off game which is excellent.”

The former Binos defender was adamant that his squad fully deserve a second crack at Caley Thistle and believes they will be excited by the prospect of going toe-to-toe for a second time.

He added: “Being the home team they will have an extra little bit of motivation. That will be a challenge, to lift the players once again, but they have earned the right to go there. It is going to be a difficult period because we have Elgin away on Saturday and Inverness on Tuesday, but the boys have earned it and they will relish it.”