Stirling Albion’s Scottish Cup dream came to an end on Tuesday as they bravely went down 2-0 to holders Inverness in a replay at the Caledonian Stadium, writes Jamie Hall.

Goals from Andrea Mutombo and Iain Vigurs were enough to see the Highlanders go through at the second time of asking, but the Binos will have earned plaudits for a fine display across both matches.

Stuart McLaren made just one change from the original tie, Ross McGeachie replacing the injured Kevin McKinlay.

The game got off to a dramatic start when Steven Doris raced clear, only to be brought down by Danny Williams as he ran in on goal. The Binos fans screamed for a red card but the referee produced a yellow. It was the correct decision as Gary Warren had also got back to cover.

Doris took the resulting free kick himself but his effort sailed just over Owain Fon Williams’ crossbar.

Mutombo started after impressing from the bench in the original tie, and he caused problems for Stirling full-back Aurelien Mazel down the right early on.

But in the early stages it was the League Two side who were looking more threatening, and Darren Smith was next to go close for the Binos. Danny Devine got across to make a fine block and deny the former Motherwell man.

There was a scare when the visitors when Gary Warren rose to head a corner towards goal, but it was blocked by a mass of bodies on the line and the Binos survived.

Mutombo continued to look dangerous and he did well to cut inside and get a powerful shot away, but it fizzed narrowly over Chris Smith’s bar, before Ross Smith made a terrific interception to snuff out a promising attack.

Liam Polworth was next to miss the target after Greg Tansey’s cross had fallen nicely for him, the midfielder blasting the ball high.

The Binos were still looking threatening on the counter and Craig Comrie found Darren Smith with a fine long ball. He crossed for Doris but the top scorer was unable to get a proper contact and the chance went begging.

But they were dealt a harsh dose of reality just before the half-hour mark. Again Mutombo cut inside but this time he found his range, sending an unstoppable shot into the top corner to open the scoring, the first time any side had found the net against Albion in this year’s competition.

From that point until the interval Caley Thistle were fairly comfortable, rarely threatening to add to their advantage but ensuring an immediate route back into the game remained out of the visitors’ reach.

The Binos started the second half brightly, and Mazel sent a speculative free kick towards the Inverness goal but Fon Williams was able to gather without too much trouble.

Darren Smith was again denied, this time by a number of Caley players on the line, before Sean Dickson fired over from distance as the ball was only half-cleared.

They were then denied what at first glance looked to be a clear penalty when the ball appeared to strike an Inverness arm, but referee Mat Northcroft said nothing doing. On second viewing it emerged that the officials had got it spot on.

Moments later, the home side all but put the game to bed with their second. Ross Draper did well to escape Ross McGeachie down the right and cut the ball back for Iain Vigurs, who made no mistake as he finished coolly into the corner of the net.

The goalscorer was then booked for a pathetic dive as he attempted to win his side a spot kick.

Binos keeper Chris Smith was forced into a decent save by Miles Storey, the keeper doing well to parry the striker’s powerful effort wide, before Danny Devine curled an effort past the post as the hosts attempted to see out the tie in style.

The final score was harsh on the Binos, who contributed a great deal to the tie across both matches, but they will take plenty of heart from their performance going into Saturday’s clash with Queen’s Park at Forthbank.

Stirling Albion: C. Smith, Mazel, Forsyth, McGeachie, R. Smith (Beattie), Robertson, Johnston (Cunningham), Comrie (Lamont), Doris, D. Smith, Dickson.