Stirling Albion got back to winning ways in stunning style with a resounding 7-0 victory over Montrose.

Darren Smith netted a four-minute hat-trick while Steven Doris scored a brace, with midfielders Lewis McLear and Sean Dickson also finding the net for the Binos, writes Jamie Hall.

The Binos are now just two points off the playoffs, with games in hand over their promotion rivals.

Stuart McLaren made one change from the side which drew with Arbroath on Saturday, with Willie Robertson returning from injury to replace Aurelien Mazel.

Remarkably, it was Montrose who started the game on top and Graham Webster had the first chance of the game, firing just over the Binos bar after a quick break from the visitors.

Dickson then got on the end of a Mark Lamont cross, but he couldn’t keep his shot down as Albion threatened for the first time.

Gary Fraser then did brilliantly to work himself into a great position before flashing the ball across goal, but none of his team-mates were able to get the vital touch.

Smith drew a good save out of on-loan goalkeeper Alex Tokarczyk with a decent shot from the edge of the box before Robertson fired just over the bar as the home side began to press for an opener.

Moments later they were in front when Tokarczyk flapped at a corner. The ball fell to Ross Smith, whose shot fell to Doris who volleyed it home on the turn.

Montrose responded positively, and Jamie Clarke lashed a shot from distance wide as the visitors went in search of an equaliser before the break.

But the Binos had got the taste for goals and Smith would grab the first of his haul three minutes before the interval. The former Motherwell striker picked the ball up in his own half and ran at the Gable Endies’ defence, and with no challenge forthcoming he was able to stab the ball past Tokarczyk and into the bottom corner.

There was still time for the 27-year-old to net his second of the game as the first half came to a frantic close. Lamont whipped in a corner, Doris flicked it on and Smith was on hand to head home and effectively end the game as a contest.

Incredibly, moments after the break, it was four, and again it was Smith who secured his second hat-trick against Montrose of the season. The ball broke to the striker around 20 yards out, and he curled an unstoppable shot past Tokarczyk.

December’s League Two player of the month was involved in the Binos’ fifth goal two minutes later, his excellent build-up play rounded off in style by McLear, who lashed a shot into the bottom corner to mark his home debut with his first goal for the club.

The visitors rarely threatened and when they did, the Albion defence proved more than capable of dealing with the danger. Phil Johnston, playing in an unfamiliar defensive role, made a terrific tackle to deny veteran striker Chris Templeman the chance to restore some dignity.

Dickson had produced one of his best displays since joining the Binos in the summer from East Fife, and he got the goal his play deserved as the game entered the closing stages. He showed neat footwork to jink his way through the Montrose defence before sliding the ball beyond the hapless Tokarczyk.

And less than a minute later, Doris made it a magnificent seven for the Binos, getting on the end of a Moses Olanrewaju cross to fire the ball into the corner.

The result equalled Albion’s second-biggest league victory and propelled them to fifth in the League Two table, just two points off the playoff places and with games in hand over their promotion rivals.

Stirling Albion: C. Smith, Johnston, Forsyth, Robertson, R. Smith, Buist (McMillan), Lamont (Mazel), McLear (Olanrewaju), Doris, D. Smith, Dickson.