It’s advantage East Fife heading into Sunday’s play-off final second leg at Bayview.
The Methil men came from a goal down to take a 2-1 lead into the tie after Scott McBride and Nathan Austin cancelled out Ross Forsyth’s opener.
The win was no more than the Fifers deserved for an utterly dominant second 45 in particular when the introductions of the goalscorers from the bench completely turned the face of the game.
Bayview boss Gary Naysmith acknowledged this after the game, saying: “We made a few changes from Saturday because looking at the game back Nathan Austin and Scott Mcbride looked exhausted after the 120 minutes.
“After 60 minutes I thought we began to look a bit tired again so I put the subs on and Nathan Austin in particular has given the side a real lift when he’s went on.
“From there I thought there was only one team that was going to win it.
“But we’ll need to be wary of Stirling on Sunday because they’ll come right at us thinking that they have nothing to lose.”
The boss paid particular tribute to McBride who has only recently returned from injury and managed to put a full shift in last weekend before coming off the bench last night to head East Fife equal.
Naysmith admitted the winger’s goals had been a big miss during his few months on the sidelines.
Stirling took the lead when Forsyth headed home for the hosts.
The first half was a pretty even affair but, just like they had done in the first leg with Clyde, the Methil men really took the game to their opposition in the second 45.
East Fife camped out in Stirling’s half with Naysmith introducing McBride and Austin to freshen up the attack.
And it paid dividends with the Fifers creating chance after chance.
Pat Clarke had gone close for East Fife before McBride levelled things when he headed home a Craig Johnstone cross.
East Fife would probably have settled for the draw heading back to Bayview but things got even better with just a couple of minutes left on the clock.
Johnstone again swung in a dangerous ball and this time it was Austin who met it, sending a fine looping header beyond David Crawford.