Match Report - By Brechin City Media Team
City at last put three points on the board after a hard-fought victory over Albion Rovers thanks to a Paul McManus winner.
Stevie Campbell was in charge of matters in the dugout on an interim basis following Barry Smith's departure, and named a team with just one change from last weekend's defeat to Queen's Park - Kieran Inglis coming in for Matthew Knox, who dropped to the bench.
Rovers boss Kevin Harper named a team that included former City midfielder Giuliano Morena and the home team had the best of the early exchanges. As early as the second minute, Fagan's looping shot had to be tipped over the bar by Ross Sinclair in the City goal and on 13 minutes, City had to put bodies on the line to avoid going behind. Two Rovers shots inside the box in quick succession were blocked and from a third effort East hit the outside of the City post.
A quarter of an hour passed before City created anything meaningful in attack, forcing a couple of corners in quick succession, but the action was soon back in the away team's penalty area. First Graham pulled an inviting ball square across the City box but fortunately it was met by Jonathan Page to clear, and then Wilson headed comfortably over from a Stewart corner for Rovers.
City were struggling to retain possession at this stage but on 22 minutes McManus fed Ryan McCord on the edge of the box, whose fierce dipping shot struck the intersection of post and bar before bouncing to safety.
Rovers number 10 Osalodor then had two chances to put the home team ahead. First a glancing header from a cross from the left was easily gathered by Sinclair. Within five minutes, Dougie Hill cleared a Rovers free kick and when Wilson picked up the second ball, he picked out Osalodor who under pressure from the City defence got well underneath his header.
Against the run of play, City's first clear chance came on 32 minutes. Paul McManus got free on the end of a long kick out on the right hand side of the area but pulled his shot wide of both keeper and goal. However the breakthrough wasn't long in coming - on 35 minutes, Olly Hamilton did well to chase down a crossfield ball and hold off the attentions of the Albion defence on the corner of the penalty area. The ball was driven to the back post to find McManus in acres of space, and the City striker had all the time he needed to send the Rovers keeper the wrong way and chip into the empty net.
Rovers were stung but could only respond with a Morena shot that went high and wide from distance before referee Irvine called a halt to first half proceedings.
The home team came out for the second half with purpose and on 57 minutes should have been level. The City defence failed to cut out a long ball into the penalty area but with a goal seemingly inevitable, Ross Sinclair got two strong hands to Osalodor's close range strike and the follow-up was scrambled to safety. Just five minutes later, Rovers did have the ball in the net after Osalodor played in East but the offside flag cut short the home fans' celebrations.
Goalie Sinclair had been doing his bit to keep City in the game but having received on-field treatment for a knock, he had to leave the field on 66 minutes, being replaced by Paddy O'Neil who would soon make key contributions of his own.
Rovers continued to have the better of the chances but City did threaten on the counter. On 73 minutes Chris McLaughlin's free kick was smuggled behind and from the resulting corner Dougie Hill got his head to the ball but couldn't direct it goalwards.
However the Albion pressure continued to build. On 79 minutes Byrne's clipped cross into the box was chested down by centre forward East when a header might have been a better option, and Paddy O'Neil gathered gratefully. And City hearts were in mouths again two minutes later. A Rovers through ball ricocheted to East who seemed certain to score, but O'Neil's outstretched leg somehow diverted his finish around the post.
The effort was beginning to tell on City with Kieran Inglis the second to be withdrawn following on-field treatment, being replaced by Lee Duncanson. And only minutes after coming on to replace Olly Hamilton, Jamie Reid then picked up an injury himself, leaving him to soldier on in a token 'nuisance' role for the last ten minutes with all subs already used.
Rovers piled forward in numbers as they sought the elusive equaliser, leaving opportunities for City on the counter. First Scott Reekie broke forward with Rovers committed but opted to shoot rather than play in McManus, and then Ryan McCord played in Lee Duncanson with a long ball down the channel, but with support in short supply the City man rushed his shot.
With several minutes of injury time added it seemed almost inevitable that the home team would snatch a point, but City held firm and a couple of snapshots dragged wide of goal from outside the area were all that Rovers could muster.
Rovers may feel they were unfortunate not to have taken something from the game, but that's not to take anything away from a thoroughly committed and professional away performance by City. Having moved off the foot of the table, both team and fans will now be looking up the table with more confidence and hoping for a similar outcome when we visit Cowdenbeath next weekend.