Match Report - By Brechin City FC
Brechin City’s miserable sequence of results continued with a second 5-2 defeat on the road in a few days, as Mark Wilson’s side lost out against Annan Athletic.
In a clash re-arranged as a result of the 2 sides requiring a Scottish Cup replay last month, City travelled to the far south west to take on the Galabank side for the fourth time already this season.
City’s opening line up saw no fewer than 5 changes to the starting XI which had taken to the pitch at the national stadium 4 days prior. Skipper Paul McManus was a late exclusion through injury, which added to an already lengthy list of changes. This saw experienced campaigners Dougie Hill and Ryan McCord listed as substitutes along with striker Emile Ngoy.
The manager also opted to make a goalkeeping change with St Johnstone loanee Ross Sinclair coming in for his first start since suffering an injury in a 1-0 victory against Albion Rovers in September. Promoted to the starting line up were Matthew Knox, Kieran Inglis, Olly Hamilton and Ross Crawford. Central defender Jonathan Page took the captains armband.
City enjoyed a dream start when, in the second minute, striker ROSS CRAWFORD rose to power home a header from a Matthew Knox free kick on City’s left – a first City goal for the tall striker. Frustratingly, and as has become customary, the lead wasn’t retained for long as NATHAN FLANAGAN shot the home side level on 6 minutes.
There were only 12 minutes on the clock when sloppy defending saw SCOTT McLEAN played onside and he enjoyed a free run-in on goal before gleefully blasting a shot past the hopelessly exposed Sinclair in the City goal.
City’s youngsters weren’t finished at this stage, and the home side were shocked with an equaliser on 26 minutes. Kieran Inglis did well on City’s right and his shot was only partially saved by the home goalkeeper Chris Smith, leaving ROSS CRAWFORD with an easy tap in from a couple of yards out.
Those who say a team is at its most exposed when they’ve just scored only need to look at the current Brechin City side as seconds later City had conceded a fifth penalty in 5 consecutive games, allowing SCOTT McLEAN to slam the ball down the middle to put Annan ahead once again. In a breathless series of events the game hadn’t even reached the half hour mark by this time.
Shortly after, City’s gameplan imploded in what was arguably the game changing moment of the evening. Defender Chris McLaughlin, in an act of sheer folly, received a straight red card for directing foul and abusive language at an Assistant Referee following the award of a free kick.
Half-Time: Annan Athletic 3-2 Brechin City
Any thoughts of an unlikely second half come-back were pretty well dashed immediately, when a despairing lunge from SCOTT REEKIEsaw him deflect a cross driven into the danger area past City custodian Sinclair.
City’s St Johnstone’s loanee Sinclair, who had recently been called into Scotland’s U19s squad, produced a series of fine saves but was left helpless on 75 minutes when the home side added a fifth. City had enjoyed a rare period of territorial advantage in the Annan half but, in losing possession outside the penalty area, a rapid breakaway and a couple of passes later substitute LEWIS McLEAR steered a low shot past Sinclair to finish the scoring.
The talking points kept coming though when Referee Peter Stuart showed home defender Matthew Douglas a red card for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity as he wrestled City substitute to the ground in a chase for a through ball.
Despite the outcome of the game being long since settled, and with the number of players on the field having been evened out, City proved in the latter stages that they are indeed capable of producing attractive attacking football. Kieran Inglis, Matthew Knox and Jonathan Page all forced saves from the home keeper, before French striker Emile Ngoy had the ball in the net – only for it to be ruled out for offside.
City don’t have long to kick their wounds with a first ever visit to the Balmoral Stadium on Saturday and the prospect of facing current league leaders Cove Rangers on their own patch.