Match Report - By Grant Hood
Mark Wilson’s Brechin City left Central Park yesterday with no points after defeat in a game which saw both sets of fans put through the emotional wringer during a topsy-turvy 90 minutes.
The City starting XI saw 2 changes from the side which drew 2-2 against Stenhousemuir 2 weeks prior. Scott Reekie took a seat on the bench in favour of Lee Duncanson at right-back, and skipper Paul McManus returned to a starting berth to partner Andy Jackson up front from the start for the first time. Midfielder Ross Brown was the player who gave way as a result.
Against a backdrop of a brutally strong and bitterly cold wind blowing down the length of the bobbly Central Park pitch, City played into the elements in the opening half. Cowdenbeath opened the scoring in 6 minutes with the first chance of the game when a free kick from Fraser Mullen in central midfield saw striker JORDAN ALLAN conjure up a header which diverted the ball past Lewis McMinn and into the corner of the net.
In 12 minutes, McMinn produced the type of save that City fans have become increasingly accustomed to seeing when he dived to his left to tip away a drive from Gavin Morrison after City’s Olly Hamilton was robbed of possession in midfield.
However, disaster struck City in 27 minutes in a real moment to forget for the Glebe Park custodian. McMinn opted not to take a touch on a conventional rolled pass-back and his sclaffed first-time clearance landed straight at the feet of home striker ARCHIE THOMAS who couldn’t believe his good fortune. This left him with a clear one-on-one with Lewis, and he strode forward confidently to send Lewis sprawling the opposite direction as he coolly slotted the ball home to put the home side 2 goals to the good.
The Blue Brazil were unlucky not to put the game to bed in first-half stoppage time, when Jordan Allan skipped past some ineffective challenges to fire goalwards. With McMinn well beaten this time, everyone of a City persuasion breathed a huge sigh of relief as the ball clattered back off the inside of the post, and ultimately to safety.
With the wind now firmly pounding towards the home goal for the second half, City sent an early statement of intent with Lee Duncanson firing a 30-yard shot narrowly over the bar before the game took a dramatic twist just around the hour mark.
Dunfermline Athletic loanee PAUL ALLAN cut in from the left and curled a cracking left foot shot into the far corner to bring City right back into things, and in doing so, celebrated scoring his first goal for the Club.
Barely a minute had passed when a City free-kick in midfield found DOUGIE HILL in splendid isolation within the six yard box and he fairly thumped a powerful header past Joshua Rae in the home goal to restore parity.
City remained in the ascendency at this point. Another set play saw a Dougie Hill header hit the post from close in, and substitute Ross Crawford then had a close-range effort go over the crossbar. Then, in arguably City’s best chance to nose ahead, Andy Jackson didn’t quite make the perfect connection he wanted as he hooked the ball goalwards from within the 6-yard box after a Jonathan Page knock-down. It saw the home goalie gratefully grab the ball pretty much on the goal line.
With 15 minutes remaining, the decisive goal came and, despairingly for City, it was at the other end. Andy Jackson conceded a free kick midway in the City half and the resultant delivery was headed home largely unchallenged by experienced defender CRAIG BARR.
In the closing stages City remained very much in this. Ross Crawford seized on a mistake and Paul McManus didn’t quite manage to turn his cross ball into the net. Manager Wilson continued to make attacking substitutions with Crawford being joined by Matthew Knox and Aiden Laverty – the latter making his City debut having signed on loan from Falkirk only 24 hours earlier.
Paul McManus would suffer more disappointment as his header from a wickedly driven free-kick by Knox flashed only a foot past the upright before the game would finish in further controversy.
In 88 minutes, the ball was in the home net, but City’s hopes for an own-goal lifeline were denied by the officials who insisted that a free kick be awarded to Cowdenbeath. The decision was that a home defender had been illegally impeded by striker Andy Jackson – an outcome which horrified the Glebe Park players and management.
And that was that.
City remain in a precarious position but, with a February fixture schedule which includes 4 home games (the outstanding Queen’s Park game yet to be re-scheduled) everyone around the Club sees this as a chance to turn the periodic shoots of optimism into something more meaningful and substantial.