Match Report - By Cain Lindsay
A somewhat depleted City scraped past Inverurie Locos last night to keep their title hopes alive. Garry Wood’s strike nine minutes before the interval proved enough to secure a 7th consecutive win for City and maintain the pressure at the top of the Highland League.
City headed into the evening minus joint top scorer Marc Scott and several other key members leading to four changes from the side who defeated Strathspey Thistle four days ago. Garry Wood and David Cox came into the side to partner one another up front whilst Iain Davidson returned to City’s midfield, and Hamish Thomson was welcomed back in central defence.
It was a game of very few goal scoring opportunities with no clear cut chances prior to Wood’s opener. Neither side could get a foothold on the game with both teams opting for long balls in behind during the opening exchanges.
Garry Wood held the ball up well allowing City to advance, with loanee Jordan Northcott looking lively out on the right, and David Cox hunting for gaps in the defence. But again, City failed to generate any truly threatening chances.
Despite a lack of shots on goal City did look the more dangerous side. After half an hour of limited action Iain Davidson spread the ball wide to David Cox who’s pass found Northcott, now in a more central role, however the promising counter attack broke down after Ewan Loudon was dispossessed.
If the visitors were to take the lead winger Robert Ward looked most likely to do so. After skipping past a couple of City defenders Ward took aim from well outside the Brechin box but his speculative effort soared over the bar.
With half time approaching and little to report City finally broke the deadlock. With 39 minutes on the clock a deep ball up the park from Kevin McHattie found David Cox on the edge of the area. After some excellent control Cox laid the ball off to strike partner GARRY WOOD who found a half yard to work with before slipping the ball through Inverurie keeper Andy Reid’s legs to open the scoring.
City searched for a second moments later when Seth Patrick picked out Jamie Bain on the right wing. Bain’s excellent low driven cross into the Inverurie penalty area met David Cox, but at a tough angle City’s number seven failed to test Reid, and subsequently conceded a foul.
Another City foul shortly before the break saw Seth Patrick enter referee Chris Fordyce’s book. Robert Ward posed a threat when he carved through the City midfield but he was stopped in his tracks by a cynical Patrick foul. Inverurie came within inches of an equaliser from the resulting free kick with Calum Dingwall’s long range effort brushing the post in the final minute of the first half.
With just four substitutes at City’s disposal Andy Kirk made no changes at half-time despite their attacking struggles. In another half of scarce chances City did start brightest. Five minutes after the restart City were awarded a free kick out wide. Jamie Bain’s in-swinging cross met the head of Garry Wood but his skewed header failed to trouble Reid.
Brechin embraced this momentum and looked to double their advantage. Hamish Thomson pinged the ball to David Cox who spun past Inverurie defender Thomas Reid with ease before teeing up Seth Patrick on the edge of the box, however the midfielder’s first time effort blazed over the bar.
City hadn’t opted for any personnel changes during the interval, however there was a change of shape. Jordan Northcott, who started at wing back out right, was now at the tip of a diamond in midfield, allowing City to counter attack more fluidly.
In amongst a short period of dominance for City the visitors did threaten a leveller once more. Striker Kieran Shanks scuffed his shot from a corner but Mark Souter was on hand to smash an effort goal bound at City’s Iain Ross who held well.
With 15 minutes remaining Inverurie pressed more thus opening holes for City to exploit. David Cox put in a tremendous shift and was dropping back to help ignite counter attacks.
With 7 minutes remaining Glebe Park held its breath as Inverurie furiously appealed for a penalty. Jamie Bain handled the ball in his own area but the referee spotted a shove from an Inverurie forward and awarded City a free kick much to the frustration of the visiting management.
Garry Wood came inches away from collecting a brace late on. After more resolute play from David Cox on the break his diagonal ball reached the oncoming Garry Wood on the edge of the area. Wood nudged the ball past an Inverurie defender and rounded him but the forward snatched at his shot as it dribbled out for a goal kick.
Captain Iain Davidson had the last legitimate chance of the game when his header flew just wide of the Inverurie goal from a Ewan Loudon corner.
City were able to keep possession and grind out a vital win and three huge points in the title race as Inverurie failed to capitalise on a limited Brechin side.
City remain 3rd in the Highland League and four points off Fraserburgh at the top of the table as we enter the business end of the season. Garry Wood also reached double figures on the season with his game winning strike. City will look to build on some fine form ahead of a crucial fixture this Saturday when they take on 4th placed Brora Rangers at Glebe Park.