Inverness Caledonian Thistle
Match Report - By John Hoey
Brechin City’s long unbeaten run came to an end at the Caledonian Stadium where Inverness won 4-3 on penalties after the sides had drawn 3-3 at the end of the ninety minutes.
Brechin were desperately unlucky not to go in to the hat for the next round draw after they had come back from 3-1 down to level the match in the closing stages. At that point they certainly looked the likelier side to grab the winner but unfortunately it wasn’t to be with Inverness prevailing by 4-3 in the penalty shoot-out.
City can take great pride in the way they performed against a Championship side who just failed to clinch Premiership status last season. There there can be little doubt that the work-rate and commitment shown by the players over the course of the ninety minutes augurs well for the league campaign ahead.
City Manager Andy Kirk made a couple of changes to the team which had defeated Jeanfield Swifts by 5-1 in the first round of the Scottish Cup last Saturday. He handed a debut to on-loan Raith Rovers youngster Aaron Arnott who was joined in midfield by Michael McArthur with Ewan Loudon and Anthony McDonald dropping to the bench.
City would have been keen to avoid losing an early goal but it took the hosts only four minutes to grab the lead. The visitors failed to clear their lines following a corner with GEORGE OAKLEY on hand at the far post to tap the ball past Lenny Wilson in the City goal.
Inverness threatened again just six minutes later when Oakley almost latched on to a long pass from defence but Wilson was alert to the danger and gathered the ball safely.
City were trying to push forward when the opportunity arose and Euan Spark played a good pass forward to Jordan Northcott wide on the right who in turn played a quick pass to Marc Scott at the right edge of the penalty area. However 'Marco' was unable to find any way past Inverness centre-back Danny Devine who cleared the ball away.
City then had a half-chance in the 14th minute when Northcott played a pass across the edge of the penalty area for debutant Aaron Arnott but he steered his shot well wide of the target.
City then had to make an enforced change after 25 minutes after Michael McArthur picked up an injury to be replaced by Ewan Loudon.
City were certainly not looking overawed by their Championship opponents and they dramatically levelled the match three minutes later with a spectacular goal from KEVIN MCHATTIE. He collected the ball at the edge of the box and then blasted an unstoppable left-foot drive into the top corner giving Inverness keeper Cameron MacKay no chance.
The goal gave City confidence to push forward and they were playing some good passing movements without creating anything clear-cut but they were dealt a body-blow seven minutes before the break.
The ever reliable Nathan Cooney made an unaccustomed error when he was short with a pass back which was intercepted by Oakley - he played a short pass to the unmarked NATHAN SHAW who took time to steady himself before rifling a right-foot drive into the bottom corner of the net.
Inverness started the second-half with Devine and Cameron Harper being replaced by Scott Allardice and Robbie Deas. The half was barely two minutes old when the hosts extended their advantage from the penalty-spot with GEORGE OAKLEY converting after Wallace Duffy had been brought down in the box by Cooney.
It was certainly not the start City would have wanted but they fought back immediately with Grady McGrath firing a right-foot shot well over the bar and the same player tried a similar shot ten minutes later which was a couple of yards wide of the target.
Inverness then created an opportunity when Shaw made room for himself at the edge of the box before firing in a shot but it lacked power and Wilson saved easily.
City then made their second substitution of the match after 68 minutes when Arnott was replaced by Jamie Bain.
The hosts then almost increased their advantage in 70th minute when Shaw weaved his way into the City box and fired in a shot which was headed behind the goal by Euan Spark. From the resultant corner, Deas rose above the City defence to head just over the bar.
City responded straight away and they dramatically reduced the deficit when Scott raced clear of the home defence and squared the ball across the face of the goal for GRADY MCGRATH who had the simple task of tapping the ball into the net .
City had their tails up and McGrath was unlucky to see a net-bound shot cleared for a corner following a Michael Cruickshank cross. The equaliser was only delayed by seconds however when EUAN SPARK on the spot to slot the ball past MacKay after a cross from the left was headed into his path by Cooney.
With seconds remaining City made a double substitution with Ryan McInnes and Kieran Inglis replacing Spark and Scott but they were barely on the park before referee Barry Cook blew the full-time whistle.
The match ten went to penalties where Jamie Bain struck the bar the opening spot kick, with Billy McKay putting Inverness in front. The score was back level again however with McGrath converted for City, whilst George Oakley hit the bar.
Ewan Loudon and Kieran Inglis both despatched their penalties with Boyd & Allardice doing likewise for Caley before MacKay saved from Ryan McInnes. Robbie Deas converted the decisive spot kick to send the Championship side through to the 4th round.