Match Report - By Steven Mew
City surged back to the top of the Highland League following a dramatic last minute winner against Forres Mechanics yesterday afternoon.
The victory, coupled with Buckie losing at Fraserburgh, saw Andy Kirk’s side move three points clear with a game in hand over the Jags.
Considerable rainfall over the last couple of days had put the game in severe doubt, however the hard work of volunteers and ground-staff ensured the game went ahead, albeit on an extremely heavy surface.
Manager Andy Kirk made 3 changes from the side that defeated Rothes in the Highland League Cup last weekend, with Lenny Wilson, Jamie Bain and Anthony McDonald coming into the starting 11 at the expense of Dean Easton, Michael Cruickshank and Ewan Loudon.
City conjured up the first chance of the game after 8 minutes when Spark’s cross was cleared only as far as McGrath who saw his volley blocked before Inglis fired over from the rebound. McGrath would threaten again a few minutes later when he collected a pass from MacLeod but his effort was tame and straight at Knight in the Forres goal.
Just after the quarter hour mark, the ball fell kindly for Botti Biabi inside the box but he didn’t get enough on the effort and Knight was there to deny.
On 19 minutes, the impressive Fraser MacLeod engineered some space on the edge of the box before striking for goal but it was straight down the throat of the Forres keeper.
With their first real effort on goal, the visitors took the lead on 22 minutes when JACK GRANT fired an unstoppable strike beyond Wilson from the edge of the box.
Undeterred by the goal, City continued to threaten with MacLeod threading a fine through ball for McGrath inside the box but he was denied by the feet of Knight.
City had the ball in the net after 33 minutes when Biabi converted from close range after a deflected shot had diverted into his path, however the linesman had his flag up for offside.
The chances kept coming for City – a lofted ball over the top sent McGrath through on goal but his lob over the advancing keeper went wide of goal.
Five minutes before the break, Inglis fired a shot wide of the post which appeared to take a deflection, however to the dismay of City players the referee awarded a goal kick.
A goal down at the break, City needed a big second half to ensure their unbeaten league record continued and despite a switch up in formation, they were finding it increasingly difficult to find a way past a stubborn Forres side.
Seven minutes into the second half, Scott played a pass into McGrath on the left hand side of the box and his strike went inches past the far post.
In comparison to the opening 45, chances were certainly few and far between for the hosts so it came as a huge relief when MARC SCOTT scraped home the equaliser in the 67th minute from six yards out.
With ten minutes remaining, City won a free kick on the edge of the box with Inglis firing straight at the wall. The rebound fell for Jamie Bain but the skipper fired well over the bar.
Just as it looked like City would have to settle for a point, GRADY MCGRATH was sent clean through on goal as the game approached 90 minutes and as he looked to round the keeper, he was brought down with the referee pointing immediately to the spot. In the aftermath of the award, Dale Wood was given his marching orders for his protestations.
McGrath picked himself up to take the spot kick, smashing the ball confidently down the middle to send the supporters in the Cemetery End into raptures.
City held on for the crucial 3 points which extends the unbeaten league run to 25 matches. Our scheduled fixture against Formartine United next week has been postponed due to their involvement in the Scottish Cup – next up is a trip to face Lossiemouth in the 2nd round of the Highland League Cup on Saturday, 3rd December.
Other Results - Breedon Highland League
Banks O' Dee 3 Inverurie Locos 4
Brechin City 2 Forres Mechanics 1
Clachnacuddin 2 Huntly 0
Fraserburgh 1 Buckie Thistle 0
Lossiemouth 2 Deveronvale 3
Strathspey Thistle 0 Formartine United 0