Match Report - By Eoin McNicol
City clinched the Highland League title in dramatic fashion as late goals from Ewan Loudon and Grady McGrath sparked wild celebrations amongst a large travelling support at Victoria Park yesterday afternoon.
Andy Kirk made 2 changes for this final day clash following the midweek win over Keith. Hamish Thomson and Kieran Inglis replaced Anthony McDonald and Michael McArthur in the starting line-up.
It was an impressive turnout for this Highland League title clash. Buckie had the first chance of the match after being awarded an early free kick just 2 minutes in after Nathan Cooney fouled Joshua Peters in a dangerous area. Andrew MacAskill picked out Sam Urquhart with his pinpoint set piece however Urquhart slipped and squandered the early chance.
Twelve minutes in, Hamish Thomson and Nathan Cooney both missed the ball following a Buckie long ball which granted Joshua Peters a one-on-one chance, the striker cheekily dinked the ball over Wilson and his lofted effort was heading goalward, but Euan Spark was there to produce the goal line clearance.
City had their first chance 15 minutes in via a free kick won by Marc Scott on the wing. Nathan Cooney sent a ball over the top of the defence for Jamie Bain on the by-line who crossed into the box - the ball fell for Marc Scott in the box before he fired at goal which was frustratingly blocked by his own man.
Buckie started to pile on the pressure and were persistent with their long ball tactic which seemed to be working as City struggled to get the ball down and play.
On 25 minutes, Buckie were denied twice in quick succession as they began to pepper Lenny Wilson’s goal. Euan Spark blocked Joshua Peter’s effort after he controlled a MacAskill free kick before blasting goalward. City couldn’t fully clear as the ball landed to Sam Pugh on the edge of the box and opted to shoot, but Hamish Thomson was there to make another hugely important block.
Shortly after, City were on the attack as McGrath ran goalward with Scott to his right, but the striker seemed caught in two minds and was stripped of possession.
Buckie’s long ball caused issues for the City defence with Josh Peters played in behind again, but Lenny Wilson rushed out to head the ball clear.
On 35 minutes, Fraser MacLeod was dispossessed before Marcus Goodall hit from distance, but Lenny Wilson was there to parry the ball away from his goal.
Just before the break, Hamish Thomson lost possession in the middle, but Kieran Inglis made a superb sliding tackle to stop the Buckie counter. Inglis tried to make an impact again a minute later as he smashed a shot over the bar from range after a nice run from midfield.
Brechin started the second half more brightly which produced an excellent end to end start to the second period. Marc Scott’s cross looked like it was going to creep in but was inches wide and out for a goal kick.
It was corner after corner for City in the second period as they increased the pressure, but the towering Buckie goalkeeper Balint Demus was there to deal with every set piece that came at him.
Jamie Bain’s shot from range was deflected wide of the post for another corner, just missing Botti Biabi’s outstretched leg to turn it goalward. This time, Inglis opted for a lower corner which Demus almost spilled on his line but managed to recover and hold it.
Just under the hour mark, Sam Pugh booted the ball over his own goal following pressure from McGrath. The corner again was cleared by Buckie and the Jags were on the break, but Lenny was alert to the danger again to rush out and beat Joshua Peters to the ball.
Buckie didn’t threaten the City backline nearly as much as the first half, opting to sit back and play for the draw with time on their side.
With just four minutes remaining, substitute EWAN LOUDON stepped up to the plate and grabbed the all-important first goal in excellent fashion. The midfielder produced a fine touch in the middle of the Buckie half before turning and darting forward, skipping past Buckie challenges in the process. Loudon finished the moment of individual brilliance with a powerful shot from just outside the box where it sneaked in the far left corner as Balint Demus was rooted to the spot.
The goal sparked wild scenes amongst the travelling support with the kick off delayed as the fans cleared back off the park.
Buckie threw the kitchen sink at is as they searched for a late equaliser to turn the tide back in their favour. As the game entered stoppage time, McHattie produced an unbelieve block to deny Peters, but the danger wasn’t over as Goodall hit another shot which was blasted over the bar.
It was heart in the mouth stuff for City fans as Buckie chased their goal, but City’s title would soon be secured through GRADY MCGRATH with the last kick of the game. Euan Spark booted the ball forward to clear where Botti Biabi showed superb strength and hold up play before flicking the ball to McGrath to put him through one-on-one. Grady showed great composure in the dying seconds to tuck his effort across the keeper and into the bottom left corner to seal the title as the City fans piled onto the pitch in celebration.
Overall, an unbelievable end to a fantastic campaign as Brechin fought until the very end to grab the late goals and secure the title. Next up, the Highland League Champions face Lowland League winners, Spartans FC, in the playoffs at Ainslie Park next Saturday.
Other Results - Breedon Highland League
Brora Rangers 3 Rothes 0
Deveronvale 2 Nairn County 3
Formartine United 2 Inverurie Locos 1
Fraserburgh 3 Strathspey Thistle 1
Keith 2 Banks O' Dee 3
Turriff United 4 Clachnacuddin 1
Wick Academy 2 Lossiemouth 2