Match Report - By Eoin McNicol
A feisty battle at Glebe Park was decided by Ewan Loudon’s late spot kick as Brechin fought hard to take three points against nine-man Formartine.
City began their road to defending the Highland League title yesterday afternoon with victory against the only side to inflict defeat on them last season, in what turned out to be a heated outing with 2 red cards for the Pitmedden side.
Brechin were frustrated throughout the game by Formartine who sat back being a man down for a large part of the match, but a penalty late on was the difference thanks to Ewan Loudon smashing it home.
There were two changes to the starting lineup from the victory over Clyde on Tuesday evening, with Heenan dropping to the bench as Spencer Moreland and Michael Cruickshank came in. Lewis Martin also missed out through injury.
Brechin looked to open their account just 2 minutes into the new season as good attacking play from City down the right helped them work their way into the box, where Euan Loudon laid off Spencer Moreland who side footed the ball over the crossbar.
Formartine looked the more likely side early on - they broke down the left hand side after intercepting a misplaced pass from Spark and ex-City man Julian Wade looked sure to tap in at the front post if it wasn’t for Hamish Thomson who put in a superb block to deny the opportunity.
12 minutes in, Fraser MacLeod weaved in and out down the right past Daniel Park before eventually being dragged down by the defender. The free kick was taken by Loudon, but Formartine cleared inside the box.
Formartine’s goalkeeper Ewen MacDonald was let off after nearly conceding a howler in the 18th minute. Marc Scott’s dinked cross towards the front post was misjudged by the keeper as it bobbled under his body, but MacDonald managed to gather on second attempt on the goal line to save his blushes.
The first half was full of reckless and late challenges as tempers flared on opening day at the Carnegie Fuels Stadium at Glebe Park. Therefore, it came as little surprise when a red card was shown in the 29th minute when Formartine’s Paul Campbell was sent for an early bath after receiving his second yellow.
Brechin looked to quickly capitalise on having the extra man, creating multiple opportunities to put themselves ahead. Mudie tried his luck with a shot from the edge of the area as his shot whistled past the top left corner. Just a minute later, good play between Marc Scott and Fraser MacLeod fashioned an opportunity as Scott laid off MacLeod with a back heel before the shot down the middle of goal failed to test MacDonald in goal.
MacLeod would have another go shortly after and this time forced an excellent save from the goalkeeper as his shot was curling into the bottom left corner, but MacDonald was equal to it as he stretched to tip the ball round the post before McGrath blasted the rebound into the side netting.
54 minutes in, City were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position after MacLeod was on the receiving end of a poor tackle. The free kick was taken by McGrath, but the wall did its job in blocking McGraths powerful effort.
Andy Kirk made an attacking substitution on the hour mark as a trialist came on for Moreland.
Formartine threatened around the 70 minute mark, with tricky winger Adam Leslie looking dangerous down the left. A great ball into the box from the ex-Aberdeen man into Aaron Norris nearly threatened, but Michael McArthur robbed him of possession and cleared. McArthur was called into defensive duties again a few minutes later when Formartine broke down the left again from a short free kick, but McArthur again won back possession in his box and cleared long.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, Ewan Loudon’s pressure on Rhys Thomas saw the Formartine defender hammer the ball out for a City corner. The resulting corner was taken by substitute Stuart Heenan, who floated the ball into the box to find the head of McGrath, but his header was too high.
Just short of quarter of an hour remaining, Brechin were given the opportunity to open the scoring after the substitute trialist was taken down in the box, with the referee pointing straight to the spot. EWAN LOUDON was the man to step up and showed great composure as he rifled his penalty into the bottom left corner.
The last few minutes of the game were action packed with the trialist missing an opportunity to kill the game after receiving a cut back, but the attacker dragged his shot wide of the far post. Formartine then found themselves reduced to nine men after Jonathan Crawford was shown red after a two-footed challenge on Fraser MacLeod.
A Formartine free kick from distance deep into stoppage time saw United throw the kitchen sink at it as they piled into City’s box. The free kick was met at the back post before being headed across goal where the ball hit against the post and off the line as the Brechin backline scrambled to get it clear.
There was a sense of relief when the referee blew the final whistle to seal a hard fought, narrow victory. It wasn’t the prettiest of football at the Carnegie Fuels Stadium at Glebe Park for the opening day of the season, but Brechin managed to dig in and take all 3 points to begin their Highland League title defence.
Next up is another home fixture against Hearts B in the 1st round of the SPFL Trust Trophy on Tuesday evening (7:30pm KO).
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