Match Report - By Steven Mew
Brechin cruised into the second round of the Scottish Cup yesterday afternoon as another hat-trick from Grady McGrath helped City to a comfortable win over fellow Highland League side Rothes.
The result set up a tasty rematch in the 2nd round against League 2 side Spartans, who defeated City in the Pyramid Playoff semi-final at the end of last season.
Manager Andy Kirk made 3 changes from the side that defeated Strathspey Thistle 5-0 last weekend. Lenny Wilson returned in goal whilst Ryan Ferguson and Marc Scott also came in after being unavailable last weekend.
On a pleasant Autumn afternoon at the Carnegie Fuels Stadium at Glebe Park, City came flying out the traps and immediately had the Rothes defence under pressure.
In the opening seconds, Macleod sent Scott scampering down the left hand side and his low cross flashed right across the face of goal.
But barely a minute later City were ahead. Again Scott was the architect as his right sided cross found GRADY MCGRATH ten yards out – the City striker took a touch before smashing a volley high into the net.
‘Marco’ was looking lively in what appeared to be a free role and on 9 minutes he outpaced Milne to latch onto a through ball but his low strike was kept out by the feet of McCarthy in goal.
Just after the quarter hour mark, MacLeod teed up McHattie on the edge of the box but he didn’t quite catch the shot properly and the ball flew high and wide of the target.
Barely a minute later, McGrath dinked a fine ball over the top for Moreland – his angled strike came agonisingly off the inside of the post and across the face of goal before being cleared for a corner.
City kept pushing for that second goal and a low strike from Ferguson was diverted goalward by McHattie but his effort was cleared off the line. The ball came back to Macleod who teed up McGrath on the edge of the box and although his strike had the keeper beaten, a defender was there again to clear.
The home side were in complete control but the Speysiders threatened on the break on 38 minutes. Morrison played Pollock in on goal and the midfielder took a touch inside before his strike was well blocked by Spark.
Just a few minutes before the break, Rothes really should have equalised when an uncharacteristic error from Thomson allowed Morrison a clear run at goal but his effort came off the post, sparing the blushes of the City defender.
In a similar fashion to the first half, GRADY MCGRATH doubled the advantage within two minutes of kickoff in the second period. It was a delightful passing move from City that featured no less than 8 players in the build up – ending with Martin delivering a low ball into the box for McGrath to pass into the net from close range.
GRADY MCGRATH was simply oozing confidence and he grabbed his hat-trick, for the second time in the space of a week, just 3 minutes later. He made a clever run in behind the defence to receive a ball over the top from Moreland and he showed outstanding technique and composure to lob the ball over the keeper and into the net.
McGrath very nearly turned provider just a few minutes later when his low cross into the box very nearly found Scott lurking at the back post, but the ball was turned away by the defender for a corner.
On 56 minutes, Patrick won a free kick 25 yards out which was taken by McGrath, but his low strike was straight at McCarthy in the Rothes goal.
McGrath continued to threaten for the hosts and very nearly grabbed his 4th goal on the hour mark. MacLeod threaded a fine ball through for the City striker but his finish came off the trailing leg of the keeper and spun onto the post and out for a corner.
With a 3 goal lead and the game effectively over as a contest, Manager Andy Kirk had the relative luxury of being able to bring off some of his key players with one eye on a tough trip to face Banks O’ Dee in midweek. McGrath and Spark came off for Duell and Murray on 63 minutes, whilst McHattie made way for Heenan nine minutes later.
The match started to peter out slightly, with City making a further double change 8 minutes from time with McArthur and White replacing Ferguson and Scott.
As the game entered stoppage time, City rounded off a fine performance with a 4th goal courtesy of substitute STUART HEENAN. The young striker controlled a cross from fellow sub Ewan Murray and on the turn he smashed his shot high into the net from close range.
In the dying seconds, it could have easily been five for City when White latched onto a 25 yard pass from MacLeod but his fierce strike was palmed away by McCarthy.
Overall it was a thoroughly professional performance from City to advance the next round and confidence is high ahead of a tricky trip to face Banks O’Dee in the Highland League on Wednesday evening (8pm KO).