Brechin City 1 East Fife 3
HAVING covered football matches at Glebe Park for the best part of the last two decades I thought I had seen just about every controversial thing possible in the game.
That was until the intervention of stand side assistant Andy McWilliam on Saturday.
Already a goal behind to former player Mark McCulloch’s clinically executed 20 yard drive, Brechin City’s players were left raging after McCulloch’s cross took a deflection and Craig Nelson dived forward to grasp it comfortably.
McWilliam, who was a further ten to 12 yards up the touchline at the time flagged to award a goal, claiming that the ball had crossed the line.
Not a single East Fife player claimed a goal in the vicinity and McCulloch looked almost as bemused as Craig Nelson at the award of a goal.
While City once again were not at their best, a few crucial decisions went against them throughout the game.
The second goal apart, there were claims of a foul in the lead up to the first and the aforementioned foul on Moyes in the lead up to the third was all the more annoying as it happened in front of the referee, whose consistency was about as even as the bounce of the ball on the fiery Glebe Park surface.
McCulloch was first to test Nelson with a 20-yard effort that the goalkeeper stooped to comfortably hold. City responded immediately and Ovenston was penalised for a challenge on McAllister.
The striker struck the free-kick cleanly, but Michael Brown dived to hold his low drive at his far post.
Brechin produced their best move of the first half when McAllister combined with Redman on the edge of the box.
The striker’s inviting cross to the far post deserved, at the very least, someone going an dattacking it.
City almost got in front following a Janczyk corner. Craig Molloy’s volley was deflected towards Davie McKenna at the far post and the striker tried to prod the ball home.
However, Brown again came to his side’s rescue to punch the all for a corner. Moyes volleyed the corner over the bar.
City continued to have the upper hand in the last third of the field and McAllister was unceremoniously dumped by Ovenstone with a free-kick being awarded on the edge of the box.
Janczyk hit a decent left-foot effort, but Brown again made an excellent save to deny the City skipper.
Having failed to press home the advantage, City were left cursing their luck with a goal against the run of play in the 27th minute.
City first appealed, without reward for a blatant hand ball against Wallace, which the referee failed to spot then Hislop clearly backed into Moyes in the build-up, before Linn rolled the ball to the edge of the box and Mark McCulloch struck a well hit drive past Nelson.
City tried to hit back immediately and Craig Molloy burst through to strike an effort to Brown’s far post. However, once again the East fife goalkeeper excelled in his handling to keep Brechin at bay.
It was then Craig Nelson’s turn to get in on the act when he dealt with Lloyd Young’s 25-yard drive.
Molloy almost caught out the Fifers after he raced away following City’s defence of a corner. however, having run half the length of the park, th midfielder scrwed his effort wide of the goalkeeper’s right-hand post.
City almost levelled on the stroke of half-time. McAllister challenged Brown in what seemed almost lost cause.
The goalkeeper spun around and threw the ball towards his own net, and only the intervention of John Ovenstone - he got back to hook the ball off the line - saved the stopper’s blushes.
As Brechin looked for a way back into the game, Danny McKay was brought on for Kevin Byers on the restart.
Janczyk once gain was denied from a set play. Then came that second Fife goal.
The reaction of players tells a lot in a situation like this and when McCulloch’s cross from the left took a deflection off Cook and spun towards Nelson the goalkeeper dived forward and grabbed the ball and looked to be well in front of his line.
Indeed, the majority of the Fife players retreated back up the park, before the referee, on the advice of his assistant, awarded the goal.
Craig Nelson was furious with the decision. The Brechin goalkeeper, usually the most laid back of characters, understandably let the referee know how he felt, as did Craig Molloy, who was booked, a yellow card that was to prove costly later in the game.
On the hour mark city were back in it after Muir hacked down Molloy.
Janczyk delivered a free-kick to the far post and Moyes headed home from close range.
East fife goalkeeper Michael Brown was undoubtedly his side’s man-of-the-match and again he produced some heroics when he pushed away McKenna’s cleanly struck effort.
Bobby Linn was next in the ref’s notebook for a late challenge on Craig Molloy.
In the 71st minute Ryan Wallace sprung the City offside trap and, despite what appeared to be a foul on Ewan Moys, the impressive Fife forward was allowed to run through and net his side’s third goal.
City thought they had got a goal back when McKay got his head to Janczyk corner and glanced the ball goalwards.
The ball struck the underside of the crossbar and then the post and once again there was an intervention, this time from far side assistant Graham Beaton, who raised his flag, only to be ignored by referee Stephen Finnie.
Brechin’s players claimed the ball had crossed the line, but the official wasn’t interested.
In the closing stages, sub Mitch Megginson was the next City player to be denied by Brown when he acrobatically pushed away the on-loan Don’s well-struck strike at goal.
To cap a totally inept performance from all three officials, Craig Molloy was sent off in the last kick off the ball for a tackle on Linn.
A free-kick was all it was worth and Roy McBain, having pointed this out to the referee, followed some of his team mates into Mr Finnie’s notebook.
Brechin really need to up their game in their remaining fixtures.
Hopefully, however, they won’t have to contend with the sort of careless and sloppy match officials who were at Glebe Park on Saturday.
Brechin City - Nelson, Cook, McBain, McLauchlan, Moyes, Redman (Megginson), Molloy, Janczyk (Fusco), Byers (McKay), McAllister and McKenna.
East Fife - Michael Brown, Durie, Park, Ovenstone, McGowan, Muir, Young, McCulloch, Wallace, Linn and Hislop (Smart).