Brechin City 1, Airdrie United 2
BRECHIN City were outfought and outplayed for large parts of this game at Glebe Park by a hard-working and more determined Airdrie United team, whose enthusiasm knew no bounds.
Brechin brought David McKenna and Kevin Byers back into the line-up at the expense of Gary Fusco and Jordan Kirkpatrick.
The visitors could have been ahead as early as the fourth minute, but Craig Nelson made a superb point-blank save to deny Scott Gemmill.
The same player was denied shortly afterwards, with Nelson pushing his low drive away to safety.
A clever through ball from Craig Molloy gave David Mckenna a chance in the tenth minute.
However, Mark Ridgers got down to save at his near post. The visitors continued to have the upper hand and they were denied again by Nelson who pushed away Gemmill’s header, despite the ball bouncing up awkwardly off the playing surface.
Airdrie United finally got their noses in front in the 32nd minute.
Gary McKay-Stevens, who gave City right-back Andy Cook a hard time, crossed from the left and Gerry McLaughlan knocked the ball past his own goalkeeper in trying to clear.
McLaughlan came to his side’s rescue seconds later, when he hooked Gemmill’s strike off the line after the striker had run half the length of the park.
City tried to fight back and McAllister raced up the right wing, but Kevin Byers couldn’t steer his cross to the far post goalwards.
Referee John Mckendrick denied City a penalty after Ridgers dropped Cook’s deep cross in the swirling wind.
The ball broke to Byers, whose drive appeared to be blocked by Jamie Bain’s hand. However, the official waved away City’s penalty claim.
Whatever assistant boss Kevin McGowne said to his players at half-time it had an almost immediate effect.
The assistant manager, in charge with boss Jim Weir away on business, was rewarded for his half-time salvo with an equaliser just two minutes into the restart.
Mitchel Megginson drove at Grant Smith and his shot was blocked but David McKenna showed great awareness to back-heel the ball home for his tenth goal of the season.
Ridgers came to his side’s rescue when he denied Kevin Byers. who struck a decent effort from 20 yards.
Then McKay-Stevens left Cook in his wake once again, but his cross to the far post was just beyond Gemmill.
Rory McAllister sent strike partner McKenna racing into the box, but the City marksman couldn’t muster enough gust to trouble Ridgers in the visitors’ goal.
Having shown a slight improvement in the second period, city were hit with a classic sucker punch in the 56th minute.
McCord burst through from midfield. The ball eventually broke out to Ryan Donnelly 25 yards out and he hit an unstoppable effort out of the reach of Nelson.
Brechin replied almost instantly. Craig Molloy beat Develin to a difficult ball inside the box and his effort beat the goalkeeper, but agonisingly rebounded back off the inside off the post.
A string of bookings followed, with Moyes cautioned for a late challenge on Gemmill and team-mate McLaughlan also booked for a challenge on the same player.
Substitute Danial McKay, who replaced Kevin Byers, was next to test Ridgers with a low drive at the far post and the goalkeeper was called into action again as McAllister headed on a Cook cross and McKenna’s net-bound header was tipped over the bar by the Airdrie goalkeeper.
A couple of substitutions followed, Airdrie replacing Owens with Blackley and the highly impressive McKay-Stevens with Stevenson.
McKay was denied once again when his low drive was deflected past the post by Bain.
Scott Gemmill was replaced by Paul Lovering as Airdrie did their utmost to hold on and City’s only real opportunity in the closing minutes saw Rory McAllister blast over the bar a couple of minutes into injury time.
McGowne said after the game his players had got what they deserved.
“The first half set the tone for me. Airdrie were by far the better side and we didn’t turn up in the first half.
“We played a bit better in the second half, but you can’t defend in the manner we defended in the first half and expect to win games.
“That’s us lost another two goals. Take away the Livingston game on Saturday and we’ve been losing too many goals. You can’t expect to score three and four goals to win games every week.
“On the whole we didn’t do enough, especially in the first half.
“Being one-nil up had Airdrie’s tails up at half-time. We huffed and puffed a bit in the second half and forced their goalkeeper into a couple of saves.
“Our goalkeeper actually kept us in the game in the first half. Craig Nelson should be omitted from the criticism of the rest of the team, because he did really well to keep us in the game at crucial moments.
“These are all massive games. We are looking to cement our play-off place.
“We want to get over the line and ensure we are in there and the quicker we make sure of that the better. Last Tuesday evening’s performance wasn’t acceptable, but the players know that.”
Brechin City - Nelson, Cook, McLauchlan, Moyes, McBain, Janczyk, Megginson (Kirkpatrick), Molloy, Byers (McKay), McAllister and McKenna.
Airdrie United - Ridgers, Bain, Devlin, Stallard, Smith, Johnston, Owens (Blackley), McCord, Mackay-Steven (Stevenson), Gemmill (Lovering) and Donnelly.
Referee - John McKendrick; crowd - 438.