Brechin City 3 Dumbarton 3
BRECHIN were left cursing their luck after missing numerous second half opportunities to kill off a thrilling encounter against a Dumbarton side that tried to play attractive football for the majorioty of this end-to-end encounter (writes Steve Mitchell).
Jamie Redman and David McKenna returned to the City line-up at the expense of Neil Janczyk and Daniel McKay.
The second period, especially, should have seen City home and dry after they had gone three-two ahead, but they missed a host of golden opportunities and were made to pay the ultimate price by a tidy Dumbarton outfit whose passing was all the more impressive on the sticky Glebe Park surface.
City enjoyed a dream start after just eight minutes.
Rory McAllister sent in an excellent cross from the right wing and Kevin Byers looped an intelligent header over the out stretchered arms of Sons’ goalkeeper, Stephen Grindlay.
The lead lasted just two minutes, however.
The tireless Mark Gilhaney threaded a ball beyond the Andy Cook and on-loan St Mirren striker Jon McShane fired home under Craig Nelson at his near post.
Craig Molloy then produced three excellent attempts on the visitors’ goal - once being denied by Grindlay, once by a timely intervention from Paul Nugent and a third time when he squeezed the ball through a crowded box, but just past the post.
Referee Thomas Robertson denied City what looked like a clear-cut penalty when Jamie Redman burst into the box and away from Martin McNiff. The defender brought him crashing to the floor but the match official waved away City’s penalty claims.
Gerry McLaughlan was the first player to pick up a caution for a late challenge on Pat Walker.
That challenge was, however, surpassed, by Paul Nugent’s ‘tackle’ on Kevin Byers right on the half-time whistle.
The Sons player was perhaps fortunate just to receive a yellow card for physically throwing Byers to the ground as he darted around him.
City produced an almost classic counter attack, after they had defended a corner.
However, Kevin Byers was denied by Grindlay at his near post, after a deft through ball from David McKenna.
Brechin had gradually gained the upper hand and Kevin Byers was played the leading role in their second goal.
He cut in from the right and blasted a shot at goal, which Ben Gordon appeared to save with a hand on the line. With City’s penalty claims still ringing in the ears of Thomas Robertson Byers blasted home the rebound to make it two-one.
Just a minute later Dumbarton were almost bemused to be level again, after City failed to deal with a ball to the far post and Pat Walker’s outstretched leg guided the ball beyond the exposed Craig Nelson.
In a game which was a credit to both sides and the second division, City found themselves in front again just three minutes later.
Rory McAllister cut in from the left touchline and curled a glorious effort into Grindlay’s top left-hand corner from all of 30 yards out.
It was a goal Dumbarton manager Alan Adamson would describe after the game as “fitting of winning any game anywhere.”
At this point Brechin really should have killed the game off.
McAllister was denied his second and his side’s fourth when Grindlay produced a wonder save to keep out his close range effort.
Paul McLean then burst into the box and beat two defenders, before cutting the ball back from the touchline, but both McKenna and McAllister were blocked from getting the all-important final touch.
Paul Nugent was next to keep his side in the game when he hooked McAllister’s net-bound effort off the line.
The miss was to prove costly as Jon McShane burst through the heart of the City rearguard to fire the sides all-square again.
With two minutes left McAllister glanced substitute Janczyk’s free-kick over the bar from ten yards.
And the Dumbarton goal had an even more miraculous escape after McAllister rounded Grindlay and tried to roll the ball into the net only for Nugent once again to be on hand to fire it away to safety.
Rory McAllister was booked in injury time. The striker’s frustration getting the better of him and little wonder, as his side should have had their opponents dead and buried, but were made to pay for their missed chances and slack defending.
After the game, City assistant boss Kevin McGowne said: “We have been outstanding defensively for most of the season and I didn’t recognise us at the back at times this evening.
“To our credit we battle away and had numerous chances after going three-two in front.
“However, Dumbarton were never out of it and we paid the price for not killing the game off. Our goalkeeper hasn’t made one save in the entire game and yet had to pick the ball out of the net three times - that says it all really.
“We should have buried the game having gone three-two up and our failure to kill itoff has cost us in the end.”
Brechin City - Nelson, McLean, Cook, McLauchlan, Moyes, Redman, Fusco (Janczyk), Molloy, Byers, McAllister and McKenna (McKay). Dumbarton - Grindley, Nicky Devlin, McNiff, Gordon, Nugent, Gilhaney, Creaney (Cook), Geggan, Walker, McShane and McStay.