City’s week of mixed fortunes

Rory McKenzie is closed down quickly by the Cowdenbeath defence.
Rory McKenzie is closed down quickly by the Cowdenbeath defence.

IT was a week of mixed fortunes for Brechin City Football Club - a single goal victory at home to Stenhousemuir in midweek followed by a last minute defeat at the hands of league leaders Cowdenbeath on Saturday.

Still, three points from six keeps City within touching distance of the promotion play-off spots.

Rory McKenzie begins to celebrate the match winning goal.

Rory McKenzie begins to celebrate the match winning goal.

At the time of going to press on Tuesday (yesterday), the reds were preparing for the latest rescheduled midweek game at home to struggling Stirling Albion that same evening.

There is another home fixture on Saturday, when Dumbarton come calling, while the remaining outstanding fixture will take City to East Fife on Tuesday evening of next week.

Hopefully, manager Jim Weir and his players will be in the top four, or at least still in their pitching once this hectic spell comes to an end.

Looking back on the action last midweek, the Brechin hero was on-loan striker Rory McKenzie, who netted his second goal in two games to seal a vital win against Stenhousemuir at Glebe Park.

The victory, which moved City up to fifth place in the second division table and on the coat-tails of Stenny, came at a huge cost though.

Jim Lister picked up a recurrence of an injury in the pre-match warm-up and had to be replaced from the bench by David McKenna who, in turn, was replaced by Charlie King, who is still feeling the effects of a calf injury.

Worse was to follow as Ewan Moyes had to leave the field early in the second-half while his replacement, David McClune, also had to come off after sustaining an injury.

Despite the injury worries, manager Jim Weir was pleased with his side’s victory against the Warriors.

“I was delighted with the players’ attitude,” he said.

“Stenny are on a good run and their front two players caused us problems but we kept our shape and our discipline and the players showed a lot of heart. I’m absolutely delighted with the three points.”

The first-half was hard-fought and evenly contested.

Stenny had the first opportunity after just five minutes when ex-Dundee midfielder Paul McHale had a shot from around 12 yards tipped over the bar by Craig Nelson.

In the 17th minute, Sean Dickson fired in a shot from just within the penalty-area which just missed the target and a minute later a 25-yard shot from Stewart Kean was easily gathered by Nelson.

City fought their way back into the game and on-loan Kilmarnock striker Rory McKenzie pushed forward into the visitors’ box in the 24th minute and fired in a shot but Ally Brown saved easily.

Brechin came close again three minutes later when Bryan Hodge collected the ball at the edge of the box and swivelled around before firing in a shot which went just over the bar and seconds later at the other end a Kean shot was palmed away for a corner by Nelson.

City though picked up the initiative again and Scott Buist was unlucky to see a header deflected for a corner and, a minute later, Paul McLean weaved his way into the Warriors box and tried a shot which went past Brown’s right-hand post.

The visitors had an early opportunity after the break when Gary Smith played a good ball into the box for Kean who steered his shot just wide of the target.

City had a half-chance in the 68th minute when David McKenna headed a Garry Brady corner just over the bar.

The hosts though made the vital breakthrough just a minute later.

Paul McManus collected a throw-in on the left and played the ball to McKenzie who took a couple of touches before firing home the winner into the far corner of the net.

It was then on to league leaders Cowden on Saturday, where City looked set to earn a precious away point until the hosts struck deep into injury time.

The end result was extremely harsh on a City side, depleted by injury, who must have thought that they were going to hold on for a valuable point.

Although the Blue Brazil had the majority of pressure and possession in the opening 45 minutes, the best chances fell to City, but unfortunately they couldn’t convert them.

It was a different story in the second-half when it was virtually one-way traffic towards Craig Nelson’s goal but the City defence performed heroics until Lyle popped up with virtually the last kick of the ball to score the goal that keeps his team at the top of the second division table.

There was further bad news on the injury front to compound City’s afternoon with ever-present full-back Paul McLean having to leave the field with what appeared to be a nasty hip injury early on in the second-half.

There was good news for City supporters when it was revealed just before kick-off that Mick Dunlop had recovered from injury and he took his usual place at the heart of the defence alongside Scott Buist.

The hosts started strongly and Derek Lyle had a 35 yard drive deflected for a corner by Craig Molloy after five minutes.

Three minutes later, Mark McKenzie crossed from the right for Lyle but he headed wide from around 12 yards out.

City had an opportunity after 13 minutes when Paul McLean disposed Lyle and passed across the penalty-box for Paul McManus but the striker couldn’t get his shot in under pressure from the home defence.

In the 16th minute, Gary Fisher collected the ball deep in the City half and fired in a shot which was well wide of the target.

City had a good chance after 20 minutes when Bryan Hodge delivered a great pass from a wide left position for McManus who outpaced Joe Mbu and bore in on goal but his shot from around 12 yards out was just wide of the target.

In the 22nd minute, Mark Ramsay won the ball from McLean and fired in a shot which went just past Craig Nelson’s right-hand post and a couple of minutes later, the City keeper was called into action when he parried a Jon Robertson drive from just within the box.

Cowden were certainly having the bulk of pressure and possession but City still looked as if they could do something when they moved forward and in the 39th minute,

Jonny Lindsay collected the ball on the left and cut inside before passing to Rory McKenzie whose right-foot drive from around 12 yards out went just over the bar.

The hosts put pressure on the visitors’ defence straight from the restart but the back four of McLean, Buist, Dunlop and Lindsay were defending stoutly and giving little away.

However, as the half wore on, Cowden began to turn the screw with periods of sustained pressure.

In the 65th minute, full-back Kenny Adamson fired in a shot which went well over the bar and a couple of minutes later, Robertson tried a shot which went in the same direction.

Cowden were piling on the pressure and in the 69th minute Lyle headed a McKenzie cross just past the post and the same player had a drive from ten yards just miss the target shortly afterwards.

In the 76th minute, Greg Stewart cut the ball back for Mark Ramsay, who shot just wide and three minutes later, Nelson was called into action when he brought off a good save from a Lyle free-kick.

The keeper brought off another fine save in the 79th minute when he dived to his right to save a 25 yard drive from Adamson and in the 86th minute, City had a couple of narrow escapes within seconds of each other when firstly a Robertson cross from the left hit the post with Gary Fusco, who had earlier replaced Paul McLean clearing another shot off the line second later.

With a minute remaining, Nelson brought off another good save, palming away a drive from Lyle, but the winger, who had been a thorn in the City’s defence throughout had the final say when he struck home the winner to the anguish of the City defence three minutes into stoppage-time.

A Stewart cross from the left was met by Lyle deep in the City penalty-box and this time he made no mistake from close-range.