Brechin City 1 Rangers 2
(after extra time)
Brechin City spent the last week in the media spotlight as the club and town prepared to welcome Rangers in their first ever competitive match in the Ramsdens cup first round (writes Amanda Taylor).
It wasn’t until late on Friday evening that the match was confirmed as going ahead.
Rangers had to settle for a temporary licence as an agreement with the SFA failed to arrive on time.
The trouble the club is in was evident in the team line-ups, with visiting manager Ally McCoist unable to fill his substitutes’ bench.
The occasion could have seen the Brechin players falter under the intense scrutiny that is sure to follow the Glasgow side around the country, but they proved that Brechin City could battle with the best as they forced Rangers in to extra time.
As the teams prepared to take to the field in the historic fixtures, a full capacity crowd of 4123 fans made their voices heard - with ‘Jim Weir’s Barmy Army’ going up against Ally McCoist’s.
Rangers started sharp, taking the lead in the first four minutes, when Andrew Little pounced on a through-ball and gave Michael Andrews in the Brechin goal no chance of saving his right footed shot.
Brechin didn’t let the goal get to them, and the players showed Rangers that life in the SFL is much tougher than they had anticipated, with City putting in tough, but fair challenges.
The match saw a few personal battles merge - with man-of-the-match Gerry McLauchlan determined not let Lee McCulloch have a say in the match.
The chances Rangers created were snubbed out by calm defending from both McLauchlan and Ewan Moyes, who dominated in the air.
On the occasions Rangers got a chance at goal, Andrews was more than a match for the shots, saving attempts by Kirk Broadfoot and Lee Wallace.
Rangers’ Little appealed for a penalty in the 37th minute, which referee George Salmond rightly waved away.
City proved the more determined of the two sides as the game progressed, and two minutes from half-time a defensive shocker allowed them back into the game.
Broadfoot seemed to get muddled and failed to play the ball out, with Andy Jackson, capitalising on his error.
The striker wasted no time getting into the box and brushing off a challenge from Dorin Goian before slotting the ball under Alexander and into the back of the net, securing his first competitive goal for City.
It was City who bossed the second half, with Craig Molloy firing over the bar just after the restart.
Ryan Stewart then played in a great ball from the wing into the box, but Alexander pushed the resulting shot out wide for a corner.
Rangers appealed for another penalty in the 76th minute, as they felt Barry McKay’s attempt struck Paul McLean’s arm, but again the referee was positioned well and signalled for play to continue.
As full-time approached, Rangers lack of match fitness was evident as they played out the draw for extra time.
Brechin almost netted a last gasp winner with Jonathan Stewart passing the ball into the box, but City players just couldn’t quite get on the end of it.
During extra time, City had a glorious chance, when Jackson played in David McKenna, but his drive was deflected over.
Rangers thought they had secured their second when Little netted, but he had failed to see the assistant referee flagging for offside.
It was a set play in 102nd minute that put to bed Brechin’s chances of progressing into the second round.
McCulloch rose above the Brechin defence to head home Lewis MacLeod’s corner.
Brechin City manager, Jim Weir, said: “I’ve got to be pleased at how well we played against a quality side. The fans went away happy with the performance.
“I thought we defended really well. The two centre backs did great.
“I was pleased to take Rangers to extra time, but it was a shame to lose to a set play.”
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s Scottish Communities League Cup clash away to Stenhousemuir, Weir added: “We’ve got to take our form into the coming season. The players have set a standard now.”