Ayr United 2. Brechin City 0
DEFEAT, especially on the road, has become something of an alien concept for Brechin City supporters this season.
At Ayr on Saturday they were well beaten by a home side that didn’t look streets ahead of them, but perhaps one whose awareness of the current situation at the top of the second division made their needs greater than that of City’s - and it showed for much of the game.
Brechin brought back skipper Neil Janczyk, while Jordan Kirkpatrick was on the bench. Danny McKay started up front with Rory McAllister.
The opening 20 minutes or so of the game was a rather one-paced affair as both sides sounded each other out. It certainly didn’t have the rip-roaring appeal you would expect from two sides at the top of the division.
It was Ayr who threatened first, when Michael Moffat got between his markers to head past the post from Scott McLaughlin’s cross from the right flank.
City’s first attempt on goal came after Craig Molloy was brought down 25 yards from goal.
However, Rory McAllister’s free-kick was deflected for a corner, subsequently headed clear by Martyn Campbell.
City settled a little and both Molloy and McAllister had efforts from 25 yards, which saw the first fly over the bar and the second held by goalkeeper David Crawford.
Brechin were struck a cruel blow when Gary Fusco had to be stretchered off following a sickening clash of heads with Ayr full-back Chris Smith.
Fusco immediately hit the ground and when he attempted to get up again appeared to pass out. However, the player was certainly conscious when he left the field on a stretcher to be replaced by Jamie Redman.
Smith went off to be bandaged with blood streaming from a cut head, but was able to continue.
The game’s first booking came in the 31st minute, Eddie Malone having his name taken for a high challenge on Craig Molloy.
Paul Mclean burst through from the right back berth and hit a crisp drive from 25 yards, but he too couldn’t find the target.
Michael Moffat, who learnt his trade at Girvan Juniors, gave the Brechin back four a difficult afternoon and he should have opened the scoring after Alan Trouten laid the ball off to him inside the box.
Had City seen the game through to half-time without the loss of a goal they may have came out with fresh impetus.
However, their flat first half performance was finally penalised on the half-time whistle.
Scott McLaughlin was allowed to get in a cross from the right and Stauart Bannigan was allowed acres of space at the far post to fire the home side in front.
The second half saw Rory McAllister kick things off for City with a 25 yard drive, which was comfortably held by the goalkeeper. Seven minutes into the game, Danny McKay was replaced by David McKenna.
McKenna won City a free-kick on the left flank after being hauled down by veteran Jim Lauchlan. Crawford punched Kevin Byers’ free-kick to safety.
A rasping 25 yard effort from Moffat on the turn then had Craig Nelson scrambling across the visitors’ goal.
Disaster struck for City in the 63rd minute and it was a classic counter attacking move which proved their undoing. Brechin conceded possession further up the field and Moffat made a great run down the left hand channel before picking out Scott McLaughlin who headed past the exposed Craig Nelson.
Jim Weir’s response was the introduction of Jordan Kirkpatrick.
Moffat should have made it three-nil after Trouten found him on the right hand side of the City box.
Lauchlan once again conceded a foul, but once again escaped the ref’s notebook. On this occasion in a good position for City 25 yards out. McAllister managed to get the all around the defensive wall, but only into the hands of the home goalkeeper.
Only in the closing ten minutes did city look like getting on the score sheet.
Following a double substitution for the home side that saw Roberts and Willis replaced by Rodgers and Tiffoney, Brechin, mainly through the efforts of Kirkpatrick on the left flank started to have a go.
The winger did well to leave Lauchlan for dead and then side-stepped Campbell, but his well-struck drive just flew the wrong side of the upright.
With three minutes left the winger repeated his skilful attempt, again skipping past a couple of defenders, before shooting wide of the target from 20 yards out.
The on-loan Hamilton winger then showed good awareness to pick out Rory McAllister inside the box. The striker managed to evade the clutches of Campbell and fire in a drive which beat Crawford, but rebounded back off the underside of the crossbar.
City’s day was summed up when Craig Molloy’s volley from inside of the box bounced wide of Crawford’s far post.
City were simply flat and never got going. Whether the commencement of midweek fixtures is starting to catch up with Brechin remains to be seen.
Quite simply, Ayr just looked like they wanted to win more in too many areas of the field. Best for City was Ewan Moyes, who was a shining example of commitment and desire in the back four.
Ayr United - Crawford, Lauchlan, Smith, Malone, Campbell, Trouten, Willis (Rodgers), McLaughlin, Bannigan, Roberts (Tiffoney) and Moffat.
Brechin City - Nelson, McLean, Cook, McLauchlan, Moyes, Janczyk (Kirkpatrick), Fusco (Redman), Molloy, McKay (McKenna), Byers and McAllister.