Derby stalemate

Birthday boy Mick Dunlop challenges in the air with Chris Templeman and Charlie King to win the ball. (Picture by Derek Watt, Brechin).
Birthday boy Mick Dunlop challenges in the air with Chris Templeman and Charlie King to win the ball. (Picture by Derek Watt, Brechin).

Forfar 0, Brechin 0

IT may have been November 5 but the City fans who made the short trip through to Forfar expecting derby fireworks on Saturday were left extremely disappointed (writes Alan Ducat).

Jim Lister beats the keeper to the ball but his header is cleared off the line. (Picture by Derek Watt, Brechin).

Jim Lister beats the keeper to the ball but his header is cleared off the line. (Picture by Derek Watt, Brechin).

Overall, the match was a bit of a damp squib, with both teams carving out but one decent chance apiece in the first period, and each creating one less than that in the second period.

In the end, a share of the spoils was perhaps about right on a day when both elevens failed to spark.

Forfar, as they so often do, pinned the visitors back in the opening exchanges, without ever looking like threatening the Brechin City goal.

The reds were defending in numbers, and rarely allowed a Forfar forward the opportunity to see the whites of Nelson’s eyes.

Indeed, the visitors back four looked in great form, with Scott Buist and Paul McLean particularly impressive.

When Brechin did get going, they found a bit of space down the right flank, but there was no end product on two occasions Jim Lister was able to send in a cross.

Forfar’s danger man was left winger Nicky Lowe, but, when he did manage to skin Paul McLean, the cross was easy for the keeper to collect.

There was a bit of an opening for Brechin in 20 minutes when Greg Patterson failed to hold a dangerous cross from Paul McLean out on the right, but home defenders were there to mop up the danger.

The game threatened to burst into life around the 26 minute mark when first Brechin blew a golden opportunity and then Forfar carved out a good opening.

On the first occasion, the visitors broke quickly to allow Paul McManus to clip the ball over Joe Shaughnessy and run clean through with just the keeper to beat.

The striker seemed certain to break the deadlock, but Greg Patterson was the Loons hero, standing tall to block the McManus shot and then smother the loose ball.

Forfar raced to the other end, and Martyn Fotheringham’s cross had the City defence in trouble, Ross Campbell heading goalwards, only for Craig Nelson to come to the Reds’ rescue with a great block with his feet.

If the fans thought the scene had been set for thrills and spills there were to be out of luck.

No sooner had the chances been passed up than both sides appeared to go back into their shell - and that was about it was far as goalmouth action was concerned.

The second half became a bit of a yawn, with both teams trying to play football only to find the build-up play coming to absolutely nothing.

In the end, players from both sides were restricted to long-range efforts, Templeman seeing his effort deflected for a corner and McManus his grounder well gathered by the keeper.

The closing 15 minutes or so were pretty dire, with a raft of substitutions failing to add spark to the match.

Brechin tried to finish with a flourish, and there was a chance when Craig Molloy was fouled 30 yards out, as the game went into injury time.

But, Molloy wasn’t to be part of it, having been injured in the tackle and unable to continue, his place being taken by Brady for the final few seconds.

It took the ref about three minutes to get the game restarted and the free-kick came to nothing.

The final opportunity, if you could call it that, fell to Gary Fusco of City, who reached for a ball in the area but directed it well wide of target.

Had it gone in it would have evened things up between the sides for the season but, in truth, neither side really merited even a point from a pretty dour afternoon of second division football.

Forfar Athletic - Paterson, Hegarty, Iain Campbell, Bishop, Shaughnessy, Byers (Wilson), Fotheringham, Ross, Low (Motion), Templeman and Ross Campbell (Gibson).

Brechin City - Nelson, McLean, Smith, Buist, Dunlop, Janczyk, Molloy (Brady), Fusco, King (McClune), McManus (Weir) amd Lister.

Referee - John McKendrick; crowd – 661.

Although not too unhappy with the end result, Brechin boss Jim Weir felt his players were a little slow to settle.

“Under normal circumstances I would not be too unhappy coming away from a derby with a point, but we were slow out of the traps and that could have cost us.

“The positives for me are that we defended really well. We are looking better defensively and that should give us confidence.

“I would have put my hat on Paul McManus scoring when he was clean through, but the goalkeeper made a good save at a crucial time.”

The manager went on to say that, overall, the fare was disappointing for both sets of fans.

“We are meant to be an entertainment sport but that was not entertainment, and we have got to look to improve on that.”

The result takes Brechin City up to fifth spot in what is an extremely tight league. They are currently 12 points off the pace but when they look downwards they are only two points off bottom spot, so will want to keep the momentum going this coming Saturday, when they entertain Albion Rovers.

It is quite an important spell for the reds, for the following Saturday (November 19) they entertain Dumbarton in the third round of the Scottish Cup, and they find themselves at home for a third week running on November 26 when East Fife are visitors.

Indeed, it is not until December 3 that City are away again - to Arbroath!