BRECHIN City will be playing second division football again next season - having been edged out by Ayr United in the promotion play-off final over two legs (writes Alan Ducat).
City had done the hard bit, digging deep to carve out a one-each draw at Somerset Park last Wednesday to set themselves up for a bumper pay-day at Glebe Park on Sunday afternoon (see match report on page 31).
And, when they grabbed the lead courtesy of a bizarre own goal just before the break, a place in the Scottish first division alongside the likes of Dundee, Hamilton Accies, Partick Thistle and Raith Rovers looked on.
But the Honest Men are no slouches, and they put the reds under a lot of pressure in the second period, eventually grabbing a deserved leveller before going on to claim victory with a late, late winner.
Brechin manager Jim Weir described the 88th minute strike by Michael Moffat as a real heart-breaker.
Speaking as the Ayr players partied on the Glebe Park turf, Jim said: “It was heartbreaking to lose it so late on.
“There was not much between the teams, although they were the better team in the first game.
“We dug in during the first game after going a goal behind.
“Today (Sunday) we got a break with the first goal, but their winner was a great finish by Moffat who showed how valuable a player he has been for them this season.
“Ayr are promoted and I wish them well.
“Craig Nelson was outstanding for us again. We rode our luck a bit at times and I am disappointed with some of the chances they had as I feel they were self-inflicted on our part.
“My players can be proud of themselves for what they have achieved this season.
“Every one of them played their part and we must now go away and try to come back stronger next year.”
In the cold light of day, losing out so late in the two-legged final, although disappointing for all those who were supporting City in the bumper 2404 crowd at the Glebe on Sunday, is anything but a disaster.
Brechin had performed exceptionally well to overcome a dip in form that almost cost them their place in the promotion play-offs.
And, the players raised their game in the semi-final against Cowdenbeath to take their challenge to the wire.
They will, no doubt, be big players in the Scottish second division again next season - and there’s the added bonus in that there won’t be many mega-journeys for the fans on away days.
Indeed, Dumbarton will be the longest journey, while there will be plenty of derby action to look forward to in a division that also includes Forfar Athletic and Arbroath. Alsom in the same flight are Fife side Cowdenbeath and East Fife.