BRECHIN’S bid to continue their climb up the Scottish second division came unstuck in cruel fashion on Saturday.
In a match that got underway early due to previous storm damage to the floodlights at New Strathclyde Stadium, City looked to be heading for a nil-nil draw until the Sons struck right at the death to claim all three points.
The visitors’ keeper pulled off a great save from the initial spot-kick, but, unfortunately for the reds, Dumbarton’s Bryan Prunty was on hand to net the rebound.
Despite the reverse, City shouldn’t be too despondent.
A run of three straight victories before Saturday’s trip to Dumbarton, has taken the club into the promotion play-off picture.
They now occupy fifth spot, on the same points tally of 24 as Airdrie United and only four points adrift of third place in the table - so there’s still much to play for in the coming weeks and months.
And, the next two matches are at the Glebe, this Saturday home to a Stenhousemuir team that lost out by the odd goal in five to Forfar Athletic at the weekend and then playing host to near neighbours and second placed Arbroath on Saturday, January 28.
Reflecting on Saturday’s one-nil reverse, goalkeeper Craig Nelson said: “It was sickening to lose to a late goal after a below par performance as we have been playing well recently.
“When a goalkeeper faces a penalty in the last minute all you can do is try to make the save but they have scored with the follow up.”
Manager Jim Weir added: “It was a needless foul to concede the penalty. It looked likely to be a draw but all credit to Dumbarton for being positive.”
In a match that got underway at 1.30 pm, Ally Graham had an early half-chance for Sons, while Paul McManus and David McKenna combined up front to threaten as both teams looked to press forward.
Mark Gilhaney looked dangerous on Brechin’s weaker left side, but the front line was not able to immediately capitalise on his darting runs.
Scott Agnew had two of opportunities to fire in on goal, but dallied too long and the chances were gone.
City made a substitution in the 28th minute, with Gerry McLaughlan being replaced by Ewan Moyes.
Sons new boy Ryan Finnie got a good cross in on the half hour, almost catching Craig Nelson by surprise, but the Brechin keeper made a good recovery to stick out a leg and block.
A few minutes later Dumbarton’s Bryan Prunty couldn’t quite connect with a cunning Gilhaney cross as the home side pushed Brechin back from the centre.
McManus was given far too much room at the other end and caught the Sons’ defence on the hop.
Thankfully goalie Stephen Grindlay made a fine interception as David Crawford latched onto the ball and looked set to open the scoring for Brechin.
Just before half-time Gilhaney also looked certain to score for Dumbarton but was stopped by a well-timed tackle as he closed in on Nelson’s goal. Following up, Prunty slammed the ball against the post.
After the break, a Mark Lamont effort went just past the woodwork.
Agnew chipped over in another Dumbarton attack. Then from his free kick, solid centre-half Alan Lithgow produced a commanding header that brought out a good save from Nelson.
Brechin had their chances too, as the game swung from one end to the other.
Garry Brady put in a fine cross. The ball was ably trapped by McKenna, but he fired his shot just over.
McManus fired an effort against the post for Brechin, before Sons’ Agnew came close with a strike from 25 yards and Ally Graham then hit the bar with a shot from just outside the area.
Pat Walker almost made an immediate impact for Dumbarton when he came on for Graham with just over twenty minutes remaining, wheeling and clipping a looping ball narrowly over.
Then just as an even game looked to be heading for a score-less draw, the home side struck.
Scott Agnew was pulled down by Bryan Hodge in the area. The resultant spot-kick was firmly parried by the Brechin ‘keeper, but Prunty pounced to drive the ball home.
Dumbarton - Grindlay, Finnie, Lithgow, McNiff, Creaney, Gilhaney, Nicoll, Agnew, Lamont (Borris), Prunty and Graham (Walker).
Brechin City - Nelson, McLean, McLaughlan (Moyes), Dunlop, McClune, Molloy, Brady, Hodge, Crawford (King), McManus and McKenna (Fusco).
Referee - Steve Conroy; crowd 572.