BRECHIN City found free-scoring Albion Rovers too hot to handle at the Glebe on a sunny autumn Saturday afternoon (writes Alan Ducat).
The reds failed to recover from going two gaols behind after only 21 minutes and, while they had the better of the possession for a period before and after the interval, a defensive blunder allowed the visitors to make it three in 66 minutes.
There was no way back for Jim Weir’s side thereafter, and, while they succeeded in finding a way past Gaston in the Rovers goal, it was Rovers who finished on a high with a fourth goal right on the final whistle.
There was little between the sides in the opening exchanges, with City seeing shots by Fusco and Hodge blocked.
But, in 17 minutes the home side found themselves a goal down.
A Stevenson corner from the left saw the ball skim the head of Dunlop and land perfectly for Michael O’Byrne to volley home from close range.
Worse was to follow four minutes later when a Neil Jancyzk cleared only as far as the lurking Michael O’Byrne, who fairly fizzed in a 30-yard shot which deflected off a Brechin defender and nestled in the top right-hand corner of the net.
Brechin were left with it all to do at this stage, and, while a Charlie King shot was easy meat for Gaston in the Albion goal, it was Rovers who looked more like adding to their lead.
John Gemmell wasn’t far off target with a pile-driver as the away side continued to turn the screw.
Brechin had their moments though, and it took a fine block by the keeper to deny Crawford after good work by McManus, then Buist met a King free-kick only for his header to be blocked, the ball breaking to Dunlop, who wasn’t able to get his shot on target.
Right on the break the lively Lawless stung the hands of Nelson with a fierce drive.
Brechin had the better of the early second half exchanges, and a Scott Smith pile-driver was tipped on to the bar by Gaston, while Hodge fired wide in the next home raid.
By the hour mark, Brechin had used all their subs in a bid to get back into the game, but a dreadful mix-up led to a third killer goal for Albion in 65 minutes.
Nelson tried to find Buist with what should have been a straight-forward pass, but the lurking Lawless nipped the ball off the defender’s toes and cross for Gemmell to set up Robert Love for goal number three.
City never gave up the ghost despite the hopelessness of the situation, and a brilliant double save by Gaston denied them a consolation goal, the keeper firstly blocking a Lister shot and then finger-tipping a point-blank Fusco headed effort over the bar.
A life-line eventually came in the 81st minute when Jim Lister brilliantly headed a David McKenna high past the goalkeeper into the corner of the net.
But a consolation goal was all that it was going to be, for, right on time, Albion Rovers capped a great away day with a fourth goal from the penalty spot.
Fusco was judged to have handled in the box following a free-kick 35 yards out, and up stepped Scott Chaplain to convert the spot-kick.
Brechin will have to dust themselves down and prepare to bounce back when Dumbarton visit the Glebe this Saturday, for a Scottish Cup third round tie.
Brechin City - Nelson, McLean, Buist, Dunlop, Smith, Molloy, Janczyk (Crawford), Fusco, Hodge, McManus (Lister) and King (McKenna).
Albion Rovers - Gaston, Reid, O’Byrne, Donnelly, Marriott, Love (Scott), Stevenson, McStay, Chaplain, Lawless and Gemmell.
Referee - George Salmond; crowd - 455.