Reds clear historic Highland hurdle

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Buckie Thistle 0 Brechin City 2.

I have waited almost 18 years to write these lines. Brechin City are in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals.

A competition that starts with over 100 teams is now down to the last eight and Brechin City are amongst Scottish football’s supposed elite.

There are certain moments in your career when you work as a journalist that make you very proud of your own community. One of these was the fight to have a new primary school built at Andover, another was the fight to save services at Stracathro Hospital.

It may only be football, but believe me, this moment was up there with the best of them.

Almost 400 Brechin City fans were in the crowd of 2218 at Victoria Park, Buckie, and what they witnessed was a highly accomplished performance from their side that never really had the result in doubt at any stage of the game.

The surface was quite heavy, but easily playable and Brechin’s sizable travelling support was also afforded the sort of Highland welcome by the locals that many supposedly bigger sides could learn a lot from.

City boss Jim Weir made two changes, with Andrew Cook and Jamie Redman on the bench. Into the line up came Kevin Byers and Gary Fusco.

It was a shrewd tactical move, especially with Fusco’s competitive approach, which paid off against the Highland League Champions.

Brechin started very positively and McAllister escaped the clutches of Michael Morrison in the seventh minute, but fired narrowly wide of the target.

However, Brechin continued to probe and Janczyk and Molloy were, once again, in control of the centre of midfield, ably supported by Byers and Fusco on the flanks.

City got the opener in stunning fashion in the 18th minute. David McKenna cut in from the right flank and lined the ball up with his left foot, before curling a tremendous18-yard drive beyond goalkeeper Kevin Main’s reach.

Brechin continued to force the play and the solidity provided by the back four meant they threw bodies forward with an air of confidence.

If the first goal had been sublime, the second was a candidate for “goal of the season”. Rory McAllister received Kevin Byers’ pass from the right flank, turned his marker inside out and then side-stepped another defender to curl a 25-yard screamer into Main’s top left-hand corner.

Buckie were really struggling to get any sustained possession, but winger ‘Zander’ Sutherland found a space just inside the City box, but fired well wide of the target.

The second period saw Buckie come out fighting, but, in all honesty and without being disrespectful, Brechin’s two centre-backs Gerry McLaughlan and Ewan Moyes would have been forgiven for partaking in the Hamlet cigars, such was the ease of their afternoon thus far.

Craig Nelson’s solitary save of the game came nine minutes after the restart.

The once again exceptional McLaughlan got stuck under a cross to the far post and Craig Nelson was forced to pull off a tremendous save to deny Michael Morrison, who struck a great effort from close range which was beaten away by the goalkeeper.

Big McAllister was having a field day in the wide open spaces of Victoria Park and good work from left-back Dougie Hill found him inside the box. On this occasion the City centre looped a header narrowly over the bar.

Normal service was resumed and gaps started to appear for City as Buckie tried to find a way back into the game.

A great through ball up the left channel from Fusco found McAllister who cut inside his man and curled another great effort beyond the outstretched arms of the goalkeeper, only to be denied by the top of Kevin Main’s far post.

Brechin continued to press for a killer third goal and Ewan Moyes was unlucky when the goalkeeper’s desperate lunge saw him collect Moyes’ header under his crossbar, following Kevin Byers’ corner.

In the 70th minute, the tireless Craig Molloy, whose work-rate is astounding, looked to have won his side a penalty. Having beaten Sutherland just inside the box and about to shoot for goal, the winger appeared to bring the City man crashing to the floor. No penalty said Mr Steven McLean, who, despite not giving enough protection to McAllister throughout the 90 minutes, had an otherwise decent game.

Gerry McLaughlan was the unfortunate recipient of a yellow card with quarter of an hour left. The defender had intervened when Buckie defender Michael Morrison was involved with a spat with one of his team-mates. Morrison also entered the referee’s note book.

City introduced Mark Archdeacon with six minutes remaining, McAllister left the field to a standing ovation from the travelling fans.

On the full-time whistle, strike partner David McKenna was afforded a similar accolade as the travelling supporters recognised the great deal of effort the wee striker had put in.

A few minutes later, the final whistle blew and the rest of the City side received the third ovation of the afternoon.

The big travelling support had been repaid in the best way possible. The rest as they say, is history.

Buckie Thistle - Main, Munro, Duncan, (Angus), Small, Morrison, Brown, (Napier), Sutherland, MacRae, Charlesworth, (Bruce), Low and Davidson.

Brechin City - Nelson, McLean, Hill, McLaughlan, Moyes, Janczyk, Byers, Molloy, McAllister, (Archdeacon), McKenna, (Redman) and Fusco.