Stenhousemuir 1, Brechin City 3
BRECHIN City came up with the goods when it was most needed on Saturday.
While this was by no means a classic, the all important factor was collecting three points at Stenhousemuir and, for the large part of the game, City were comfortably in command of this match.
The welcome news for Brechin fans, still anticipating a play off place that weeks ago looked a formality, was the return of Gerry McLauchlan, Ewan Moyes and the Gary McAllister.
However, City were denied the services of Craig Nelson with a hand injury and David Scott stepped into the breach.
Brechin enjoyed something of a dream start to the game.
Craig Molloy, the former Stenhousemuir midfield man, burst through from the centre of the field in traditional manner and was brought crashing down by ex-City goalkeeper, Chris McCluskey.
How the goalkeeper remained on the pitch only referee Kevin Clancy knew.
However, Rory McAllister stepped up to give his side the lead and something to build on.
Davie Scott was called into action for the first time to deal with an effort from Eric Paton.
This was arguably Stenny’s best period of the game and Scott Dalziel threatened a couple of times, before being penalised for a challenge on Roy McBain.
Stenhousemuir were level in controversial circumstances in the 25th minute.
Steve Murray delivered a corner and on-loan Michael Devlin got his head to the ball to direct it goalwards,
Neil Janczyk scooped the ball away from the goal-line with his left-hand. Amazingly however, the far side assistant Alex Newlands awarded a goal.
It was perhaps something of a relief to Brechin, despite having lost a goal.
In the 27th minute Dalziel was in the thick of things again, his elbows connecting with Ewan Moyes’ temple once too often for the match official’s pleasure.
Brechin continued to probe away and McAllister was unfortunate with a well struck effort following a corner, that beat McCluskey, but skimmed the top of the net.
A minute from half-time Brechin were back in front and the spade work was done by Mitchel Megginson.
He set up Rory McAllister, who expertly tucked away his and his side’s second goal of the game.
Given the amount that was at stake for both sides the game had a distinctly tepid feel to it.
However, that only increased in the second period, as Stenhousemuir had plenty possession, but all too often resorted to a high ball into the box for Dalziel.
Brechin kept their shape and continued to look comfortable.
In the 54th minute Janczyk had a free-kick opportunity, but City couldn’t take advantage.
Stenhousemuir got a decent cross in from the right hand side from the boot of Lyle, but David Scott came off his line to collect comfortably and was then given assistance by Ewan Moyes as he dealt with another inswinging cross from the right flank.
The closest Stenhousemuir came to getting back on level terms was from a Simon Lynch header three minutes from time, once again from a cross from the diminutive Murray, but the ball sailed past the upright.
City then lost McLauchlan with a facial wound and Davie White replaced him.
Rory McAllister had a shot pushed away by McCluskey.
However, three minutes into injury time, Brechin were home and dry. Molloy once again found the energy to burst into the box and run straight at McCluskey.
On this occasion the referee had no other option than to send him off.
Substitute goalkeeper Michael Brown’s first job was to pick the ball out of the net following Rory McAllister’s resultant penalty.
Three goals, more importantly three points and the play-off ambitions kept alive for another week at least.
Craig Molloy was once again immense in the heart of the City midfield.
And it’s a few years since I have lost count of the number of hat-tricks scored by a Brechin centre forward.
Stenhousemuir - McCluskey, (Brown), Lyle, Thom, Devlin, Dickson, Anderson (Quinn), Gilmour (Hunter), Paton, Murray, Lynch and Dalziel.
Brechin City: Scott, Cook, McLauchlan (White), Moyes, McBain, Fusco, Molloy, Janczyk, Redman, McAllister and Megginson (Kirkpatrick).
Referee - Kevin Clancy; crowd - 672.