Brechin City 1, Cowdenbeath 0
Brechin City took three much-needed points at home to league-leaders Cowdenbeath on Saturday, with a Charlie King goal separating the sides in a one-nil victory (writes Steven Rae).
The win moves City from second-bottom to sixth in the league, and only a point behind fifth place Dumbarton.
The game began at a quick pace and, in the first minute, Brechin had crosses sent in from both Molloy and Fusco, but the Cowdenbeath defence managed to deal with the attacks.
Play then flew up to the other end of the pitch with Cowan of Cowdenbeath making a surging run up the right-hand side, but Scott Smith, who had a solid performance at left-back for the home side throughout, made a good tackle to stop him. Charlie King had a header dealt with well in the fourth minute, then covered well defensively two minutes later, clearing a cut-back following a Cowdenbeath attack.
City were having more possession in midfield and were defending well, both in the air and in the tackle. Lister, McManus and King were all working hard to try and create chances.
Cowdenbeath had the closest chance of the match up to that point when, in the 8th minute, Greig Stewart sent the ball in from the right, but Smith saw the ball out at the back post for Brechin for a goal-kick, with the Cowdenbeath fans protesting for a corner.
A missed tackle by Scott Buist almost let Linton in on goal but Paul McLean covered well in the 16th minute.
Cowdenbeath’s main source of attacking play was coming from their left hand side, and a combination between left back Adamson and left midfielder Morton allowed them to send in a dangerous cross 22 minutes in, but Brechin headed behind for a corner, which was subsequently cleared.
Craig Winter received a yellow card in the 25th minute for a foul and dissent, in what was the first bad foul of the game.
At this point, despite City’s better play and calm defending, they were failing to create any clear, goal-scoring chances, a problem which has plagued them all season.
Cowdenbeath’s number six, Joseph Mbu, was having a solid game at the back for the visitors.
After a couple of strikes from the home side, Nelson was brought into action for the first real chance when Linton shot for Cowdenbeath from the edge of the box but the keeper held the ball well.
After Armstrong and McKenzie both came close with volleys which went just over the bar during a good period of play from Cowdenbeath, Jon Robertson had the ball in the net for them in the 40th minute, in what seemed to be a characteristic sucker-punch before half-time for Brechin.
However, the goal was disallowed for a push in the box, much to the relief of City manager Jim Weir.
The sides went into the dressing room at half-time with Brechin having had more possession and better attacking play.
Both sides came out keen to start the second half as they had the first, and both had chances within the first five minutes, but neither came to anything.
In the 57th minute, Cowdenbeath played some good attacking play and forced a save from Nelson and then there was a good block from Buist from the rebound. The ball fell to Lister at the edge of the area and he turned and went on a surging counter-attack, which was eventually ended by Mbu with a solid challenge deep in the Cowdenbeath half.
A minute later City were in the lead. Good play on the left-hand side from Fusco then a neat back-heel played in Charlie King, who smoothly drove the ball into the far bottom-corner of the net to open the scoring.
Both sides had chances, and the game remained competitive, with each team having shots from the edge of the box fly just over the bar.
In the 66th minute McClune came on for Lister, who had had played well with a lot of effort put in.
McManus won a corner in the 68th minute with a good run, following good midfield play from Fusco and Molloy.
The resulting corner fell to Molloy at the edge of the box but his drive went wide of the left-hand post.
Graham Weir then came on for McManus in the 72nd minute, and looked impressive, linking up will with fellow substitute McClune a few minutes after coming on and winning a corner, which came to nothing in the end.
With ten minutes to go, Charlie King tried an audacious chip but his shot bounced onto the top of the net.
He was substituted with four minutes left to play, for David McKenna.
In the last five minutes the play became a bit hectic as Cowdenbeath scrambled for an equaliser and City strove to hold on.
Centre back Mbu was pushed up-front, presumably in an attempt to cause the home side problems due to his size and strength, but City held on for a well-earned victory, with Gary Fusco being named man-of-the-match.
Brechin City - Nelson, McLean, Smith, Buist, Dunlop, Janczyk, Molloy, Fusco, McManus (Weir), King (McKenna) and Lister (McClune).
Cowdenbeath - Flynn, Cowan, Armstrong, Mbu, Adamson (Ramsay), McKenzie, Winter (Coult), Robertson, Linton, Morton and Stewart.
Manager Jim Weir was clearly pleased to get the better of the league-leaders.
“I’m obviously delighted,” he commented. “we badly needed to get a win on the board.
Of King’s form and fitness, Weir added: “He’s knocked in a few goals for us recently and played 85 minutes on Saturday. He’s an important player for us and I’m hopeful that’s him back to full-fitness, especially with the other injuries we’ve had.”
When asked about Scott Smith who The Brechiner reporter thought had a particularly good game, Weir said: “I’m very pleased with all the back four. I thought Scott Smith played very well, Paul McLean played very well, as did the two centre-backs.
“We’re obviously pleased to finish with a clean sheet, also thanks to Nelson, who had two really good saves, one in the first half and one in the second to keep us in front.
“So I would say it was a team effort on Saturday and it would be very hard to single anybody out.”
Mentioning Cowdenbeath’s disallowed goal, Weir agreed with the referee’s decision, saying: “I thought it was a slight foul on the goalie, but maybe I’m biased.
“Sometimes you get the decisions, sometimes you don’t, so perhaps we got a wee bit of a break there.”
Discussing the up-coming derby with Forfar at Station Park on Saturday, Weir said: “Forfar’s obviously a difficult game.
“They’re coming away from a poor result against Albion Rovers, and I’m sure Dick Campbell will be doing everything he can to make sure that another poor result for them doesn’t happen.
“Derby games are always tough. We’ve not done particularly well in derby matches of late, and this time we hope to put that right.