BRECHIN City full-back Paul McLean is unlikely to score a better goal than the one that netted his side a precious point a New Broomfield against Airdrie United on Saturday.
The Brechin defender likes to get forward and the delight and relief on the faces of his team-mates summed up their frustration, especially during the second half of this spell.
City had the better of the first 45 minutes and should have come in at the interval a couple of goals to the good, in what were very testing conditions.
However, the home side upped their game in the second half and City, at this point, looked devoid of ideas and creativity to get themselves back in the match - until that moment three minutes from the whistle, when McLean’s offering for “Goal of the Season” was registered.
Jim Weir kept faith with the same side that had won at Queen of the South, meaning that loan signing Dougie Hill still had to make do with a place on the subs bench.
City started positively and Rory McAllister escaped the clutches of left-back Graeme Goodall and delivered an inviting cross to the near post, which was hooked clear in desperate fashion by Euan Grant.
At the other end Janczyk’s loose ball was picked up by Scott Gemmell, but Eua Moyes intervened to see the ball to safety.
City went close in the ninth minute. David McKenna spotted goalkeeper Mark Ridgers off his line and attempted an audacious lob, but the goalkeeper got back to make a save.
Brechin were on top in the early exchanges and Ridgers twice had two save from Rory McAllister, once again the goalkeeper coming to his side’s rescue.
Back came Airdrie again and City were left feeling aggrieved when referee Brian Colvin awarded Scott Gemmell a free-kick for a challenge by Ewan Moyes. The Brechin wall did its job, however, and Rhys Devlin’s effort was deflected for a corner.
Brechin upped their game again and forced a couple of corners. From the second of these a melee ensued which saw Kevin Byers tried to weave his way through the heart of the home defence, only to be badgered off the ball.
City broke on Airdrie and again went close after 31 minutes. McAllister held the ball up on the right flank before cutting inside his marker and picking out striking partner Davie McKenna, but Ridgers once again held his low drive.
McAllister was next to go close when he got away from Forrest to get on a Docherty through ball. However, the City hot-shot was unfortunate to see his effort deflected for another corner.
In the 39th minute Kevin Byers picked out Rory McAllister and he struck a crisp drive just wide of the upright.
Airdrie’s goal was coming under increased pressure as the half wore on and good awareness and hard work from Molloy saw him find Docherty, but the former Saint had his attempt on goal charged down.
City continued to press for the opener and McAllister tried to go round Forrest only to be brought crashing down. The defender was booked.
The free-kick saw Janczyk ‘dummy’ Byers’ free-kick, but McAllister fired it wide.
McAllister was then the victim of a nasty looking challenge from Eddie Forrest. The striker went down holding his head, and had to go off to receive treatment. Forrest was fortunate to stay on the pitch. And the travelling support were also aggrieved at the length of time Referee Colvin took to allow McAllister to return to the field. So much so the big striker never returned from the side of the pitch until after the interval.
Brechin had been well on top in the first half. However, the artificial surface was slippery in certain spots and a slip-up by Andrew Cook allowed Phil Johnston the chance to bear down on the City goal and give Craig Nelson his firat real test of the afternoon.
Airdrie boss Jimmy Boyle clearly wasn’t happy with his side’s goal threat in the first half and he introduced striker Andy Ferguson for Johnston on the resumption of play.
The change paid almost immediate dividends for the Diamonds, although Davie White looked to have been dealt a harsh yellow card for a challenge on Gemmell that saw the striker hit the floor like he had been shot.
Eddie Forrest delivered a cross from the left and Andy Ferguson was on hand to sweep the ball home via his groin.
City were behind for all of two minutes. Once again McAllister tried to get away from his marker and Goodall brought him crashing down a few ayrds outside the box.
Skipper Neil Janczyk was the only man over the free-kick some 25 yards out, but he made a splendid effort, curling the ball away out of the reach of Ally Ridgers to get City back into the match.
City failed to learn from the loss of the first goal and the second was a poor one from a defensive point of view.
Airdrie’s new signing from Liverpool, Gary Mackay Steven, sent a corner to the far post, where Eddie Forrest rose unchallenged to head the ball home. Fifty-four minutes gone and Brechin left wondering if it was going to be their day.
Brechin came back with Byers again progressing into the box, but his left-foot drive could only find the side-netting.
It was the Brechin midfield man’s last involvement as he and Mark Docherty were replaced by Gary Fusco and Jamie Redman.
Brechin continued to toil but whether there were a number of tiring limbs from the midweek exploits or City simply lacked their usual sparkle, who knows?
Jim Weir made his intentions clear with 20 minutes remaining. He replaced Janczyk, arguably City’s best player on the day, with Mark Archdeacon and changed to a 4-3-3 formation.
City had a chance when Redman swung in a corner which McAllister managed to get his head to, but he couldn’t divert the ball goalwards.
Ewan Moyes showed great awareness at the other end as a long through ball eluded Davie White, but his defensive pivot partner produced a great tackle inside the box, to stop Gemmeil in his tracks.
Then it was Jamie Bain’s turn to save Airdrie when he diverted Gary Fusco’s drive for a corner from an acute angle, after the substitute had burst into the penalty area.
Ryan McCord, who is on loan at Airdrie from Dundee United, had a pop from 25 yards out, but the impressive player didn’t stretch Craig Nelson.
Brechin looked like the had run out of steam and ideas at this stage.
However, with just three minutes remaining on the clock, a ball into the box was cleared only as far as Paul McLean and the full-back advanced to around 25 yards from goal and unleashed a tremendous thunderbolt of a drive, which flew into Ridgers’ top left-hand corner, giving the goalkeeper no chance and more importantly giving Brechin a point.
City seemed to be a bit jaded in the second period, having done enough to suggest in the first that they were on the right path for the three points. Best for City were McLean and Janczyk.
Airdrie United - Ridgers, Bain, Goodall, Grant, Forrest, Devlin, Johnston (Ferguson), Stevenson, Gemmill, McCord and Mackay-Steven (Muir).
Brechin City - Nelson, McLean, Cook, White, Moyes, Janczyk (Archdeacon), Byers (Redma), Molloy, McAllister, McKenna and Docherty (Fusco).
Referee - B. Colvin; Attendance - 806.