Brechin City 1 Livingston 0
BRECHIN City midfield player, Craig ‘Tiger’ Molloy, reckons last week’s win over league leaders Livingston keeps his side in with a fighting chance of winning the second division title.
And, if he’s proved right, the role played by the former St Mirren midfield player can’t be underestimated.
Arguably Brechin City’s player of the year and an individual who was linked with numerous SPL clubs during the transfer window, Molloy excelled on a testing Glebe Park surface in a game which, more than anything proved the reds’ resolve, determination and, when called upon, ability.
Craig also revealed he thought he had missed the opportunity of putting City in front and, in turn, cost them potentially two precious points.
“I thought I had blown my chance when I played a similar move with Rory McAllister inside the box, five or ten minutes before I scored,” he commented.
“I was just grateful to get another chance. Rory is a clever enough player to play a one-two with and on both occasions he gave me perfectly weighted passes.
“I should have buried the first one and I was just grateful to get another chance.
“The second one was probably the more difficult of the two, but you could probably see the relief when it went in.
“I thought it was no more than we deserved. We kept going and going in the second half and never let up.
“We put them under a considerable amount of pressure and the win was no more than our second half display merited.
“If Livingston had won, I could have seen them going on to win the title.
“Personally, I think this gives a wee chance. We are still eight points behind with two games in hand. It provides a bit of hope anyway and that’s the most important thing.
“Every game is a big game for us now, because we are basically playing half-a-season in a two-and-a-half month spell.
“Livingston are still favourites, but we are in there fighting and we will go on doing that.”
The game itself was once again turned on its head at half-time with a Jim Weir substitution.
On-loan Jordan Kirkpatrick had failed to make much of an impression on the heavy ground and Jamie Redman came on to play on the right side of midfield.
This transformed City’s approach and they were the more likely side from thereafter.
The closest Livvy had come in the first period was a Kyle Jacobs’ effort, which Craig Nelson did very well to gather.
City’s best opening of the first period came on the stroke of half-time.
Rory McAllister was hauled to the ground on the edge of the box, but blasted the resultant free-kick against the wall.
Redman’s impact was felt almost immediate. The midfield player danced away from two defenders and bore down into the box. His parting shot was blocked and, when the ball spun to Daniel McKay, he was unfortunate to find himself in an offside position.
Redman then put Rory McAllister away down the right flank, but the visitors’ goalkeeper, Tony Bullock, collected his low cross at the near post. The striker then had an effort deflected across the face of the Livingston goal, but sadly there wasn’t a home player in the region of the far post to take advantage.
David McKenna replaced the hard-working Danial McKay after 66 minutes.
City continued to force the issue and Bullock was forced into a save to hold Redman’s near-post effort.
Redman won Brechin a corner, the ball eventually broke to Gary Fusco on the edge of the penalty area. But the City midfielder drove past the post from 22 yards out.
McAllister then showed David Cowan a clean pair of heels, but narrowly failed to angle his low drive inside Bullock’s far post, the ball squeezing the wrong side of the upright from a City perspective.
Brechin thought they had won it with ten minutes left. Molloy picked the ball up 30 yards out and waltzed past three challenges on his way into the box. He then exchanged passes with McAllister, but with the goal at his mercy, drove past the post with Bullock well exposed.
The midfielder didn’t let the set-back hold him back and, with just three minutes left on the clock, he produced a move, which was almost a carbon copy of the earlier one.
Molloy jinked past a couple of Livingston defenders, played a lovely one-two with McAllister and, on this occasion, fired a clinical drive well beyond Bullock’s reach from 12 yards.
City’s back four of McLean, Cook, McLauchlan and Moyes hadn’t looked stretched in the second period and thankfully when they were breeched right at the death Craig Nelson was on hand to collect Jacobs’ well struck drive from 25 yards.
A thoroughly deserved victory for City on the back of an excellent second half display.
Molloy was man-of-the-match, with McAllister a close second. There were two bookings - Ewan Moyes of Brechin and Kyle Jacobs, who was fortunate only to be cautioned for a high challenge on Moyes himself early in the game.
Brechin City - McLean, McLauchlan, Moyes, Cook, Byers, Fusco, Molloy, Kirkpatrick (Redman), McAllister and McKay (McKenna).
Livingston - Bullock, Devon Jacobs, Craig Barr, Cowan, Malone, Kyle Jacobs, Fox, Hamill, Bobby Barr, Deuchar (Winters) and Russell (De Vita).
Jim Weir praised his players after the game and said their spirit and determination had been clearly apparent, especially in the second period.
“I was delighted with our second half display on a night when the conditions on the pitch made it difficult for both teams.
“We didn’t play particularly well in the first half. Obviously we made a couple of mistakes.
“However, above all I felt we just lacked a wee bit of self-belief, having already lost twice to them, and I told the players that at half-time.
“We asked the players, with the crowd behind them, to go and show what they could do playing down the hill.
“We made the change and, no disrespect to Jordan (Kirkpatrick), we felt we needed more strength down the right hand side of the field and Jamie (Redman) gave us that.
“The goal was terrific. Molloy has been an inspiration for me. He has been a fantastic signing and typifies everything I look for in a player. He kept driving us forward and got tackles in and in the end he got his reward with a terrific goal.
“We are going to have to get used to the pitch, because we have a lot of games coming up at home. We’re hopeful it will improve with time and a spell of drier weather. Earlier in the season the Glebe Park pitch was fantastic. This time of year seems to kill it, but it always comes good again towards the end of the season.
“Sometimes playing on these surfaces is about battling and getting the first goal. That was important. We ask our strikers to do a lot of work defensively and our defence has performed well for much of this season.
“We have got people who can score goals and in the last couple of games big Rory has been searching for a league goal. It will come, we have no fear about that.”