Brechin City 1 V 1 Ayr United
Ayr stretched their unbeaten run to 12 games and maintain the position at the top of the league in this pulsating encounter at Glebe Park. On the face of it, this top of the league versus bottom may have suggested that United only had to turn up to gain three points but this was not to be. Brechin had been buoyed by victory in their previous week’s local derby against Forfar and the wet surface conditions somewhat hampered Ayr’s usual passing style of football.
Ayr opened strongly and as early as the 1st min saw their first chance with Jordan Preston volleying just over from 20 yards.
On 28 minutes United almost went ahead. Gerry McLauchlan hit a freekick from his own half to the edge of the Brechin penalty area. Combative midfielder Jamie Adams rose to knock the ball into the 6-yard box where onrushing Alan Trouten glanced a header goalwards only to see former Ayr keeper Graeme Smith pull off a superb save.
It was now Brechin’s chance to show what they could do. Isaacs Layne dispossessed defender Paddy Boyle before making his way into the United penalty box. Thwarted in his attempt to find a route to goal he played the ball back to Jonathan Tiffoney who raced to the by-line before placing the ball onto the foot of Darren McCormack on the penalty spot. With the goal at his mercy McCormack somehow managed to balloon the ball high and wide into the David H. Will stand.
Ayr were beginning to look more and more dangerous on the attack and again went close. After a patient build-up involving passes between seven United players captain Nicky Devlin lifted the ball into the box and defender Paul McLean, under no pressure, kneed the ball across the face of the goal to Alan Trouten. In much the same way as there was a mystery as to how McCormack had failed to hit the target, Trouten blasted the ball at almost right angles towards the corner flag. To the surprise of most onlookers, and possibly as an act of kindness to Trouten’s, the assistant linesman raised his flag for offside.
In 42 mins the Honest Men finally got the goal their play deserved. Again Ayr patiently built from the back before Ross Caldwell crossed from the right. Robbie Crawford ran in to meet the ball but it looked like a stretching header would be unlikely to have enough power to cause home goalkeeper Smith problems. Crawford decided not to attempt the direct header and cleverly dropped the ball to his right and Jamie Adams whose flick curled into the net. 1 – 0 Ayr.
If anything the half-time whistle came too early for the Ayrshire men who had been gaining impetus as the first half wore on and the start of the second half could not have gone worse.
Only one minute into the second half came that controversial corner as Brechin striker Andy Jackson tried to get a ball into the centre and the referee adjudged that it had come off Ayr’s Andy Graham before going out. Willie Dyer swung the ball towards the front post but Ross Docherty got his head to it first and knocked it out of the box. Unfortunately for Ayr Isaac Layne pounced on the ball and as a wall of Ayr players rushed out he hit the ball with the outside of his right foot curling it into the net. This was a goal of some quality and Brechin were level.
The goal seemed to re-invigorate Brechin and their confidence grew but without creating a great number of chances. The game again retreated into a midfield battle for the next twenty minutes with ‘tasty’ challenges from both sides. Then as the match went into its final third play became stretched resulting in some exciting end-to-end football.
In 67 mins a Devlin freekick found Docherty some 25 yards out from where he released a delightful left-footed drive off the top of the bar. 4 mins later Preston received a ball into the box from substitute Mikey Donald then spun quickly but his shot rose over the bar.
Brechin were still showing their hunger with Layne being at the heart of their best attacks, his tricky footwork and good distribution making him a thorn in Ayr’s side. Twice in a row he twisted and turned before darting into the United box. The first time he squared to McLean who lost his footing under pressure before Fleming grasped the ball. Secondly he bent the ball across the face of goal forcing Docherty to knock it out for a corner as McLean moved in for the kill.
From the resultant corner Brechin almost grabbed the three points. As the ball came in it was McLean again who met it and his downward header seems certain to go in at the right post. Keeper Greg Fleming somehow managed to get down and touch the ball away with what was a marvellous save.
Brechin attempted to increase the pressure and only one minute later had three chances to put the game to bed.
Jackson crossed from the right and found danger man Layne at the back of the box. Layne dragged the ball to his left foot but his shot was saved by Fleming but wasn’t cleared. Dyer then drove the ball in only to see it blocked by Devlin before it fell at the feet of Smith who should have done better but blazed over from the edge of the box.
In the 88th min another contentious decision gave Brechin a free kick just at the edge of the box. Jamie Adams and Brechin captain Craig Molloy both challenged hard for the ball and Adams appeared to make full contact knocking it towards the halfway line. Molloy went down heavily and the freekick was awarded. Layne didn’t have to be asked twice and stepped up but, luckily for Ayr, the ball went inches wide.
Certainly not the best performance of the season from United and the chance lost to go three points clear at the top, but the club remain at the top of the league and now have the benefit of two home matches in a row.
Smith, McLean, Dyer, Bates, Perry, Dods, Tiffoney, Molloy, Jackson, Layne, McCormack Substitutes Smith, Montgomery, Johnston, Dale, Weatherston, Fusco, O’Neil (GK).
Fleming, Devlin, Boyle, Docherty, McLauchlan, Graham, Adams, Crawford, Preston, Trouten, Caldwell Substitutes Forrest, Murphy, Donald, McCracken, Muir, Newman (GK)
Referee: Barry Cook