Brechin City 2 v 4 Ayr United
Trouten 48′ McLaughlin 53′ (pen), 86′ (pen)
Masson 59′ Beattie 73′, 90′+3
Glebe Park was a beautiful setting for an afternoon of football with the sun shining, blue skies and a lush and immaculate playing surface providing the conditions for what would be an entertaining and exciting match. With Brechin City buoyed by an emphatic 5 – 0 against Stirling Albion (maintaining their unbeaten run) and Ayr United licking their wounds after defeat at the hands of Stranraer, all was set up for a game in which pride was at stake.
From the start both sides showed their intent to attack and within one minute Brian Gilmour had struck the ball from 20 yards out but the drive ended up narrowly over the bar. Not to be undone, Brechin pushed forward and in four minutes Andy Jackson pounced on a loose ball, as the unfortunate Kevin McKinlay slipped on the greasy surface, and then sprinted goalwards before crashing a shot inches over.
In the seventh minute Alan Forrest picked up the ball on the right hand side and made a darting run into the Brechin penalty area only to be stopped by a strong and accurate last-ditch tackle. Unfortunately for the Ayr winger he landed awkwardly, injuring his shoulder. As he hadn’t recovered, six minutes later he was replaced by last week’s trialist Paul Slane.
Brechin created a number of good chances with former Ayr midfielder Alan Trouten causing difficulty for the United defence. On two occasions he drove straight into the box his first attempt going straight into the arms of a keeper Hutton whilst the second narrowly sliding past the post.
The last 20 minutes or so of the first half developed a little bit of niggle with a number of crunching tackles, unnecessary fouls and some off the ball incidents which the referee failed to pick up. Brechin’s Craig Molloy and Ayr’s Paul Slane were both lucky not to receive the referee’s attention in what appeared to be their own personal macho contest that was to continue for the rest of the game.
Although Ayr seemed to have most of the possession it was Brechin who created the majority of chances as the half moved towards its end. Bobby Barr twice went close as quick passing interplay created space and allowed him to break into the box, firstly dragging the ball past the post and secondly finding Hutton equal to his flashing shot. In the 43rd minute Scott McLaughlin’s pass was short of its mark and Andy Jackson pounced on the ball, taking the opportunity to hammer it towards goal, leaving Hutton watching helplessly as it squeezed narrowly wide.
As the whistle went for the end of the first half there was a feeling that Brechin city were on the ascendancy and that Ayr would need to be stronger in defence and much more purposeful in the second half if they were going to come away with three points.
The second half started as the first had left off, with Brechin pressing hard for an opening goal. Within one minute they went close. Breaking with speed, the ball was delivered to the feet of Andy Jackson in the penalty area and with only Hutton to beat. The odds were on Jackson but somehow he contrived to blast his shot well wide of the keeper and past the post. Ayr should have heeded the warning as Brechin’s opener was only delayed for a short while.
In the 48th minute Jackson found himself played onside well inside the Ayr United penalty area. As the Ayr back line rushed back to defend, Jackson made his way to the goal line and then slid an inch perfect pass to the on-rushing Trouten who side footed the ball into the net from 5 yards.
Before the restart Kevin McKinlay, who had played Jackson onside, was substituted and it transpired that he had difficulty moving after receiving a dead leg right at the end of the first half. Mark Roberts shuffled things around a bit with Mikey Donald filling in at the left back position with Dale Shirkie entering the play in a left side, forward position.
Ayr immediately went on the attack and when Martyn Campbell knocked the ball towards the Brechin net right back McCormack blocked the ball with his hand. Referee Gavin Duncan showed no hesitation and pointed to the spot for a penalty to Ayr United. Brechin players immediately surrounded the referee and in the confusion Duncan was unable to identify the player who had handled. He asked for the opinion of both his assistants but they also failed to spot the culprit. The referee decided to cut his losses and ask for the penalty to be taken. Brechin midfielder Greg Cameron did find his name in the book for repeatedly harassing the referee and, when given a final warning to walk away, again said something and found himself cautioned. This impetuosity would come back to haunt Greg and the Brechin team.
Unperturbed by this three minute hiatus, on 50 minutes captain Scott McLaughlin smashed the ball past Graeme Smith and into the net for United’s equaliser.
If the first half was entertaining the second half had burst into life and exploded to a higher level. Brechin attempted to respond immediately, again pressing towards the United goal. In the 15th minute Campbell slipped and Jackson picked up the ball, cut round the Ayr United defence and, in an almost duplicate version of Brechin’s opening goal, placed the ball at the feet of Trouten but this time his shot was spectacularly saved by Hutton. Again this was only a temporary delay for Brechin’s intent.
On 59 minutes the talented young midfielder Jamie Masson collected the ball on the right, in line with the edge of the United penalty area. Out turning two players he ran parallel to the edge of the box, found himself unchallenged, and with time to change back onto his right foot. Seeing his chance he hit the ball powerfully into the top right-hand corner. This was, without doubt, a spectacular effort from the youngster.
With 62 minutes gone, Brechin leading 2 -1 and with their players appearing confident that they could move on to victory, came the moment that turned the match on its head. Greg Cameron, booked earlier for dissent, lunged in on Dale Shirkie, rolling over the top of the ball and into his shins. Receiving his second yellow card Cameron made the long walk back to the changing rooms and to severe words from his manager Ray McKinnon. Shirkie, to his credit, did not make a meal of the challenge, pausing only to check that his legs were still attached and then returning to action.
Ayr started to pile on the pressure. A Donnelly header from 8 yards out resulted a good save from Smith. Shirkie followed this by shooting just over, and shortly after Smith again came to Brechin’s rescue diving at Donnelly’s feet as he darted into the box.
In the 64th minute Martyn Campbell was replaced by Craig Beattie as Ayr showed their attacking intent. Paul Slane and Jon Paul McGovern were becoming more and more influential, with McGovern spraying passes and creating space and attacking opportunities. Slane began running the ball from deep, both in wide positions and cutting inside, flying past players and linking well with the other forwards.
It looked certain that Ayr would get their just reward for this attacking play and it arrived in the 73rd minute. Following a corner, the ball was flicked from head-to-head and finally reached Craig Beattie near the back post and his header lobbed slowly into the net past the despairing hands of keeper Smith.
With Ayr’s dominance increasing it may have been expected that Brechin would go for a more defensive strategy but this did not happen. Following the replacement of Bobby Barr and Alan Trouten by Robert Thomson and Ryan Ferguson, Brechin maintained a three-man attacking force and continue to attempt to win the match.
This had become a pulsating encounter with end-to-end action but with the extra man giving Ayr a massive and clear advantage. But it wouldn’t be from open play that United took the lead.
In the 87th minute, after a period of sustained Ayr United pressure, the impressive Dale Shirkie found himself inside the box, and as he looked for support, he spotted an opportunity and blasted the ball towards the net. The one remaining defender, McCormack, blocked the attempt with two raised arms, giving the referee no other opportunity but to award another penalty and produce a yellow card. Scott McLaughlin stepped forward, and for the second time in the match, slammed the ball past Smith. Ayr were in front.
The icing on the cake for Ayr came in the third minute of added time as Craig Beattie showed all of his skill and experience to chalk up his second and Ayr’s fourth goal of the match. With the goals behind him, and a defender tight in on his back, Beattie received the ball just inside the penalty area. He flicked the ball to his left and rolled round his marker, who was left treading water, and having created acres of space Beattie blasted the ball into the Brechin net.
And so the game ended Brechin City 2 v 4 Ayr United and as the fans celebrated another three points the long journey home didn’t feel so bad.
7 Trouten (Ferguson – 79′)
10 Barr (Thomson – 75′)
3 McKinlay (Shirkie – 50′)
5 Campbell (Beattie – 64′)
7 Forrest (Slane – 13′)
Referee: Gavin Duncan
Match Report AUmedia