Stranraer 0, Brechin City 2
Shaun Niven at Stair Park
The last fixture of 2012 proved to be a bit of a damp squib for Stranraer as they were turned over by a useful Brechin side.
The Blues just couldn’t get going and never reached the dizzy heights of the previous home performance against Alloa. However, it was beyond dispute that the visitors were worthy of their victory.
Brechin showed their intent right from the off and when Derek Carcary raced clear of the Blues defence, his cross went just behind Alan Trouten. Andy Jackson, following up, reached it and his shot was blocked by Frank McKeown but the danger signs were there within the first few minutes.
Grant Gallagher, Sean Winter and Craig Malcolm linked up to create a half chance that was blocked and Carcary was sent dangerously clear again but his cross found no takers. Jackson had a half chance but couldn’t find a way past the Blues defence as the home side continued to face sustained pressure. Eventually another quick counter-attack from the visitors saw them outnumber the defence and, when Carcary slipped a ball through for Jackson, Stranraer keeper David Mitchell mistimed his challenge and brought the striker to the deck, resulting in a penalty. Trouten stepped forward and slotted the ball home.
The next attack saw Craig Molloy latch on to clearance and he tried to chip Mitchell but the faintest of deflections saw it loop high and fall inches wide.
The passage of play was entirely in one direction and this time the visitors tried a route one attack. Michael Andrews cleared long, and the ball fell to Carcary who turned and cracked a shot at goal that Mitchell had to turn over acrobatically. Brechin were in complete control and a strangely subdued Stranraer seemed incapable of grabbing any sort of way into the game. Even when a chance presented itself as Winter slid a pass through to Nicky Phinn it had a couple of yards too much pace and Andrews was able to mop up the danger.
Then a half chance arose from a Chris Aitken cross but Winter headed over. Aitken delivered another free kick that saw two half chances for Stranraer but Mick Dunlop’s hooked effort hit Ewan Moyes and fell to Ryan Borris but he shot over the top from a difficult angle. Kurtis Byrne responded for the visitors with a couple of chances but his first shot was too high and his next effort went straight to Mitchell. The game became much more even as the interval approached but there was little doubt that Stranraer would need to improve considerably to gain anything from the match.
A neat move from the Blues almost unlocked the Brechin defence. Malcolm played the ball to Armand Oné who flicked the ball on for Borris but just out of reach or he would have had a clear run at goal. The Blues’ best chance followed as Winter crossed for Aitken and Oné to challenge for it, allowing the chance to fall to Malcolm who connected but so did Moyes and the ball went inches wide.
This was the best period of the match for Stranraer but it ended when the visitors doubled their lead. A long ball from Molloy over the defence was controlled superbly by Carcary and, with his next touch, he smashed the ball past Mitchell.
The Blues had been planning a couple of changes as the goal went in and, despite their best efforts, the impact was minimal as the general flow of the game remained with Brechin who look like promotion play-off contenders.
Borris and Malcolm tried to fashion an opening for Michael Moore but Graham Hay did the job of defending on this occasion. Gallagher then went on a solo run through the middle and he found Borris on the left who had a shot himself and forced a save from Andrews. Moore headed the ball back into the six-yard box for Malcolm to turn and hook it goalwards but his effort sailed over the top, summing up the Blues’ day in an instant. Aitken had a long range try on the next break but his shot flew wide.
Molloy then showed his passing technique once again with a wonderful pass that sent Carcary clear on goal and he should have scored but Mitchell produced another fine save. Brechin looked the more dangerous as the game drew to a close but mercifully for Stranraer they failed to take their chances. Stephen Aitken felt it maybe had been a game too many in a week when a few of the squad had been struggling to make it and losing an early goal had made it too much of an uphill struggle against a side who were sharper on the day.
Stranraer: David Mitchell, Grant Gallagher, David MacGregor, Frank McKeown, Mick Dunlop, Chris Aitken, Sean Winter, Nicky Phinn (Lloyd Kinnaird 63), Armand Oné (Michael Moore 63), Craig Malcolm (Max Wright 86), Ryan Borris.
Subs not used: Robert Love, Russell Cadwell
Booked: Phinn, MacGregor
Brechin City: Michael Andrews, Gerry McLauchlan, Paul McLean, Graham Hay, Ewan Moyes, Gary Fusco, Alan Trouten (Jonathan Stewart 24), Craig Molloy, Andy Jackson (David McKenna 90), Kurtis Byrne, Derek Carcary (Scott Dalziel 82). Subs not used: Jonathan Brown, Craig Nelson.
Goals: Trouten 12 pen, Carcary 62
Referee: D Roache