Brechin City 0-2 Forfar Athletic: Loons go top as Brechin’s woes worsen

Photo - Chris Coutts.
Photo - Chris Coutts.

Forfar Athletic went back to the top of the table on Saturday after seeing off rivals Brechin City 2-0.

Derek Young and Omar Kader got the goals to send the Loons to the summit of League One but the visitors had to work for it.

Forfar will be thrilled to have taken the victory on an afternoon where their defence had to hold up for 30 minutes of utterly relentless attack from City’s forwards.

But just as the Glebe Park surface held up to the torrential rain, the Loons back line were a match for Brechin’s attacking play before the visitors made them pay for the lack of a cutting edge.

The opening goal was everything you expect from a Forfar Athletic opener these days as the side surged forward on a scything counter-attack through Kader; the winger fed Martyn Fotheringham who, after beating three City players, chipped a delicious cross to Young who duly nodded home from six yards out.

It was their first chance of the game and came in the 35th minute.

Even with the manager able to remain on the sidelines for once, and with a far improved display, Dods is still without a win as Brechin boss and the frustration is clear to see.

City’s defence looked much more secure with the addition of loan signing David Bates from Raith Rovers, and the 19-year-old looked very assured in place of the player-manager alongside Darren McCormack.

Paul McLean came off the bench after a lengthy injury lay-off and his return will introduce further solidity to a defensive line that has been anything but sturdy.

Forfar meanwhile look to have the perfect balance from left to right in defence and midfield, so Kader’s absence for the next few months is an unfortunate one for Dick Campbell.

A deluge of strikers could see resolution with Gavin Swankie - on the bench at Glebe Park after injury - moving to the left flank, or perhaps Fotheringham can move to the right flank with Danny Denholm switching flanks.

The introduction of Andy Black from the bench in his preferred role of centre midfield shows the value of his arrival from Dundee, with the youngster distributing the ball with great accuracy and covering every inch of sodden grass beside Bryan Hodge.

City had the first chance inside five minutes when a terrific Willie Dyer free kick - the first of many - was met with a bullet header by McCormack, but the centre half sent the effort wide of the post when he really should have scored.

It was all Brechin for the first 35 minutes as the players pinged the ball around in a style you wouldn’t expect to see in such horrid conditions.

There weren’t many in the way of clear cut chances though as City’s final ball just evaded them.

Dyer looked to test debutant Scott Gallacher in the Loons goals with a close range free kick but the effort deflected off the wall for a corner.

Andy Jackson had an excellent chance to give the hosts a very deserved lead on the half hour mark when he flicked a header to Gallacher’s bottom right after Craig Molloy’s chipped free kick, but the on-loan Hearts goalie made a smart save to keep it goalless.

The Loons then went ahead as Young - up front rather than in his usual defensive midfield berth - got the opener.

A defensive mix-up between Michael Travis and Tam O’Brien let David Weatherston take a shot from just inside the box but his effort was right at Gallacher.

It was 2-0 just four minutes into the second half as Kader got the last touch to Black’s long range strike; the winger looked to be offside but the linesman didn’t raise his flag and the goal stood.

Gallacher is expected to fill in for Rab Douglas while the aging stopper recovers from a groin problem and he showed why he’s the man Dick Campbell wanted when Jackson headed Dyer’s whipped free kick, but the Hearts keeper managed to claw the ball from behind him and onto the crossbar.

Denholm then hit the post with a lovely volley.

Full-time followed though and the fortunes of these derby rivals couldn’t be more jarring in their polarity - one sits atop the league without yet performing as well as they can (45 breathtaking minutes at home to Stenhousemuir aside, perhaps), and one rooted to the foot of the table with no points and a rookie manager desperate for a maiden victory.

Dunfermline remain title favourites, but the Loons- or Ayr United - won’t make it easy for them.