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Brechin City: Speedy SPFL return or Highland League heartbreak?

Brechin City are four wins from a Highland League title and eight from the SPFL. Courier Sport maps out the Angus side's rocky road back to the top.

Grady McGrath would love to play in the SPFL with Brechin City. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson
Grady McGrath would love to play in the SPFL with Brechin City. Image: Darrell Benns/DC Thomson

Brechin City are on course for a dramatic final day title decider with Highland League rivals Buckie Thistle.

City’s 0-0 draw with Brora Rangers moved them to within four points of Buckie with four matches left in their Highland League season.

They have one game in hand on Buckie that could see the Angus go one point behind Jags before what appears to be a win-or-bust clash at Victoria Park on April 22nd.

But what are Brechin’s chances of clinching their first-ever Highland League title?

Beyond that, what does their route back to the SPFL look like?

Are Brechin set for a speedy SPFL return or will they suffer Highland League heartbreak?

Courier Sport outlines the rocky road back to the SPFL:

Brechin City: 4 ‘must-win’ Highland League ties

Brechin City were held to a draw by Brora Rangers on Wednesday. Image: Paul Reid / DCT Media

Wednesday’s draw with Brora brought Brechin’s championship challenge into sharp focus.

Of their remaining five games, prior to Wednesday, Brora was the one most likely to cause them concern – before the final day match-up with Buckie.

Brora are regular championship challengers and won the title in 2020 and 2021. They are no mugs.

But courtesy of that draw, Brechin really can’t afford any further slip-ups, albeit they do have a ten goal superior goal difference over Buckie.

Should Brechin overcome Fraserburgh, they face trips to Clachnacuddin and Keith. City beat both those sides 5-0 at home earlier in the season.

Emerging unscathed from all three games ensures they can clinch the title against a Buckie side they beat 1-0 in August.

Buckie Thistle: A thorn in Brechin’s side?

Writing Buckie off would be doing them an enormous disservice.

They are unbeaten in 16 games and have only lost twice all season – 1-0 defeats to Brechin and Fraserburgh.

Buckie Thistle are four points ahead of Brechin City. Image: JASPERIMAGE / DCT Media

They finished second last term, just three adrift of Fraserburgh.

They have the advantage of having points on the board and only need two wins and a draw with Brechin to lift the silverware.

By the time Brechin play Fraserburgh next Wednesday, the Glebe Park men could be seven adrift of Buckie.

Jags face Strathspey Thistle on Saturday, a side that has an incredible -117 goal difference.

Julian Wade left the Caribbean sunshine island of Dominica to sign for Brechin City but is now at Formartine. Image: Brechin City FC

Anything other than a comfortable Buckie win would be a major shock.

However, there is a glimmer of hope for City as Buckie still have to face a resurgent Formartine United side.

Formartine ended Brechin’s year-long unbeaten run in February and have ex-City striker Julian Wade in their strikeforce.

It would be fitting if the Dominca international netted the goal that help City to the championship.

D-day: Saturday 22nd April

Brechin will travel to face Buckie Thistle at Victoria Park. Image: SNS

Brechin will make the 196-mile round trip to the Moray Firth coastal town of Buckie on April 22nd.

They will be backed inside Victoria Park by an army of fans from Angus.

At least THREE supporters buses are making the trek up the A96 with many more travelling by car or public transport.

Buckie fans will also turn out in their numbers to create a party atmosphere with silverware likely to be on show for the winners.

If Brechin win title, what next?

Brechin won’t have very long to enjoy the celebrations if they beat Buckie on the final day to claim the championship.

The title winners go straight into a two-legged pyramid play-off with the Lowland League champions on April 29th and May 6th.

Brechin City stars Anthony McDonald and Grady McGrath are hoping for title success. Image: Richard Wiseman / DCT Media

At the moment, that is looking like Edinburgh-based Spartans, unless University of Stirling can make a late charge.

Victory in that tie will see them face club 42 in the SPFL on May 13th and 20th.

Albion Rovers, Elgin City and Bonnyrigg Rose are all scrapping it currently in League Two out to avoid being club 42.

Success over two legs in the pyramid play-off final would be sweet redemption for City.

It’s two years since they suffered the dejection of relegation via a pyramid trapdoor defeat to Kelty Hearts.

What if they fail to win anything?

Brechin’s ultimate aim is to return to the SPFL.

They have enjoyed their Highland League adventure more than anticipated and it hasn’t dented their fans enthusiasm for football.

If anything, the bond between City’s fans and the club has strengthened considerably under Kevin Mackie’s chairmanship.

Kevin Mackie has changed the ethos of Brechin. Image: Brechin City

They have evolved the club ethos to become a more community-driven organisation, one that embraces the power of local links.

The club has increased revenue streams and is more commercially sound.

They have also halted the short-term approach of summer rebuilds.

Several Brechin players are on long-term deals, as is manager Andy Kirk.

The club has also invested in hiring top-class training facilities and a luxury coach, used by Celtic and Rangers, for Highland League travel.

Kirk is ambitious and wants to take his coaching career to the top.

But before he gets there, he wants to finish the Brechin project.

Second place would be bitterly disappointing for Brechin.

But it can’t and won’t be the end for the Angus side who, ironically, looking very well placed to thrive in League Two if they can get there.

Final fixtures

Brechin City: Fraserburgh (h) April 12th, Clachnacuddin (a) April 15th, Keith (a) April 19th, Buckie (a) April 22nd.

Buckie Thistle: Strathspey Thistle (a) April 8th, Formartine (h) April 15th, Brechin (h) April 22nd.

Pyramid play-off dates: Semi-final April 29th & May 5th, final May 13th & May 20th