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Brechin verdict: Key moments and player ratings as Angus side secure Highland League title showdown with Buckie Thistle

Brechin will travel to Buckie on Saturday for a winner-takes-all Highland League title shoot-out against a Thistle side that haven't lost at home in four years.

Brechin City players celebrate Fraser MacLeod's strike. Image: Wullie Marr/
DCT Media
Brechin City players celebrate Fraser MacLeod's strike. Image: Wullie Marr/ DCT Media

Brechin City will travel to Buckie Thistle on Saturday for a final day winner-takes-all Highland League title showdown.

The Angus side secured the shoot-out after a hard-fought 2-0 win at Keith moved them to within a point of Buckie.

Goals from Fraser MacLeod and Ewan Loudon were enough to give Brechin a shot at glory.

And with an SPFL pyramid play-off also at stake for Saturday’s victor, the prize could be much greater than a trophy.

Brechin City v Keith: Key moments

Brechin went into this game determined to ย ensure Saturday’s trip to Victoria Park was a title decider at all costs.

And, once again, they were backed by an army of fans who made the 170-mile trek to Moray to cheer on their team.

City star Michael Cruickshank praised the loyal punters in the pre-match build-up.

And the defender admitted it was down to the players to deliver on the park.

But would they get over one final hurdle before the big Buckie showdown?

The visitors took the game to Keith early on with Anthony McDonald their chief creative force.

McDonald had the game’s first chance on five minutes as he raced onto Botti Biabi’s flick-on only to fire a shot straight at Keith keeper Craig Reid.

Euan Spark then headed over after meeting Jamie Bain’s free-kick.

City had claims for a penalty waved away as Michael Ironside appeared to handle in the box.

And, moments after Keith had boss Craig Ewen sent to the the stand, City made a crucial 29th minute breakthrough.

Biabi’s delicious low cross sat up perfectly for MacLeod to drill home from 15 yards.

Fraser MacLeod has made an impact at Brechin City. Image: Graeme Youngson/ Brechin City
Fraser MacLeod gave Brechin City the lead. Image: Graeme Youngson/ Brechin City

It was almost 2-0, seconds later, as home defender Murray Addison blocked a Biabi header on the line.

Top scorer Grady McGrath also flashed wide from ten yards before forcing a point-blank save out of Reid.

Keith upped their game in the second period and made for a nervy finish.

But Brechin calmed the nerves with sub Loudon smashing the ball into the net at the second attempt.

Brechin player ratings

Brechin City: Wilson 6, Bain 7, McHattie 7, Cooney 6, Spark 6, MacLeod 8, Scott 7 (Ferguson 3), McArthur 7, McGrath 6, Biabi 7 (Loudon 5), McDonald 7 (Northcott 3). Subs: Easton, Koutismouka, Thomson, Cruickshank.

Brechin star man

Fraser MacLeod got the all-important opener and was a livewire in the heart of midfield for Brechin.

Manager under the microscope

Brechin City boss Andy Kirk. Image: Kenny Elrick / DCT Media

Andy Kirk has been at pains to insist that his full focus has been on the games leading up to the Buckie match-up.

That’s a sensible approach and while this was far from a vintage display, it was enough to give Brechin a shot at Highland League glory.

What does this mean for the title race?

Brechin will travel to Buckie a point behind their hosts.

City MUST win to seal the championship, Buckie can afford to draw.

Incredibly, Buckie haven’t lost at home in 44 league games, a remarkable run that stretches back to August 2019.

What a time it would be for Brechin to break that record, to lift silverware and seal their place in the SPFL pyramid play-off.

There could be 750 City fans in Buckie with a crowd edging towards 2,000. It is all set up to be a cracking day.

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