Brora Rangers’ title hopes were severely dented when they lost 2-0 to an industrious Fraserburgh side at a very wet Bellslea Park on Saturday.
Brora had on loan Blair Maclennan making his debut and Zander Sutherland returned to the starting side after missing last week’s win against Deveronvale. Brora certainly had the lion’s share of the first 15 minutes, with Greig and Macleod looking sharp up front. However the first half chance of the game fell to Fraserburgh’s Harris, but his snap shot was well off target and the danger passed.
On 16 minutes Brora nearly took the lead when Scott Graham’s shot was well saved by Fraserburgh keeper Paul Leask. Within 10 minutes Brora were unlucky not to take the lead when a 35 yard dipping drive beat the Broch keeper, only to cannon over after hitting the crossbar.
At times Brora were playing some nice one touch football, and a five-man piercing move was very nearly converted by Kyle Macleod but he shot wide.
Against the run of play, Fraserburgh took the lead when an unmarked Willie West scored with a well placed header after a pinpoint cross from the left by Gary Harris.
The goal certainly galvanised Fraserburgh and both Brora central defenders Duff and Williamson were called upon to make crucial last man tackles which ensured the score remained 1-0 to the hosts at half time.
Fraserburgh nearly doubled their lead shortly into the second period, after the ball was bouncing around off players in the box, but Harris couldn’t convert the half chance.
Ally MacDonald replaced a very quiet Sutherland, and very nearly levelled things for the Cattachs, but his rasping shot was a little too high.
The Brora midfield and forward line were unusually ineffective in holding the ball up and the Brora defence were under persistent pressure, but Duff and Williamson were dominant in the air and bar one header from Marc Dickson, Brora keeper Munro was not called into action.
With just 15 minutes remaining Fraserburgh extended their lead when Gary Harris converted a penalty kick. The penalty was a highly contentious award as Brora defender John Pickles clearly won the ball with a well timed tackle and no one was more surprised with the decision than Harris.
Whilst Steven Ross had a half chance to pull one back for Brora, overall this was a bitterly disappointing performance and very little football was played by either side. An inability to get any grip on the centre of midfield cost Brora three crucial points and it was equally disappointing that Fraserburgh keeper Leask hardly had a save to make in the second period.
As a spectacle this was pretty low wattage fare. Brora manager Ross Tokely said: "There were words said at half time, but I didn’t get the response I wanted. When you come to places like this we need to show a bit of heart and we didn’t have that today."