Brora go second after five-star performance
BRORA Rangers kept up their title challenge with an impressive and dominant display at The Haughs on Saturday, running out 5-0 winners against Turriff United.
With Fraserburgh going down 2-1 at Wick, the Cattachs moved into second place in the Highland League table, three points behind leaders Cove.
The ground staff at Turriff must have been working long hours to produce a pitch in near perfect condition for the match, especially as many other fixtures fell victim to the first blast of disruptive wintry weather.
Brora lined up with an unchanged side and welcomed Paul Brindle back onto the bench following his medical procedures for his hamstring. This was the first time this season that Brora had a full complement of substitutes in the dugout, a welcome development as the business end of the campaign approaches.
Brora started the game in imperious style with Messrs Maclean, Gillespie and Morrison quickly establishing themselves the dominant force in the middle of the park and the visitors played some delightful passing football.
It was to player/boss Steven Mackay that the first real chance of the game fell, but he miscued his shot and it sailed wide. Turriff goalkeeper Fraser Hobday – who was to become their man of the match – was quickly into action, saving well from Ally MacDonald and Kyle MacLeod.
Brora were now attacking in waves and in 10 minutes the ball bobbled unkindly for Mackay as he missed a golden opportunity to open the scoring.
A quick counter-attack saw Turriff's Michael Ewen break free from his marker. He played the ball back across the goalmouth to Michael Ironside, who fired well wide with an open goal.
The warning was heeded by Brora, and they immediate pressed forward with a Dale Gillespie drive just missing the postage-stamp corner. Martin Maclean then fired an effort towards goal but Hobday was equal to it as he parried the ball around the post.
The resultant corner saw the ball fire around the Turriff box before Owen Cairns managed to punt the ball clear.
Macleod, Sutherland, Morrison, Mackay and Maclean all peppered the Turriff goal, but Hobday was right on his game.
Just as the clock was ticking down to half time, the deadlock was broken by Gillespie who managed to get a boot into another goalmouth scramble to send the visitors into the break in the ascendency.
As now seems the norm, Brora came out for the second half and almost immediately doubled the lead. Some lovely passing between Sutherland, Macleod and Maclean saw the tall midfielder slot the ball past Hobday.
In the 58th minute Brora sealed the outcome when Mackay nodded in on the line. Despite the protests from the Turriff players, referee Scott Leslie consulted with assistant Scott Donohoe and the goal stood.
Brora continued to press home their advantage and made it four in the 64th minute when Mackay finished nicely with an angled shot after a well-worked free kick.
On 70 minutes Brora went nap when the hard-working Zander Sutherland cut in from the wing, took on and beat two defenders and scored with a well-positioned finish.
Post-match, assistant manager David Calder was delighted with the outcome. "We got most of our goals in the second half, but I was really proud with our first-half showing," he said.
"We had a dozen opportunities in that first half but we only converted one, so our second-half performance made it a good day's work.
"We have racked up 16 clean sheets in the campaign. The players are performing with confidence, knowing that if we win all our remaining games we will be bang in there for the title."
Two-goal hero Steven Mackay said: "We are defending so well at present, as good as I've seen in my seven years at Brora. The boys are playing with so much confidence."
Turriff boss Kris Hunter said: "That's probably the best team we have played in the league this season. They are aggressive and bullied us. I've always said Brora have a chance of winning the league."
Tomorrow, Brora Rangers entertain Inverurie Locos at Dudgeon Park (kick-off 3pm).