Two goals conceded but Brora Rangers remain top of the Highland League
Written by Eddie Macrae
Brora Rangers continue to keep their Highland League title rivals in their wake with a 4-2 victory over Deveronvale last Saturday.
Although the Cattachs controlled the match for the most part, manager Steven MacKay said: “It’s fair to say we didn’t perform to the levels we’ve become accustomed to.”
The main disappointment was that the frugal defence who had conceded a miserly eight goals in their 20 previous league matches contrived to ship two more in this match with uncharacteristic lapses of concentration. As Vale boss Steve Dolan rightly said: “We were beaten but not many sides will come up here and score twice this season.”
The home side had reluctantly agreed to release stalwart midfielder Gavin Morrison from his contract earlier in the week and so lined up in a 4-4-2 formation with John Pickles and Ally MacDonald on either side of Colin Williamson and Mark Nicolson at the back. Tom Kelly was on the right of midfield with Greg Morrison on the left and Dale Gillespie and Martin MacLean playing through the middle. The two MacRaes – Jordan and Andy – were the strikers.
Brora opened the scoring in five minutes with Gillespie converting a low 25-yard free kick into the left-hand corner of the net.
However, the Banff men equalised in the seventh minute when Courtney Cooper wasn’t picked up as he ran into the box and met a left-wing corner with an emphatic header beyond Joe Malin.
On 17 minutes, Brora re-established the lead when Kelly fed Jordan MacRae on the shoulder of the last defender and he advance a couple of paces before burying a stinging drive across Vale keeper James Blanchard and into the far corner to make it 2-1.
A minute after going ahead again, the home side stretched their lead. MacLean fed the overlapping Pickles on the right and his low cross was cleared as far as Gillespie fully 35 yards from goal. Blanchard managed to get a touch to Gillespie’s powerful rising drive but only succeeded in touching it on to the underside of the crossbar and into the net for Gillespie’s brace and Brora’s third.
After this early burst of goals, the match settled down and the interval was reached without any further scoring.
The second half followed the pattern of the first half with the goalscoring in the early stages. The Cattachs went further ahead in the 52nd minute when Andy MacRae threw himself at a right-wing cross and buried a diving header for goal number four.
Once again, however, Brora were pegged back when, four minutes later, Deveronvale’s Sam Robertson’s right wing run and low cross was met by Ryan Sargeant who got between the Brora defenders and guided it inside the far post to reduce the deficit.
That was the end of the scoring and the final third of the game was characterised by Brora seeing out the game without any more scares.
Brora’s next match sees them host Inverurie Locos who are an in-form member of the chasing pack so another important match in the title run-in.