Brora turn on the style of Champions
Brora Rangers were presented with their Champions flag before starting their home campaign, and they certainly unfurled an ominous warning to the rest of the Highland League that it will be no easy task to wrestle the crown from Dudgeon Park with an 11 goal haul.
They were at their imperious best with a hugely impressive team performance of slick one touch passing, fast and inventive play down the middle and on both flanks that simply swept Rothes aside.
As Rothes manager, former Buckie Thistle defender Paul Lamberton, said, ‘I am embarrassed and I’m in a bit of shock as well. We didn’t help ourselves and gave away some sloppy goals but in the end Brora destroyed us – we got what we deserved.’
Brora player-manager Richard Brittain agreed: ‘We were phenomenal from start to finish and we got a thoroughly deserved win and if I am being brutally honest I thought we should have scored a lot more. We got goals from all over the pitch, and it was great to see our attacking flair.’ As Brora winger Andrew Greig said, ‘The Rothes goalkeeper was brilliant throughout and the score could have been double.’
The goal-fest started in the 5th minute when Paul Brindle’s shot was blocked and the rebound fell to Andrew Greig, who stroked it past Matthew Mackie. Just a minute later Paul Brindle collected a Greig cross and held off a couple of challenges before shooting home.
Brora threatened the overworked Rothes defence with each wave of attacks and in the 10th minute the 3rd goal arrived. Steven MacKay got off the mark converting Zander Sutherland’s inviting right wing cross from the six yard line.
Rothes relieved the pressure with a rare break when Dale Gillespie slipped in midfield and Joe Malin was called into action when he held a low drive from Craig MacMillan. Shortly afterwards Rothes defender Graham Shand came off with what looked like a groin strain to be replaced by Gary Gallacher.
The onslaught continued and a Gavin Morrison drive from 25 yards flashed past the right hand post and a Greig drive was well held by Rothes keeper Mackie. It was Sutherland’s turn next to have a shot turned past the post for a corner before Gavin Morrison tried his luck again and almost deceived the keeper.
On 33 minutes Paul Brindle should have done better but took a little too long to set himself in the box before pulling the trigger and he was crowded out.
The dam broke again 3 minutes before half time when Brindle headed in Zander Sutherland’s in-swinging corner for goal number 4.
Rothes started the second half with a long range Bobrowski shot over the bar. However this was a ripple against the tide and in the 50th minute Dale Gillespie got on the score-sheet when he converted from the 3rd of a series of Brora corners for the 5th goal.
Scott Houston was booked for a tackle in the 53rd minute but Brora scored again a couple of minutes later following a great left wing run by the impressive 16 year old debutant full back Lewis Grant. He found Steven MacKay on the edge of the box and he took it past a defender before burying it in the corner of the net.
There followed a series of Brora attacks during which the Rothes goal led a charmed life as it remained intact following a series of deflections, blocks and near misses.
Brora replaced Dale Gillespie and Paul Brindle with Martin MacLean and Scott Graham and Rothes took off Stuart Thomson for Gary Ewan in the 64th minute.
Brora’s 7th goal duly arrived on 72 minutes and it was a beauty from Andrew Greig. He showed why he is the current Highland League’s player of the year by picking up a Rothes clearance in midfield, advancing to the D and clipping the ball into the right hand corner of the helpless Mackie’s net.
Brora replaced Grant Munro with Adam Porritt shortly after the goal and a couple of minutes later, goal number 8 arrived. Martin MacLean’s run and pass ended with Mackie’s block of Sutherland’s shot breaking to Steven MacKay and he tapped in from 6 yards.
The 9th goal came in the 79th minute. Martin MacLean headed a free kick from the right back across goal. It seemed to be heading into the postage stamp corner but Steven MacKay made sure.
Brora kept the pressure on and another mesmerising series of one touch passes in midfield ended with Martin MacLean’s drive just clearing the bar. 5 minutes from the end, Brora’s goal tally went into double figures when Zander Sutherland was brought down in the box by Rothes defender Donald Horsburgh. Sutherland picked himself up and emphatically slotted home the penalty.
The tide of Brora attacks continued in full flow and Andrew Greig, Steven MacKay, Zander Sutherland and Colin Williamson all went close, before Steven MacKay set up Scott Graham who was denied a goal by a great save from Mackie who spread himself and smothered the effort.
In injury time, Steven MacKay completed the scoring, his nap hand and Brora’s 11th goal with a powerful guided missile of a header from Andrew Greig’s corner.
This was a truly outstanding team performance from Brora Rangers. The new players are now bedded in and the influence of the new management team is beginning to come through. Richie Brittain and Stuart Kettlewell’s style of play is pleasing on the eye and their philosophy that it is a lot easier being in possession than having to chase the ball all over the field was demonstrated in this match to devastating effect.
Five different players scored and last season’s leading scorer Steven MacKay helped himself to 5 goals. Brora will come up against better defending during the season ahead but their firepower was amply demonstrated here. As the Rothes manager put it, ‘it was a mixture of brilliance from Brora and poor defending by ourselves.’
Attendance was 240 Referee: Calum Spence
Brora Rangers Rothes
1 Joe Malin 1 Matthew Mackie
2 Colin Williamson 2 Nathan Smith(booked 47)
3 Lewis Grant 3 Stuart Thomson (Garry Ewan 66)
4 Grant Munro (Porritt 73) 4 Connor Bain
5 Scott Houston (booked 53) 5 Donald Horsburgh (booked 77)
6 Dale Gillespie (Martin MacLean 64) 6 Graham Shand (Gary Gallacher 22)
7 Gavin Morrison 7 Stuart Hodge (booked 29)
8 Paul Brindle (Scott Graham 64) 8 Kyle Gauld
9 Zander Sutherland 9 Mateusz Bobrowski
10 Steven MacKay 10 Craig MacMillan
11 Andrew Greig 11 Liam Paterson
12 Ritchie Brittain 12 Gary Ewan
14 Stuart Kettlewell 14 Garry Gallacher
15 Martin MacLean 15
16 Scott Graham 16
17 Colin MacLean 17
18 Adam Porritt 18
21 Steven Martin 21 Bradley Macullagh