Brora Rangers overcame dogged resistance from Strathspey Thistle to take the three points. This win moved Brora above Formartine to second in the Highland League table behind leaders Cove Rangers, whose win at Pitmedden was their 12th consecutive league victory.
Brora found it difficult to break through the two rows of four that Strathspey put in front of them. However, both managers thought Brora played well. As Thistle’s Brian Grant said: “We didn’t really get to grips with Brora, they shift the ball around well and with their players’ movement off the ball they are hard to mark down.
“They played extremely well and the best team won – I’ve no complaints with that. All credit to Brora, they work hard, their movement is fantastic with two fast boys on the wing and they’re very good at what they do.”
Brora player-manager Richie Brittain agreed. He said: “I thought it was a good performance, we could have scored more goals and we had the bit between our teeth.
“We looked a bit tired at times but that’s to be expected with three tough games in a week and the long trip to Huntly in midweek, so basically I’m happy with the performance and the three points.
“Strathspey played well and made it difficult for us at times and their keeper made some great saves but that’s taking nothing away from ourselves – we played well.”
Strathspey opened brightly and Scott Hume had an early chance that he lobbed over the bar and a one-on-one run on the Brora goal was halted by the offside flag.
Brora opened the scoring in the 18th minute when a neat passing move between Zander Sutherland and Andrew Greig resulted in Greig’s cross being headed into the far corner of the net by Paul Brindle.
Eight minutes later, Brindle added a second for the Cattachs when he finished off another Brora left-wing move, by slotting the ball into the left-hand corner of Strathspey keeper Michael MacCallum’s net.
Just past the half hour Sutherland played in Scott Graham and his effort skidded off the crossbar and clear. But Strathspey threatened in their rare breaks forward and Brora custodian Joe Malin parried a good effort from Josh Peters over the bar.
Five minutes before half-time, Sutherland’s run and through ball to Brindle was cleared as the Brora number 10 looked to complete his hat-trick.
It was more of the same early in the second half when Greig’s mazy run and cross was headed narrowly past the near post by Brindle. A couple of minutes after this Greig was pulled down on the edge of the box by Strathspey’s Jordan Wardrope, although the ball reached Brindle who was clean though on goal. Rather than play advantage, the referee blew for the foul which frustrated the Brora team and fans.
The pattern of Brora creating a lot of chances with the odd Strathspey breakaway continued and was not changed when the visitors replaced Josh Race and Stuart Patience with Kane Hull and Owen Cairns on the hour.
After Brora replaced Dale Gillespie with player-manager Richie Brittain, a Sutherland run and pile-driver was acrobatically parried away by Strathspey’s ex-Nairn County keeper MacCallum in the 75th minute.
A minute later Brora finally converted one of their conveyor-belt of chances when a great flowing move was finished by full-back Colin Williamson for the third goal.
Brora then gave promising young Orcadian full-back John Pickles a run out by replacing Grant Munro and moving Williamson alongside Scott Houston at centre-back.
The home side continued to bombard the Strathspey goal and 10 minutes from time Brittain drove a 25-yard free-kick from centre-right of the box narrowly wide of the far post. However there was no more scoring.