Alloa’s hat-trick hero ends up on losing side

Brechin's Finn Graham celebrates with the fans at full time. Picture: Ross Parker
Brechin's Finn Graham celebrates with the fans at full time. Picture: Ross Parker
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Alloa Athletic 4 - 3 Brechin City (4-4 on aggregate after extra time Brechin won 5-4 on penalties

This, after a week of dramatic play-off matches, was surely the most bonkers and utterly compelling of them all.

An extraordinary stamina sapping affair saw goals come in explosive bursts in either half and had onlookers struggling to keep track with the match score let alone the aggregate total of the two legs at times.

At the end of this truly epic encounter which saw the aggregate score tied at four goals each after extra-time, Brechin City prevailed in a penalty shoot-out, just as they had in the semi-final against Raith, and Darren Dods’ men will now proudly take their place in the Championship next season.

While there will be some sympathy for an Alloa side that finished no fewer than 12 points ahead of yesterday’s opponents in League One, there can be no lack of admiration for Dods and his players. Having defied the odds to overcome Raith on their home patch last week they did it again last night at the Indrodrill Stadium displaying phenomenal spirit to see this one out as the one goal advantage they had built up from the first leg at Glebe Park was extended and then eaten away in a free scoring affair that saw the hosts Greig Spence net a hat-trick yet still end up on the losing side.

Truth be told the Angus side looked every bit the underdogs in the early stages of this game as Spence, Jordan Kirkpatrick and Kevin Cawley all went close for the hosts. Despite being under siege however Brechin had shown some composed touches on the break and they exemplified this with the game’s opening goal that was stunning as much for its execution as for its unexpected arrival. A darting move upfield saw James Dale unleash a quite majestic dipping shot from 25 yards which left home goalkeeper Neil Parry completely helpless as it flew in the net.

However City hardly had time to savour the moment as almost immediately Alloa flew upfield and match referee Nick Walsh awarded a spot kick for a hand ball by Andrew Graham. Spence stepped up and clinically dispatched the penalty past Smith. Astonishingly the tie was then levelled by Spence just four minutes later as he powered a header into net. There was no doubt that Dods must have been glad to get his players back into the dressing room at the interval and the half-time team talk clearly paid off with full-back Paul McLean knocking a corner into the net in the 54th minute to once again put Angus side in front on aggregate.

It took while for the home side to regain their momentum but then Spence popped up yet again to complete his hat-trick with a fine overhead kick which crept in at Smith’s near post. This sparked another crazy roller-coaster spell of play with Liam Watt giving the brave visitors the upper hand with a finish off an intricate passing move, only for it to be immediately nullified by Dylan Mackin for the hosts.

With the tie square at four a piece the game moved into extra time, and both sides just gave their all in search of one more goal that would spare us the nerve-shredding necessity of a penalties. It wasn’t for the lack of trying but the 30 added minutes came and went and the shoot-out arrived.

Ironically Spence was to see his penalty saved and although Brechin’s Andy Jackson saw his blocked by Parry, a further miss by Iain Flannigan for Alloa allowed Dale to seal it 5-4 to spark jubilant scenes for the visitors.