THIS tale of two Cities was won in comprehensive style by the visiting Brechin, who began imposing their obvious superiority from the very beginning at Meadowbank. Three goals in the opening half, all claimed by Iain Diack, trashed any romantic notions of a cup upset, and earned in-form Brechin a home tie with St Mirren in the fourth round of the Homecoming Scottish Cup. Nobody will relish a trip to Glebe Park at present, even those who operate under the SPL's supposed banner of quality.
The Second Division side are proving lively wherever they play this season, and were assured as they negotiated this latest test. Two early goals from Diack deflated the home side, who were never allowed the chance to press home the advantage of playing at their own stadium. Brechin adapted best in the watery light emitted by the floodlights, and Diack must have cursed the decision not to switch on the large scoreboard at the Princes Street end of the stadium. His deed of snatching a first-half hat-trick would have looked good up in lights.
At least the home side were spared the reminder of just how badly things were going, with confidence an issue as early as the 16th minute.
Edinburgh City can truly be classed a cup team – of their 15 games this season, all but three have been in various knock-out competitions. Indeed, it is now December, and they have yet to play an away league fixture, something which explains the club's current berth of third bottom in the East of Scotland Premier Division.
All eyes were on this fixture by dint of it being the only game in Scotland to be played last night. While both sides would have preferred this to have been played at the weekend, as scheduled, spectators gathered in healthy numbers.
Edinburgh City have not always played at Meadowbank, only moving to the stadium in the mid-Nineties. Prior to this, and a decade-long spell of dormancy, they played at Spartans' current home – City Park, hence the name. It was there where Brechin last faced Edinburgh City, and it proved a profitable visit. The Angus side triumphed 11-1 almost 60 years ago to the day, and those among the home support last night must have feared things were going to go the same dispiriting way early in proceedings. Certainly the shrieks from what sounded like mothers of certain players grew more anguished with every misplaced pass from their unhappy sons, tossed into this testing environment. "I am sorry, but he needs a kick up the backside," shouted one unsympathetic member of this sisterhood.
Brechin have only lost once in 15 games in the Second Division, and have earned plaudits for their style under manager Michael O'Neill. Even at an unsheltered Meadowbank this panache was apparent. Edinburgh City, by contrast, were kitted out like Real Madrid, and went on to play like the currently toiling Spanish aristocrats. Their all-white attire soon began to exhibit signs of a torrid night, with most smeared by mud.
John Hall, the home right-back, was placed under pressure from the start, and was harried into a mistake in just six minutes. Darren Smith dispossessed Hall, and sent in a cross to the far post. Like any good centre-forward, this was where Diack lurked. He had the simplest task of prodding the ball into the net. This was not the start required by a team already regarded as serious underdogs. They mustered little in response, falling further behind to Diack's second – a skilful finish into the corner from 16 yards after more good work by Smith on the wing. In between times home keeper Duncan Monteith had tipped over another fierce effort from Diack.
Edinburgh City made gradual inroads, and Kevin Morrison's deflected free-kick tested veteran Brechin goalkeeper Craig Nelson. A back-post header by Douglas Gair almost found the corner of the net. But Brechin's response was to score a third just before the break. Kevin Morrison was unfortunately adjudged to have pulled down Kevin Byers by replacement referee Colin Brown, and Diack made the most of the opportunity to complete his hat-trick. The second period contained more of the same for the tiring home team – but the restriction of Brechin to those three first-half goals must be considered a victory in itself.
Edinburgh City: Montieth, John Hall, Kenny Ross, MacNamara, Bruce, Jordan Hall, Caddow, Morrison, Robbie Ross, Clee, Gair. Subs: Munro, Taylor, Callandine, Niven, Hogarth.
Brechin City: Craig Nelson, Murie, Dyer, Ward, White, Adam Nelson, Byers, Nimmo, Twigg, Diack, Darren Smith. Subs: King, Fusco, Baird, Janczyk, Scott.
Stranraer infuriated by late call-off
STRANRAER were stunned to receive a phone call telling them their re-arranged Scottish Cup tie at Forfar Athletic was postponed for a third time when they were only five minutes away from the Station Park ground.
The cash-strapped Second Division club started off on their journey after receiving news that the pitch had been passed playable at a 12.30 pitch inspection and assistant manager Keith Knox was left dumbfounded by the decision.
"The referee said there was a strip down the far side that he was not happy with and therefore he had to call the game off. When you consider the financial state of this club and others this is just a crazy way to try and do things. We now have players that need to ask for Wednesday afternoon off for a cup-tie that may not happen."
If the tie does not go ahead on Wednesday, Stranraer are due to face Brechin on Saturday, Forfar on Monday in away games and then Peterhead on Wednesday in a re-arranged league fixture. Knox added: "Scottish football is a crazy business sometimes."