Brora edge out Locos in closely fought league season closer

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The 2013/14 League Champions Brora Rangers were blessed with a perfect day for their gala celebrations as they were presented with the prestigious silverware at the end of a hard fought win by the odd goal in three against second placed Inverurie Locos.

There was no way the newly crowned Aberdeenshire Shield winners Locos were turning up to play second fiddle and looking well fired up, they may well have gone ahead with less than a minute on the clock. An attempted back header to Joe Malin by Scott Houston was too short. Midweek scoring hero Martin Bavidge stuck his foot out to lob it over the goalkeeper but could not get the direction on the ball which went just wide of the right hand post.

A typically cheeky run by the League’s overall top scorer Neil Gauld was taking him towards Malin but Williamson kept his cool and stopped him in his tracks

It was the Cattachs who drew first blood n 33 minutes, as Ross TOKELY got his glancing header on a Gavin Morrison free-kick although it was a soft award by ref Graham Elder, Tokely falling like a sack of tatties.

Just a minute later Locos’ in form centre back Ryan Broadhurst cleared the ball off the line after Andy Reid had parried from Mackay’s effort under pressure from Sutherland.

A killer 90 seconds from Locos’ point of view looked like killing them off. At one end the continually inspiring captain Neil McLean waltzed his way through defenders in the home box. All he did wrong was fail to pull the trigger.

When the ball was played out of the danger area, left winger Andrew Greig moved quietly into the Locos half and sent through an incisive pass to Zander SUTHERLAND. From the edge of the box the former Buckie hero slotted the ball past the advancing Reid.

To have any hope of salvaging something, the Red and Blacks needed a response quickly. Neil Gauld took a ball on the volley but saw his effort go wide, but with less than a minute to play until half-time Locos pulled one back.

From a David Ross lay off, Ross Anderson fired a shot back in, it was drifting wide but was latched on to by Neil GAULD, who controlled well before firing into the corner of the net for his 43rd of the season. And unusually, on his left foot.

With 57 minutes played, Dean Donaldson picked out Gauld who carefully chested the ball down but saw his shot come back off the inside of the keeper’s post with the score odds on to go to 2-2. It was a wide open game with the play flowing end to end. Andrew Greig saw a deflected shot go into the side net of Andy Reid, the custodian keeping the ball away from his goal

Midway through the second-half, substitute Jordan Leyden got on the end of a curled back cross by Gauld. He took it on the first time volley, and the scuffed shot was well turned round the post by Malin. Then a Maitland header from a McLean corner went close.

At the end of it all it was another win for Brora Rangers and a final points total unlikely to be beaten in the years ahead, 95 points out of a possible 102.

However Scott Buchan, Kenny Coull, Iain Alexander and their playing staff can take great credit. At absolutely no stage of this game were they overawed or outplayed. They played clever, thoughtful, incisive football throughout against well deserving champions.

Locos have played great football over the course of the whole season. New players younger and older have gelled quickly in a squad that was in need of refreshing, which the co-managers identified after the League Cup Final defeat by Keith exactly a year ago.

An exhilarating season from the Red and Blacks who were rewarded with the Aberdeenshire Shield for all their hard work

Brora Rangers: Malin, Houston, Williamson, Tokely, D Mackay, Morrison (Hind 82), S Ross, Gillespie (Maclean 65), Sutherland, S Mackay, Greig

Subs: Watson, J Ross, Allan

Inverurie Locos: Reid, Mitchell, Maitland, Begg (Souter 70), Anderson, Broadhurst, Ross (Hunter 58), McLean, Gauld, Bavidge, Donaldson (Leyden 58)

Subs: Forsyth, Mathieson.

Referee: G Elder