Brora Rangers took a major step towards what would be their first title since 2015 with victory against Fraserburgh – and midfielder Dale Gillespie says it’s now up to the Cattachs to finish the job.
The men from Sutherland came from behind to claim the points at Bellslea courtesy of Gillespie’s penalty and Paul Brindle’s stoppage-time winner.
Brora are 11 points ahead of second-placed Inverurie Locos and now 20 points clear of the fourth-placed Broch, who have four games in hand.
Gillespie said: “We’re delighted with the win. In the first half Fraserburgh dominated us and then scored early in the second.
“We got a penalty soon after which helped us because we didn’t look like scoring at that point.
“The momentum changed after that and we had two or three good chances before scoring our second.
“There’s a lot of football left this season, but we’re delighted with the win. It puts us in a great position, but we’ve still got to play Formartine twice and Buckie as well and we’re still looking to win every game.
“It’s up to ourselves to get the job done and we’ll keep trying to win every game.”
Brora were forced into a change shortly before kick-off with Ally MacDonald hurting his calf in the warm-up and Tom Kelly coming off the bench.
Although Brora were playing with the strong wind at their backs in the first period it did not give them any significant advantage, with Gillespie’s free kick from 25 yards that flashed wide their best effort.
For the Broch, Paul Young scuffed an effort straight at Joe Malin in goal after neat build-up from Ryan Sargent.
Sargent, back from a loan spell at Deveronvale, went close with a first-time volley from the right side of the area and shortly before half-time Young’s cross was just of of the winger’s reach.
Three minutes after the interval Fraserburgh moved in front when Scott Barbour’s initial shot was blocked and, after some head tennis, the ball broke for Sean Butcher six yards out to score.
The lead lasted only five minutes when Brindle beat Owen Cairns down the left and was pulled down with referee Mat Northcroft pointing to the penalty spot and Gillespie sent his effort from 12 yards into the bottom-right corner.
After that, Brora’s organisation made it difficult for Fraserburgh and, as the hosts committed more men forward, they were caught on the break with eight minutes left, but sub James Wallace shot straight at Paul Leask when clean through.
At the other end Barbour rolled a defender but Malin parried the angled drive to safety. In the second minute of injury time Brora snatched the victory.
Greg Morrison’s flick on put Brindle clear and, with Fraserburgh appealing for offside, Brindle calmly slotted his shot beyond Leask.
Broch winger Sargent said: “It was disappointing not to get something out of the game.
“After being 1-0 up I thought we’d be able to kick on and win it, but it wasn’t to be.
“Brora maybe showed why they are top of the league but we deserved something.”