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Joe Malin reveals thoughts of retirement after key role in Brora Rangers’ Highland League Cup triumph

The Cattachs defeated Fraserburgh on penalties.

The Brora Rangers squad celebrates with the GPH Builders Merchants Highland League Cup after their victory against Fraserburgh. Pictures by Kath Flannery/DCT Media.
The Brora Rangers squad celebrates with the GPH Builders Merchants Highland League Cup after their victory against Fraserburgh. Pictures by Kath Flannery/DCT Media.

Joe Malin was Brora Rangers’ hero as they won the GPH Builders Merchants Highland League Cup on penalties – and the goalkeeper revealed it may be the last triumph of his illustrious career.

The Cattachs edged out Fraserburgh 5-4 in the shoot-out after a 1-1 draw in the final at Inverurie’s Harlaw Park.

Malin made a string of good stops in the first half to keep his side in the contest and then made the decisive penalty save from Sean Butcher in the shoot-out.

The 35-year-old has only played a handful of times this season, but was between the posts after Ross County recalled loanee Logan Ross.

During Malin’s 11 years at Dudgeon Park, he has helped Brora win four Breedon Highland Leagues, six North of Scotland Cups and three Highland League Cups.

But he revealed he may be about to hang up his gloves.

Malin said: “My last game was six weeks ago and I’ve only played four or five times this season.

“I’ve not trained in months, but sometimes instinct and adrenaline can get you through.

“Thankfully the body and the brain know what they’re doing after all these years.

“Since I ruptured my Achilles a year-and-a-half ago, it’s had an impact and my body isn’t the same.

“Initially, when I found out I was playing, I was just hoping I could get through the game OK. But after I’d got my head around it, I did some prep work on the penalties.

The Brora players celebrate their shoot-out success, with Joe Malin pictured in blue.

“Going into the penalties, I was really confident I’d save at least one because of the homework I did on Friday night.

“For me this is the last trophy I’ll win as a player – and I absolutely mean it this time.

“It was special to contribute and help win the trophy for the club. It’s a really nice way to bow out from playing.

“Being harsh on myself, I could have done a wee bit better with the Fraserburgh goal.

“But the only thing that matters is winning the trophy and we’re delighted.”

MacDonald makes mark as boss

For Brora player-manager Ally MacDonald, it’s a first trophy as boss and comes near the end of a challenging campaign.

He added: “It means a lot. We put pressure on ourselves to win trophies and be successful.

“We put in a lot of time and effort – as every manager does – and to see a reward for that is great.

“But it’s more for the players, the fans and the club.

Brora boss Ally MacDonald, left, and assistant manager Josh Meekings.

“The league has got away from us, but we always had this carrot and we wanted to show we’re a team that’s capable of being successful.

“It’s been a frustrating season for a number of reasons, but that’s all forgotten.

“The boys have given us everything they can, they’ve listened to us and stuck by us.”

Reflecting on Malin’s influence on the outcome of the final, MacDonald added “Logan Ross has been a big player for us throughout the season. It would have been a good moment for him.

“But Joe gets called Super Joe for a reason – he’s done it time and time again throughout his career and we’re delighted to see him do it again.”

Final of two halves

In the early stages, Malin made a superb stop at full stretch to tip away Aidan Sopel’s 25-yarder.

At the other end Paul Brindle did well on the right to tee up Tony Dingwall, who hit the right post from 12 yards with the goal gaping.

In the 21st minute, Malin made another excellent save down to his left to repel Willie West’s header from a Scott Barbour corner.

But just shy of the half-hour Fraserburgh did find the net. Scott Barbour cut in from the right and his left-foot shot from 20 yards crept into the bottom right corner beyond Malin’s despairing dive.

Scott Barbour celebrates scoring for Fraserburgh.

Before the first half was over, Malin blocked Paul Young’s attempt from a tight angle and also denied Ryan Sargent, who burst through two challenges to have a clear sight of goal.

Brora were on top at the start of the second period and equalised on 56 minutes. Brindle showed neat footwork on the right to create space and his low delivery was tucked into the bottom left corner by Tom Kelly.

As time ticked down, Malin pushed Sargent’s deflected shot to safety before the Cattachs had a couple of great chances in the dying embers.

Tom Kelly celebrates his goal for Brora.

Ali Sutherland flicked over the crossbar from close range after another right-wing Brindle cross and Broch goalkeeper Joe Barbour made a smart stop from Dingwall.

In the shoot-out, Kieran Simpson, West, Barbour and Sargent scored for Fraserburgh, but Butcher – who took their second spot-kick – saw his attempt saved by Malin high to his right.

That meant conversions from Dale Gillespie, Martin Maclean, Dingwall, Jordan MacRae and Mark Nicolson won it for Brora.

Broch wait goes on

Fraserburgh’s wait for a first Highland League Cup triumph since 2006 continues,

It’s the one trophy Mark Cowie hasn’t won as a manager, and he said: “We dominated first half and Brora dominated the second.

“I don’t want to be disrespectful, but I think we could have been out of sight at half-time.

“But one guy, who has proved he’s one of the best goalkeepers this league has ever seen, decided to turn up and made sure we weren’t out of sight.

“We looked to kick on in the second half and we didn’t – we let Brora come back into it.

“Joe’s done it for years and he’s one of the best goalies the league has seen.

Fraserburgh manager Mark Cowie, left.

“I’m not being disrespectful to their goalie who has been there all season, but if Joe isn’t there, we maybe go in 3-1 or 4-1 up at half-time.

“But at 1-0 it’s always on a knife-edge and Brora got their goal early enough.

“There was a spell Brora were running over us. For 20 minutes we couldn’t get near them.

“We got through that, but then didn’t have the final bit of quality to do something in the closing stages.

“Penalties are penalties… With two good goalies it’s a lottery and we’ve missed one, unfortunately.

“It (the Highland League Cup) does keep eluding us. I think both finals we’ve had in my time we could have done better with.

“The Formartine game (2018) we scored after a minute and didn’t kick on.

“This time we were in control first half, but then didn’t turn up second half.”


Brora Rangers (4-2-3-1) – Malin 8, Kelly 8, Nicolson 7, Williamson 7, A MacDonald 7; Maclean 8, Gillespie 7; Brindle 8, Sutherland 8, Dingwall 7; MacRae 7.

Subs not used – Hardie, Meekings, G MacDonald, Gamble, Wallace, MacLeod, Gillan.

Fraserburgh (4-4-2) – J Barbour 7, Buchan 8, Hay 7, Simpson 8, West 7; Watt 7 (Butcher 82), Young 7, Beagrie 7, Sopel 8; S Barbour 7, Sargent 7.

Subs not used – Davidson, Cowie, Wood, Bolton, Kelly, Hawkins, Aitken, Inglis.

Referee – Greg Soutar 7.

Man of the match – Joe Malin.