Scorers: Brechin City – C Tapping (31); Stranraer – Donnelly (85)

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STRANRAER came within a whisker of snatching three points at Glebe Park after leaving it late.

The Blues trailed for nearly an hour but claimed a point when substitute Luke Donnelly popped up with a deserved equaliser.

Stevie Farrell made a trio of changes from the defeat to East Fife, with Grant Anderson, Chris McGowan and Donnelly dropping to the bench.

That meant first starts for Innes Cameron and Daniel Higgins, with Andy McDonald back in after a two-game ban.

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The Blues have been quick out of the blocks in recent weeks and very nearly broke the deadlock with the first chance of the game.

David Smith’s cross was inch-perfect for Cameron, whose header left former Stranraer goalkeeper Conor Brennan rooted to the spot.

The ball cannoned back off the post but the offside flag was already up.

Cameron, on loan from Kilmarnock, came close again moments later when Connor McManus’ corner seemed to hit him on the back in a packed penalty area before the loose ball was cleared.

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Brechin came back into the contest but it was not a game where either goalkeeper was truly tested.

That all changed on the half hour mark when the hosts found the net.

David Smith was penalised for a tackle as Brechin broke forward and Callum Tapping stepped up to curl home a sumptuous free-kick.

Darren Dods’ men almost doubled their advantage in first half stoppage time through Sean Burns but the full back lifted his shot over the crossbar.

Things had to change for the Blues to get back into the tie and it was no surprise to see a double change made.

Isaac Layne made way for Donnelly, with PJ Crossan also coming on for his debut in place of Higgins.

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Stranraer were committing men forward but it was proving a struggle to find a way through the Brechin defence, with Donnelly heading over just four minutes after coming off the bench.

As men were thrown forward, Brechin were being presented with more chances but Currie was too often not tested.

One of their best chances came from a teasing ball from Kalvin Orsi, with David Brownlie doing exceptionally well to hook the ball over the bar inside his own six yard box.

Then, with eight minutes, they were presented with their best chance.

Donnelly’s shot was blocked and Brechin burst down the left with Burns again coming close.

This time, Kyle Turner managed to get back to put him under pressure and the shot was again lifted over the bar.

And so Stranraer found a leveller with five minutes left.

Crossan’s cross from the left was only half cleared and Donnelly was lurking to smash home a first-time shot.

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It was like a switch being flicked, with Stranraer all of a sudden having all the momentum and throwing everything at the Brechin goal.

Brownlie fired a warning over the bar before a serious call for a penalty when the ball was handled in the box.

Then, finally, there was a glorious chance for Crossan.

The debutant had impressed with his pace and willingness to run at the defenders.

A scramble in the box saw the ball fall to the substitute but Brennan did exceptionally well to spread himself and block with his legs.

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In the end, a point apiece was probably a fair result, with Stranraer more than happy to score a goal and take a point at Glebe Park.

Now, attention turns to Dumbarton, who visit Stair Park in seven days time.

Brechin City: Brennan, McGeever, Spark, Burns, Blues, Orsi, C Tapping, E Smith, Morena, Jackson, Hendry (Melingui 84).
Not used: Hill, J Tapping, Dailly, Sinclair, Lynas and O’Neill.

Stranraer: Currie, Higgins (Donnelly 55), McDonald, Brownlie, D Smith, Hamill, Cummins, McManus, Turner, Cameron (Anderson 71), Layne (Crossan 55).
Not used: McGowan, I Smith, Diver and Avci.

Referee: John McKendrick
HT: 1-0
Attendance: 374

Photos: Bill McCandlish

Gallery

SPFL 3L1 6474

POS
TEAM PLD
PTS
1 Arbroath 17 45
2 Raith Rovers 17 32
3 East Fife 17 26
4 Forfar Athletic 17 24
5 Montrose 17 21
6 Airdrieonians 17 20
7 Stranraer 16 20
8 Dumbarton 17
18
9 Brechin City 16 16
10 Stenhousemuir 17 15