Brechin City v Saints Preview

Last updated : 09 January 2009 By Stuart Gillespie
Since Gus MacPherson took charge just over five years ago, we have been put out of the League and Scottish Cups by the following lower league sides: Forfar Athletic, Gretna, East Fife, St. Johnstone and Dunfermline Athletic. It is an unacceptable record that has seen us fail to make it as far as the quarter-finals of the League Cup or as far as the semi-finals of the Scottish. The sorest for me was in 2006. We lost to media darlings Gretna, missing out on a semi-final clash with Dundee. Had we won that - and remember, we won the league and League Challenge Cup that season - we would have been in the final against Hearts. Considering they only beat Gretna on penalties, it could be argued that we had a real chance to win the Scottish Cup in 2006 and blew it. What's perhaps makes things even more frustrating is that, while we've been suffering embarrassing defeats, the likes of Queen of the South, St. Johnstone, Gretna and Dunfermline have all enjoyed at least one trip to Hampden - possibly two if they managed to make the final.

So, a run in one of the proper cups is long, long overdue - especially after last season's disappointment of losing a quarter-final replay to the Fake Saints at Love Street. Last season's run saw us play two games on Tayside, and we're in that area again tomorrow when we travel to Brechin. This should be good news for Andy Dorman. The midfielder scored in both of our games there last season, plus against Dundee United and Aberdeen (it's not that much further) in the league. Maybe the area reminds him of New England back in the States. Whatever the reason, hopefully he'll find this form again tomorrow and inspire us to another victory after his fine displays in December.

For once, it is incredibly easy to guess who our strikeforce will be - Derek Wyness and Jim Hamilton. This has nothing to do with the fact they've started the last five games and everything to do with suspensions for Billy Mehmet and Craig Dargo picked up in last season's competition. Wyness and Hamilton have done well in recent weeks but haven't scored since the first game of December - the last time we had no other choice but to play them. Tom Brighton will be on the bench, but if last week's short display is anything to go by this is hardly a comfort. With the youngsters away in Portugal, it's possible we could have just three forwards in tomorrow's squad.

It'll be interesting to see if there are any other changes. There's a chance new signing Steven Thomson could make his debut, although it's likely he'll be riding pine on the bench. One slightly more likely change is introducing Steven Robb in place of Stephen McGinn on the left of midfield in a bid to provide a bit of pace and width. McGinn hasn't done badly in recent weeks considering he has been played out of position, but he struggled last week and should maybe be dropped. With Hugh Murray set to be suspended soon, Gary Mason could be given his first start for some time. Will Haining and Stephen O'Donnell are injured, while Tonet is not but is lacking match practice.

Brechin will be hoping to benefit from new manager syndrome tomorrow, with Jim Duffy being appointed the boss at Glebe Park earlier today. Duffy has been out of a job since being sacked by Dundee over two and a half years ago for daring to take them to the top of the first division after a couple of games. He has been a regular visitor to Love Street through his BBC work so will know all about us. However, it could be a good thing that he's in charge - Kevin McAllister had been caretaker boss for a month or so and inflicted a fair bit of misery on us while he was playing for Falkirk.

There are a few recognisable names in the Brechin squad. Craig Nelson is a keeper that has been around for years and spent several seasons in the top flight with a number of clubs. Even more familiar is John Baird, who was with Saints until the summer of 2007 when he signed for Montrose. He banged in 21 goals last season, making many fans wonder if we should have kept a hold of him. This year hasn't been quite as productive and he was loaned to City a few months ago. He's yet to score for his new club, so it's written for him to grab the winner tomorrow.

I don't think that will happen. Neither do I think we'll have to face another trip to Love Street. Instead, I think we'll win to spark a run that will see us go all the way to Hampden.