THE Brandanes left Glasgow empty-handed on Saturday after conceding a 90th-minute winner in a 4-3 defeat to Drumchapel Amateurs – but the Rothesay men could take great heart after coming agonisingly close to ending their hosts’ season-long unbeaten league run.
All seven goals were scored during a remarkable second half which saw the Brandanes level at 2-2 with just five minutes left – and in which only the width of a post prevented Sean Lawrence grabbing a winner.
The Danes went into Saturday’s match on the back of successive home wins over Bearsden and East Kilbride, and started the match on the offensive, with Lawrence, Darren Harper, Wes Pattison and Jordan Selkirk putting together some great passing moves and playing fast, attacking football, while Drumchapel were content to hit on the break.
Harper saw a 20-yard shot fly just over the crossbar with the first real chance of the game before Lawrence fired just past the Drumchapel keeper’s left-hand post from just inside the area.
The best chance of the half, though, fell to Pattison, who was put clean through on the Drumchapel goal but shot just wide of the target when one-on-one with the keeper.
At the other end the makeshift Danes rearguard, with coach Neil Whitelaw stepping back to centre half alongside Brad Davies, coped well with most of Drumchapel’s occasional breakaways, though keeper Ben Hatton pulled off a couple of good saves to keep the scoresheet blank at half-time.
The Rothesay men, though, started the second half the same way they had begun the first – and they took the lead with their first attack of the second period, on 48 minutes, when Harper beat two men before shooting low into the corner of the net.
At that stage the Danes looked as if they could go on and control the rest of the game, but Drumchapel were keen to demonstrate that their unbeaten run since the start of the season was no accident – and the home side levelled the game on 54 minutes when Hatton was left helpless by a superb chip into the top corner of the net.
And Drumchapel kept pushing forward in search of a second, putting the Rothesay defence under increasing pressure – and duly taking the lead with a quarter of an hour to play thanks to a low free kick into the bottom corner.
Had the game taken place only a few weeks ago the Danes might well have thrown in the towel at this point, but instead they hit straight back at their hosts and pulled level at 2-2 just three minutes later, Pattison going on a fine run into the box before slipping the ball underneath the Drumchapel keeper.
At the other end, though, Hatton kept the Danes in the game with two superb saves worthy of a much greater stage – first diving at full stretch to tip a free kick over the bar when the Drumchapel attacker was convinced he’d scored, and then a magnificent leap to push a header from just six yards on to the crossbar.
Sadly there was nothing the Danes keeper could do with just four minutes left when a moment’s hesitation in defence allowed a Drumchapel forward a free header from a corner to put his team 3-2 up, despite Stuart McKechnie’s best efforts in trying to clear the ball off the line.
But still the Rothesay men refused to lie down – and only 60 seconds later the game was level at 3-3 after Whitelaw’s free kick into the box was flicked on by Pattison, and though Selkirk’s first attempt was beaten away by the Drumchapel keeper, the striker remained alert and made no mistake from the rebound.
And the frantic conclusion to the game showed no sign of petering out as the Danes went in search of a winner, Lawrence watching in agony as his shot came off the outside of the post after a great run into the box.
But that was nothing compared to the heartbreak which hit the visitors in the 90th minute, when Drumchapel caught the Danes defence napping from a short corner kick and a home player was allowed to run in on goal and shoot low past Hatton for the winner.
Player-coach Neil Whitelaw said: “It was a good team display from the boys – we were very unlucky not to win, but we’ll take a lot out of it. Everybody did really well.”
* This Saturday, April 9, the Brandanes will hope to continue their recent improvement in form in a Caledonian League match at home to the other unbeaten first division club, Dalziel HSFP.
Kick-off is at 2.30pm and players should meet no later than 1.15pm.