Edinburgh City defender Joe Mbu admitted it was a bitter pill to swallow after losing out in an evenly matched game.
City suffered their first defeat of the season despite Ian McFarland giving them the lead. But three first-half strikes from Colin Williamson, Gavin Morrison and Andrew Greig gave the Highland League side the upper hand.
Ross Allum was shown a straight red in the second half before John Dunn’s volley gave City hope, but Brora were able to hold on and book their place in today’s fourth round draw.
Mbu said: “We scored a magnificent goal to start with but conceded a poor one from a set-piece. There’s nothing we could do about the second – we’ve had a couple like that ourselves with the free-kick that’s come off the wall and gone in. The third goal, again it’s that sharp pass that’s killed us every time they’ve attacked, so it’s a hard one to take.”
City got off to the best start imaginable with a goal inside two minutes. McFarland picked up possession on the edge of the box before curling a wonderful effort over Brora goalkeeper Joe Malin and into the top corner.
The lead only lasted four minutes however. Zander Sutherland’s corner was met at the back post by Colin Williamson, whose downward header bounced up into the roof of the net to restore parity.
Brora took the initiative following their equaliser and put City under pressure. The dangerous Andrew Greig skipped past a challenge on the edge of the area before curling just wide from 18 yards.
The visitors were ahead 11 minutes later in the most fortunate manner. Gavin Morrison’s free-kick from nearly 30 yards took a massive deflection off the wall, completely wrong footing Andrew Stobie in the City goal and nestled in the corner.
Rangers almost doubled their advantage two minutes later when former Inverness CT man Ross Tokely’s back post header was deflected just wide following another Morrison free-kick.
Greig came close again for David Kirkwood’s team just before the half-hour, his low shot rippling the side netting from an acute angle. The Brora winger made no mistake two minutes before half-time. Sutherland’s searching ball put him in behind the City defence, and the No. 11 powered the ball home from close range to extend the lead at the break.
The second period didn’t begin as frantically as the first, but the home side’s task was made considerably harder when they were reduced to ten men. Ross Allum kicked out in frustration at Sutherland, and was instantly dismissed on 63 minutes.
Despite this, John Dunn handed Gary Jardine’s team a lifeline with 19 minutes remaining. Malin managed to punch a corner to the edge of the area, but Dunn returned the ball with interest, sending a first-time volley into the bottom corner to make it 2-3.
Jardine’s team threw men forward in search of an equaliser, but Brora’s experience showed as they dealt with City’s pressure effectively to avoid a replay and edge themselves into the next round.
Jardine was disappointed to exit the competition, but will ensure his players learn from the experience: “It’s a sore one, but I’ve watched Brora and knew how good they are in the opposition’s half of the park, how quick they close you down, and it’s probably a pace we’ve not been used to.
“I don’t think we were too bad and we were good going forward, but we got caught out with the pace of the game. We couldn’t play the passes we wanted to and there were a few errors.
“We were always going to get beat at some point, but it’s how we learn from that and what can we take from it to make us better. I’ll take it as a learning curve. We’ll now play teams of a higher standard in friendlies to make my players that bit sharper. We kick on and hopefully get the chance to play Brora again at the end of the season.”
Edinburgh City: Stobie, Caddow (Wilson 86), Donaldson, MacDonald, Paterson (Osborne 31), Paterson, Mbu, McFarland, Gair, Allum, Vanson (Deniran 69).
Brora Rangers: Malin, Houston, Williamson, Tokely, Ross, Morrison, MacLean (Kettlewell 78), Gillespie, Sutherland (Graham 78), Mackay, Greig.