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Oleg Zhigalov opens the scoring to send us on our way to the Fifth Round of the Cup the last time the two sides met.

Brook Street comfortably saw off Italian visitors Livorno Calcio 4Mori at New Home Park this morning, with Fraser Carragher netting a hat-trick, but winger Liam Christie faces an anxious wait to see if he will be fit enough for inclusion in the squad to play Kobis in the Division III qualifier at the weekend.

“Liam twisted his ankle quite badly, so in all honesty he’s probably doubtful for Saturday already”, admitted Eike Alanne after the final whistle.

“It’s just one of those things”, he added. “The doc doesn’t think it’s broken, but we’ve sent him off for an x-ray just to be sure. Either way, it looks as if he’ll miss out”.

Saturday’s qualifier will be the second time the sides have faced each other, the first being a Scottish Cup Fifth Round tie twelve seasons ago. A repeat of the scoreline that day, a 2-0 away win thanks to goals from Oleg Zhigalov and Onésimo Murube, would certainly be most welcome.

“That was a long time ago and the teams that walk out on Saturday will be totally different to those that played in the Cup game. That said however, I’ve discovered that Attila Gyöngyösi came on as a second-half substitute and Ezequiel Alexandrino watched the match from the bench! They’ve both come a long way since then”.

The coach however played down his side’s chances saying, “They’re a very good side. We’ll give it a real good shot, but we’re travelling more in hope than expectation”.

He continued, “Our main aim for the game is to gauge just how far we’ve come this season, and to get an idea of how far we’ve got to go to match a Division III side. We know we’re building a potentially very good side, but we’ll be able to see how that pans out in a competitive match”.

Bringing the interview to a close he said, “The players are all very excited, and they’re taking great confidence from the team spirit we have here. We’ll give a good account of ourselves, everyone can be assured of that”.

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Adam Humphrey capitalises on a mix-up in the Saints’ defence to send us on our way.

Brook Street stormed to an emphatic 6-0 win away to MacAuleys Saints which secured the Division IV.13 league title at the first time of asking, and with it, brings a Division III Play-Off next weekend against Kobis.

Brook Street got off to a flying start as young Adam Humphrey pounced on a defensive mistake to fire the New Home Park side into the lead with only five minutes on the clock.

The visitors continued to pile on the pressure and only an outstanding save from Saints’ keeper Florian Pułka prevented Andrew Cleary from increasing the lead, but it was only a matter of time before Brook Street did find away through.

And when it came, it was a real beauty. Alex Clapperton had been tormenting Saints’ left-back Arthur Moore throughout the opening period, and with twenty minutes gone, he left the defender for dead before swinging over a teasing, tempting cross which Adam Humphrey met full on the volley to almost lifted the rigging off the goal frame.

Brook Street had their tails up by now and went straight for the kill. Andrew Cleary hit his twenty-second goal of the season in the twenty-sixth minute, and Phil Mullally all but made the game safe eight minutes before the break.

With the Championship in the bag by half-time, all that remained for Brook Street was to improve their goal difference to try to secure a more favourable play-off draw, and the visitors wasted no time in setting about their task.

With just two minutes played after the re-start Andrew Cleary rifled home his second goal of the game to make it 5-0 and secure his place as the league’s top scorer. Then, with sixty-eight minutes on the clock, it fell to Fraser Caragher to complete the scoring with a drilled shot following another defensive error.

So, next Saturday Brook Street will face Kobis in the Division III play-off, but when interviewed after the celebrations had moved on to local hostelries or the fans had headed back down the road, the coach reckons that this match has come too early for his side.

“We’ve been playing to a gameplan which is focussed around building a side capable of challenging in Division II at least. That, I feel, will take around two to three seasons, so while it’s fantastic that we have won the title, if I’m being brutally honest, I think we’ll struggle against Kobis. They are a very strong side in what looks like a really tough league. We’ve played a few of the sides there before, usually in the Scottish Cup, so we are well aware of how good they are”.

He continued, “We’ll give it our best shot, but I think it’s a step too far for us, especially as we’re playing at their ground. It’s been a great season for us in the end, and given time, this can become a great team.

Adam Humphrey is now in line for a starting place on Saturday following another brace.

Brook Street’s reserves may have lost 5-3 to Toltecs Tollan in a rainy Bucharest this morning, but coach Eike Alanne wasn’t too disappointed with the display.

“I think the players showed great character and determination to fight back from 4-1 down to get back to 4-3 before the home site scored what proved to be the decisive goal”, he said.

“Having said that however, although they were a good side, we should never have given them the space for their goals. That’s something we clearly need to work on”.

The coach was full of praise for teenage striker Adam Humphrey who netted another brace and has almost certainly played himself into a starting place for Saturday.

“Adam has been playing exceptionally well, and deserves his chance”, said Eike. “The trouble is, the other two strikers are playing well too, so that gives me a headache that I’m more than happy to have”.

Toltecs opened the scoring in the thirteenth minute through Valentino Roethlisberger, but Brook Street hit right back and Adam Humphrey hammered home the equaliser in spectacular fashion with a diving header.

Toltecs’ Mihai Onode was forced to leave the game in the seventeenth minute, but with no substitutes named, they were forced to continue with ten men. Not that this appeared to hamper the Romanians, who hit a second thanks to Ştefan-Andrei Bărcan in thirty-six minutes before Mircea Burjan made it 3-1 a minute later.

Things appeared to be going from bad to worse when Bărcan hit his second of the game in the sixty-seventy minute, but Brook Street rather than folding completely, hit back with two goals in as many minutes, Humphrey in seventy-six, and Fraser Carragher in seventy-seven to put the hosts under intense pressure.

Toltecs were not to be bossed around though, and with Brook Street pressing for the equaliser, they broke quickly in a counter-attack, and Roethlisberger hit his second of the game with thirteen minutes to go to kill the game.

Fraser Caragher fires us back into the lead in extra-time.

Brook Street’s reserves “got an excellent workout this morning”, according to Coach Eike Alanne, eventually running out 5-3 winners after extra time against Stella Rossa Firenze at New Home Park.

Twice the Italians had been in front, but the predominantly young Brook Street side showed great character to fight back.

“The longer the match went on, the better and stronger we got. Red Star just couldn’t keep up with us in extra time”, said Eike. “That is proof if any were needed that our training regime is working well”, he added.

“We were a little wasteful in front of goal, but we’re definitely heading in the right direction”.
The Italians took the lead in the seventh minute through Augusto Bragadin, but Adam Humphrey quickly had us back on level terms.

Frank Boszhart fired the Reds back in front after twenty-two minutes, which remained the position until Lewis Espley tied things up again around the hour mark.

However, Brook Street had their tails up and Matt Cocker fired home in sixty-six minutes to put the home side in front for the first time. That lead lasted only six minutes before Mauro Goretti coolly rolled in the equaliser.

The match then became something of a midfield stalemate at this point with both sides cancelling each other out, and there was an air of inevitability that the match was heading for extra-time.

And it was the home side who would prove to be the stronger in the extra half hour.

Fraser Caragher, a second half substitute for the injured Richard Gabriel, drew first blood, rifling home an unstoppable shot three minutes into extra-time.

This seemed to knock the stuffing out of the Reds, and Brook Street killed the game just two minutes later when Sam Ferretto rounded the keeper to secure the win.

Eike Alanne latches onto a perfect through ball and side-foots it into the Scourie net to double our lead.

Brook Street stormed to the top of the league with an emphatic 4-1 win at FC Scourie. The New Home Park side were fast out of the blocks, and within three minutes were 2-0 up thanks to strikes from Andrew Cleary and Eike Alanne. Andrew added his second with only eleven minutes played, as the home fans
headed for the exits in droves.

With the match already all but won, Brook Street clearly took their foot off the pedal, but despite this still managed to add a fourth seven minutes after the break when Fraser Carragher slotted home a controversial penalty.

Peter McCandless reduced the lead with nine minutes to go, which gave the home side renewed heart. However despite some late scares, the Brook Street goal remained intact to run out comfortable winners.

“We were excellent today and everyone played their part”, said Eike at full-time. “We broke with speed and purpose, finished clinically and pressured their players when we didn’t have the ball. We also tracked back well and gave them as little room as possible in which to play”, he added.

On his side going top he said, “Yes, it’s nice, but it’s too early to be starting to look at titles and the like. Anyway, it is too early for this side to go up; we’d just come straight back down, so I’d rather we consolidated this season and perhaps next too before mounting a serious challenge the season after next”.

While this may disappoint some of the fans who are looking for a swift return to Division III, the coach is working to a set plan, and is determined to stick to it.

“We’ve got a long-term plan and we want to see this through properly. The basis is to build a side which will take the club as high as possible and be able to compete at that level. Anything we gain in the short-term could work against our long-term goals, so we’ve asked from day one that the fans are patient”.

He continued, “I have to commend the fans for being very patient with the side, especially when we went through that run of bad results, but now that we’ve hit the top of the league, it might be more difficult for some of them to keep sight of the bigger picture. That’s entirely understandable, as is the desire to get back to Division III, but patience here will be the key”.

Matt Cocker slams in his second goal of the afternoon to make the score 3-0.

Matt Cocker slams in his second goal of the afternoon to make the score 3-0.

In easily one of their best league performances in recent times, Brook Street routed league leaders FC Scourie 7-1 at New Home Park. The Highlanders had been unbeaten up until this afternoon, but they were no match for a rampant Brook Street side who are now right back in the mix.

Andrew Cleary opened the scoring in the eighteenth minute, and a quick double from Matt Cocker had Brook Street three-up inside forty minutes. Kembele Madimba reduced the lead just before the break, but Fraser Carragher restored the three-goal advantage four minutes after the re-start, before three goals in quick succession around the hour mark from Attila Gyöngyösi, Krsto Grubić and Alex Clapperton wrapped up the win and killed the game stone dead.

“My players were absolutely fantastic”, beamed a clearly delighted Eike Alanne at the post-match press briefing. “We dominated the match from start to finish, and our passing and finishing were simply outstanding. We showed everyone just how good a side we are”.

He added, “We switched the line-up and formation slightly and it paid dividends. We’ve been caught out in the last couple of games by teams packing the midfield, so we learned from our mistakes and the players rose to the occasion today”.

“We’re now right back in contention in the title race, and while promotion is not our aim, we naturally want to finish as high as we can. Whoever wins this league will not gain automatic promotion, so we’ve got to give ourselves the best possible chance to secure a lucrative play-off match”. He added, “We’ve blown the title race wide open, and it’s up to us to now capitalise on what we have achieved today”.

Lewis Espley watches as his eighth minute shot hits the net to register his first senior goal and open the scoring.

Lewis Espley watches as his eighth minute shot hits the net to register his first senior goal and open the scoring.

Brook Street swept into the Third Round of the Diddy Cup this afternoon with an emphatic 9-0 rout of Sean Kingston XI in Fife. Lewis Espley opened the scoring in eight minutes with his first senior goal in only his second match, and further goals from Eike Alanne, Adam Humphrey, Fraser Carragher and Phil Mullally had the game won by the time half an hour had passed.

Sam Ferretto hit number six with fifty-two minutes gone and Phil Mullally fired in his second of the game in the sixty-ninth minute, and Fraser Carragher got his second from the penalty spot midway through the half. Alex Clapperton wrapped up the scoring in the seventy-seventh minute as Brook Street looked to save themselves for Saturday’s league game.

“We were in complete control from start to finish”, said a very pleased Eike Alanne afterwards, “and I don’t think we were ever under any pressure”.

“We played some good football, and took almost all our chances. I can’t ask for better than that.”

He continued, “I’m really pleased for Lewis [Espley] who got his first senior goal today. He took it exceptionally well under pressure, and to curl it into the postage stamp with the outside of his boot showed fantastic technique”.

“Young Adam Humphrey also hit his third goal of the season, and you can see the confidence in the younger players growing. All our hard work is paying dividends”.

Brook street’s reward was another away tie, this time away in the Highlands to Division V side, FC Bardos.

Adam Humphrey creates a piece of history, scoring his first senior goal to make the score 3-0

Adam Humphrey creates a piece of history, scoring his first senior goal to make the score 3-0

Brook Street stormed into the Scottish Cup second round this afternoon with an emphatic 8-0 demolition of Mauchline United. Eike Alanne’s side lined up 3-5-2 with recent signings Richard Gabriel and Adam Humphrey both in the starting line-up.

Brook Street quickly set about their business and within eight minutes were 1-0 up, Nicky Breaden thundering the ball into the United net. When Sam Ferretto was up-ended just inside the box with twenty minutes on the clock, the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Fraser Carragher stepped up and calmly rolled the ball home, sending the home keeper the wrong way.

Five minutes later and it was 3-0. Some fine movement down the left wing saw the ball cut back to debutante Adam Humphrey and the teenager drilled the ball home like a veteran to net his senior goal.

Then, just three minutes later, Brook Street were awarded their second penalty of the game. Fraser Carragher stepped up and slammed an unstoppable penalty into the top left corner, once again sending the keeper the wrong way.

Brook Street had the match won by then, but added a fifth goal eleven minutes before the break. Alex Clapperton was announced as the scorer as the home fans headed en masse for the exits.

Despite the match being won, Brook Street pressed forward in the second half and made it 6-0 on the hour mark when Nicky Breaden capitalised on a slip-up in the home defence to slide the ball home.

Within the next six minutes, Brook Street ran riot and netted a further two goals. With sixty-four minutes played, Sam Ferretto latched onto a magnificent through ball and lashed it into the net, then two minutes later Krsto Grubić made it 8-0, after a well-rehearsed set piece move left him with the easiest of tap-ins.

The players were obviously told to ‘take it easy’ from then on in as the tempo visibly dropped, to save their energy for Saturday’s league opener.

“The game was won, so there was no point in doing anything stupid”, said Eike at the post-match press conference. “Picking up an injury which could have put a player out of Saturday’s match would have been totally pointless and potentially costly, so with the game won we told them to slow down”.

Asked how he felt about the performance, he replied, “I think we were very professional in the way we approached the match. We got the win, and we did so playing attractive football. I can’t ask for more”.

“We had a young side out there today, and two players making their debuts. We still won convincingly and as far as I’m concerned, I’m delighted with the performance of all the players. Ok, there will be days when we don’t play this well, but that’s only to be expected”.

Asked specifically about the debuts for Richard and Adam he replied, “Both had very good games. Richard didn’t have a lot to do, but when called into action he dealt easily with everything that came his way. Adam took his goal really well and although he tired later on, he acquitted himself very well too. Once he grows a bit and fills out, you can see he’s going to be a handful for defenders”.

Brook Street’s reward for the win is another away game, this time to face NDW FC in the Highlands.

Keeper Jim Barnstaple makes a scoring outfield debut in this morning's friendly match.

Keeper Jim Barnstaple makes a scoring outfield debut in this morning’s friendly match.

A short-handed Brook Street side, with a number of players playing out of position, this morning defeated Italian Serie V side MARECHIARHO 3-2 at New Home Park in the final warm-up before the new season starts.

Brook Street kicked-off with only ten players on the field and with Fraser Carragher in midfield, Alex Clapperton partnering Andrew Cleary up front, plus Matt Cocker and keeper Jim Barnstaple on the wings. And it was Jim Barnstaple who grabbed the headlines by opening the scoring.

“The look on Jim’s face when the ball hit the net will live with me until the day I die”, laughed Eike afterwards. “I think he was as gob-smacked as everyone else in the stadium when the ball hit the net! I don’t know if he wanted to apologise to the MARECHIARHO keeper or what!”

Phil Mullally doubled the lead in the twenty-second minute and with that, Brook Street seemed content to knock the ball about. This almost proved to be costly in the last few minutes of the half when Ezequiel Alexandrino had to make a fantastic fingertip save and a block in quick succession in order to preserve Brook Street’s two-goal advantage.

The visitors pressed in the second half looking to capitalise on any enforced errors as they looked to get back into the game, and their efforts paid dividends in the sixty-ninth minute when Salvatore Facheris pounced to make the score 2-1.

However, any hope of pushing for an equaliser were quickly dashed as Andrew Cleary restored Brook Street’s two-goal advantage straight from the re-start.

Back came the visitors, and only a breathtaking stop from Ezequiel Alexandrino prevented them from reducing the lead again with seventy-three minutes gone. But he was powerless to prevent Ettore Nasuti scoring the Italian side’s second goal with ten minutes to go.

Brook Street had their backs to the wall for those final ten minutes, however they held firm to record the win and completed their pre-season build up unbeaten.

“I was pleased with the workout my players received today. They had to scrap for everything”, said Eike when he spoke afterwards.

“We did manage to score three good goals, but we were slack with our defending and paid the price for that twice”, he continued. “If we do that in a competitive match we’ll be punished, so we’ve got to work on that to eliminate the silly mistakes”.

“That said”, he added, “we’ve had three good wins in our close-season programme, so I think we’re probably in good enough shape for the forthcoming league campaign”.

However, he concluded by saying, “We’re not aiming to win the league this season. That is not part of the plan, as I think we need at least two or three seasons, maybe even four, to get everything in place”.

“I’m not saying it will necessarily take that long, but everyone is going to have to be patient”.

Lachlan MacKinnon blasts home his first senior goal following a mix-up in the visitors' defence.

Lachlan MacKinnon blasts home his first senior goal following a mix-up in the visitors’ defence.

Brook Street’s reserves fought back from being behind twice to defeat Brazilian visitors Bambala F.C 3-2 this morning to record their first win of the season.

Bohumil Winnen stunned the home side with the opener after only two minutes, but with his first ever senior goal, Lachlan MacKinnon levelled in the twenty-third minute.

Bambala hit the front again five minutes from the break through Joãozinho Kühl, but Brook Street struck right back, Matt Cocker being the man on target.

Fraser Carragher rattled the frame of the goal with a peach of a free-kick after sixty-eight minutes, but Brook Street were right on target five minutes later when from a cross from the right wing, Sam Ferretto thundered what was to prove the decisive volley home.

“It was good to record a win”, admitted Leoš Loos who added, “as we’ve been on the wrong end of some heavy defeats in this season’s friendly programme”.

“We rode our luck at times and had Jim Barnstaple not been on his game today, we could have easily lost”. He continued, “That said, we’ve hit the woodwork twice, so I guess it all levels itself out”.

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