Airdrie United survived a brave fightback from 10-man Brechin to put themselves in the driving seat after the First Division play-off first leg.
Ian Harty scored twice from the penalty spot
Brechin were a goal and a man down after 14 minutes when David Ward was sent off for pulling down Ian Harty, who scored from the penalty spot.
Gary Twigg slotted in the second two minutes later from a Harty pass.
Harty scored his second penalty after being brought down by Scott Walker, who set up Iain Russell to fire the reply.
It was Brechin's just rewards for a second half during which the team finishing fourth in the Second Division pushed Brechin back into defence.
Russell had a great chance to get another goal back on the hour but fired straight at the goalkeeper.
But Airdrie, who finished second bottom in Division One, will start Saturday's second leg at Excelsion Stadium with a two-goal advantage.
Brechin manager John O'Neill: "It was a disappointing start - an interesting one considering some of the decisions made by the officials.
"We felt aggrieved at the two penalties and lost the second goal before we could make a substitution.
"But, in the second half, you saw a team that refused to be beaten and we can go to Airdrie still in the game.
"We have had one night to prepare for this game and the boys had to do a day's work today, while Airdrie, as a full-time club, have had three days to prepare."
Airdrie manager Kenny Black: "It was a very, very good start for us and, to go in 3-0 up at half-time, was magnificent.
"The worst thing for us was them having a man sent off and the half-time whistle going off.
"We did not use the one-man advantage and, overall, the second half was not good enough.
"But, if you had offered me 3-1 before the game, I would have taken it."
Brechin: Nelson, Murie, Ward, Scott Walker, Callaghan, Byers, Steven Ferguson, King (White 16), Smith (Johnson 90), Hampshire, Russell.
Subs Not Used: Hillcoat, Connolly, Richard Walker.
Sent Off: Ward (14). Booked: Scott Walker, Smith, White.
Goal: Russell 52.
Airdrie Utd: Robertson, Proctor, MacDonald (McKeown 88), McKenna, Lovering (Lukaszewski 46), Potter, McGowan, Taylor, Holmes (McDougall 80), Twigg, Harty.
Subs Not Used: Hollis, McPhee.
Booked: Lovering, McGowan, Taylor.
Goals: Harty 14, Twigg 16, Harty 22 pen.
Ref: Scott MacDonald