Saturday, October 25, 2008

Season 2008/2009: Match 11: Montrose v Huntly

They say a week's a long time in football, and today seemed to prove the point.

After last week's inept performance against Dumbarton, Montrose today eased into the third round of the Scottish Cup with a win over high-scoring Highland League Huntly.

Since last week's match, Montrose have appointed former Dundee United and Celtic defender David Hannah as caretaker player-manager, sent last season's top goalscorer John Baird on loan to Second Division side (and local rivals) Brechin City and taken Calum Smith in the opposite direction.

If last week saw Montrose lacking focus, this week they coped admirably with a feisty Huntly side. Hannah selected himself at the heart of defence, and remained a vocal figure throughout.

But on the day, it was the weather that was the talking point. Montrose played against the gale-force wind in the first half, a wind so strong that one goal kick flew back over goalkeeper Greg Kelly's head and out for a corner. Huntly also tested their luck from long range on several occasions, with three shots from 40 or 50 yards coming close in the first half.

The first half was extended by almost five minutes due to the number of dead balls delayed while the kick takers attempted to get the ball to sit still long enough for them to take the kick.

Referee Mat Northcroft, who spent most of the game behaving in an over-pernickety fashion given the conditions, engaged in a "wind inspection" during the break, finally concluding that abandoning the match wasn't necessary.

And so Montrose, already ahead despite playing against the conditions, saw out the match with the wind at their backs. A 2-0 win over a side scoring for fun in the Highland League was a good result for Hannah's first match in charge of the Links Park size.

The two men who were arguably the biggest influence on Montrose's promotion push last season, manager Jim Weir and goalscorer John Baird, have gone, but the Hannah reign has at least started in a winning way. With the gaffer on the pitch, Montrose seemed more assured of themselves than in recent weeks, and new loanee Calum Smith, signed as part of the deal that took Baird to Glebe Park, looked lively throughout.

Yep, a week's a long time in football.

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