Sunday, August 12, 2012

Season 2012/2013: Match 3: Montrose 2 Clyde 3 (Irn-Bru SFL Division Three)

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Montrose, buoyed by an impressive start to the season that has seen them eliminate Highland League Inverurie Loco Works from the League Cup and Division One Cowdenbeath from the Challenge Cup, went into yesterday's match in a positive frame of mind.

Throw into the mix that the aggregate score from Clyde's previous five visits to Links Park was 22-3, and there could only be one winner.

I was so confident that Montrose would beat Clyde again that I did something that common sense normally prevents me from doing, and stuck money on a Montrose win. Not just a win - £10 on Montrose to win even after giving Clyde a 1-0 head start.

It all looked good in the first half hour, Lloyd Young firing home from 25 yards after 11 minutes, then Paul Watson volleying in from the same range after 25 minutes.

Montrose played sleek passing football, crossed dangerously and kept Clyde penned back in their own half. But for some unfortunate finishing, they could have gone in at the break leading by three or four.

Everything in the world was good, and my bet was a sure-fire winner.

Cue the second half. Montrose, having deployed their own brand of pass and move football in the first half, took it upon themselves to play long high balls to no-one in particular for the duration of the second period.

Everything that had been good about the Montrose side in the first half vanished. Clyde started seeing more and more of the ball, and Montrose became sloppy and looked less and less confident.

The rot truly began to set in just before the hour mark when former Annan man Bryan Gilfillan, playing as a trialist, was handed an easy finish when sent one-on-one with Montrose goalkeeper Sandy Wood.

Bad turned to worse four minutes later when John Neil latched onto a long ball over the top and fired into the empty net.

And the turnaround was complete 10 minutes from time when a neat Clyde passing move ended with Stuart McColm shooting into the bottom corner.

Gutting isn't the word. Montrose were so good in the first half that another 5-0 or 8-1 win wasn't unthinkable. But they were so poor in the second half that they could have shipped five or six themselves.

I can't understand why they went from passing the ball with confidence to resorting to the woeful and aimless punts up the park.

The team is short on personnel - Montrose could only name four substitutes yesterday, none of whom were called into action. Garry Wood played at centre back in place of Paul Lunan, while Screech Crawford was suspended and Jamie Winter's dodgy groin ensured he remained in the stand wearing a baseball cap.

It's a disappointing start to the season. 45 minutes in and Montrose were two points and two goals ahead of Rangers. By the time the 90 were up, they were a point behind and a goal worse off.

If we can't see out a match against Clyde when we're leading two nil, this is going to be a long, hard campaign.

Man of the match: In the first half, all of the Montrose players played well. Sandy Wood's shouting and command of his defence were impressive. Stephen McNally drove the team forward from right back. Lloyd Young and Scott Johnston were constant threats from midfield. Martin Boyle kept Clyde on the back foot. And Paul Watson and Craig McLeish continued to look like inspired signings. But in the second half, few of the players came out with pass marks. Unforced errors, aimless punts and misplaced passes were in abundance. Only Johnston and Watson continued to look the part. Overall, Watson gets my vote, giving a commanding performance at left back in the first half, chipping in with a peach of a goal, and attempting to keep the momentum going even after the tide turned in the second half.

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