Saturday, October 27, 2012

Season 2012/2013: Match 8: Montrose 2 Elgin City 2 (Irn-Bru Scottish Football League Division Three)

Odin having once again ignored my prayers either for A) Ice giants to be gone by kick-off at today's Third Division clash or B) For the match itself to be cancelled so I could stay at home and play Playstation without feeling guilty, I trudged to Links Park hoping for a win but expecting the more typical defeat.

There are a few reasons why Scottish people should stop playing football, chief among them being that we're shite at it and our weather doesn't lend itself to outdoor-based activities on approximately 364.5 of our days each year. The chances of one of the good half days coinciding with a Montrose fixture are always slim.

Nonetheless, Montrose and Elgin braved the frozen steppes of Eastern Angus for what could loosely be termed a football match. Bereft of the suspended Stephen McNally, Stuart Garden allowed bravery to override common sense, selecting Alan Campbell and his 73-year-old legs at right back, at least giving the 346 assembled supporters the hope that they might see an elderly arthritic gentleman rip himself in half attempting to keep pace with a winger roughly 84 times faster than himself.

Montrose looked lively enough in the opening spell, although any team relying on Leighton McIntosh to score goals is always going to face slim pickings. Elgin had the ball in the net after seven minutes, but theatrical referee David Somers (who lent his performance a degree of pantomime with a mime-based repertoire that echoed Ramiro Gonzalez's finest work) ruled that there had been a foul in the build-up.

Elgin took the huff and took it out on Montrose, thanks to Paul 'Lurch' Lunan and his multi-haircut oblonged head forgetting they were supposed to be defending. Lurch had the best view in the Basinside Bernabeu as Stuart Leslie jinked into the box and slipped a low shot straight through Sandy Wood to open the scoring.

There's an old saying that runs along the lines of "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me". Sandy Wood's version is "Make me look like a useless lump of a keeper once, shame on me. Try it a second time and I'll empty you in the box you wee prick".

Just nine minutes after opening the scoring, Leslie was through on goal again, but this time, as he took the ball around the goalkeeper, Wood caught the striker's ankle with his hand. Professional foul, straight red card, penalty kick.

David Crawford, expecting to do nothing more strenuous during the match than feed Lee Wilkie the raw meat that keeps him youthful looking but insane, had turned up wearing his mum's tights, what with there being snow and everything. As a result, he looked even more of a fanny than usual when he came striding onto the pitch to replace Sentoff Wood and Substituted Morton.

I am legally obliged at this point to use the words: "The substitute goalkeeper's first touch of the ball was to pick it out of the net", Moore sending him the wrong way from the spot.

Those pessimists/realists/people who have seen Montrose attempt to play football before realised that the match was over, and I began to weigh up the merits of sitting in a cold concrete shed against going home and having Little Jocklette demand I read her the same story book 3,465 times every hour.

Against my better judgement, I decided to stick it out and subject myself to the athletic endeavours on the field and the quality banter in the stand (I use both terms loosely).

And despite their numerical disadvantage, Montrose actually began to find a way back, thanks in no small part to the introduction of flat-faced assassin Garry Wood. The big striker gave a tremendous shift as a human battering ram, allowing Leighton McIntosh more space to do his thing (run around a lot not scoring goals). Ominously for Elgin, Jamie Winter had eaten his half-time tray of pies and was beginning to hone his sights on goal.

It was Wood who gave the first glimmer of hope, collecting a pass from Johnston wide on the left and launching a sweet half volley over John Gibson and into the net.

But referee Somers hadn't completed his routine, and decided to upstage the home side by awarding a penalty to Elgin immediately afterwards, having adjudged Moore flicking the ball against Terry Masson's arm to be worthy of a spot kick.

Moore stepped up to the spot for a second time and this time sent a feeble effort almost straight at Crawford.

Montrose were galvanised and pressed forward. But the clock continued to tick (as clocks have a habit of doing), and two minutes into stoppage time, it looked to be all over for Montrose. Then they were awarded a free kick 30-odd yards from goal.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. The pie grease congealing nicely in his arteries, Jamie Winter stepped up, watched as the ball was rolled back to him and launched a howitzer of a strike directly into the top corner of the net. Then decided to get it right up Ross Jack by way of celebration.

It was no more than Montrose deserved for a gritty second half performance when a man down. If they could play like this every week, talk of a play-off place wouldn't be the stuff of jokes.

Apologies, my brain appears to have frozen. Common sense will be resumed next week...

Man of the Match: Montrose were fairly useless in the first half, particularly when they didn't have the ball. But in the second half they were bordering on very good, especially as they played with only 10 men for an hour. Garry Wood's goal and performance in general would normally have been enough for a Man of the Match award, but for me it has to be Jamie Winter, maintaining calm in the midfield and stepping up with an awesome strike when it was most needed.

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