Saturday, October 26, 2013

Season 2013/2014: Match 1: Montrose 2 East Stirlingshire 0 (Scottish Professional Football League Two)

Work trips to Singapore and London and a holiday in Oban had until today kept me away from the Montrose Maracana this season.

By all accounts, the campaign so far has been a mixed bag, and Division Three League Two is so tight that most of the clubs are within a few points of each other.

This was the first time I'd seen Bryan Deasley and Colin Wilson in the Montrose side, but both appeared to have slotted straight into the team.

Scott Johnston seems to have morphed from an angry woodpecker into a powerful driving winger, Paul Watson has evolved from an ineffective left back into a more useful central midfielder, and Ricky McIntosh spent the match doing his best Roberto Carlos impression.

I was also impressed with goalkeeper Stuart McKenzie, who commanded his box well under pressure, even if his distribution was a little shaky at times.

Montrose started well, Deasley having a shot well saved by Grant Hay after he was played in by Garry Wood.

The home side had the best of the play during the first half, but were denied by horrendous officiating. League Two may be a new brand name, but it appears to have inherited Division Three's scandalous referees and linesmen.

Montrose finally took the lead in the 34th minute, East Stirlingshire's Michael McGown sliding in to poke Garry Wood's shot into the bottom corner past Hay.

Wood and Watson also went close near the end of the half, Wood's diving header flying narrowly wide and Watson firing just over from 20 yards out.

While the on-pitch fare was pleasing enough, the best entertainment of the half was to be found on the terracing at the beach end of the ground, where a gazillion stewards spent 20 minutes wrestling with shirtless Shire neanderthals, before admitting defeat and summoning half of Tayside's police officers to provide support.

Back on the field, it took only six minutes of the second half for Montrose to double their lead, Terry Masson controlling the ball 25 yards from goal and shooting low into the net.

Shire worked hard in their search for a way back into the match, but Montrose remained well organised and saw the match out in relative comfort.

If they win against bottom of the table Queen's Park on Tuesday night, they have the chance to go top of the league. We live in hope...

Man of the Match: Most of the Montrose side looked good today, and McIntosh, Masson, McKenzie and Johnston all excelled. But Garry Wood again looked different class, holding the ball up well and bringing those around him into the play.

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