Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Season 2013/2014: Match 2: Montrose 1 Queen's Park 2 (Scottish Professional Football League Two)

Regular readers (both of you) will be aware that amongst my many gripes are:

A) The foolishness of engaging in outdoor activity in Scotland in any months between September and March. Add to this, if you will, the climatic effects of kicking off after dark in a ground beside the North Sea.

B) The utterly incomprehensible incompetence of football officials in the sewers of the Scottish 'professional' game.

Unusually, my normal pessimistic nature was offset by having seen Montrose dispose of East Stirlingshire three days earlier with what passes for discipline and control at Links Park.

Facing off against the team sitting bottom of the league, a team still looking for their first win of the season, a team that had traveled up from Glasgow that afternoon, and surely - SURELY - Montrose were destined for the top of Serie Z4, or whatever the multi-headed monster that is the SPFL is calling Division Three these days.

I should have known better. The twin impediments in Montrose's rise to become the creme de la creme of the 10 worst teams in Scotland were:

A) The Montrose players


B) Referee Mat Northcroft

Usually, I can sympathise with referees - they're on a hiding to nothing, and they're almost never going to please everyone all of the time.

Initially, I thought that Northcroft was having a decent match, allowing play to flow instead of whistling for every minor infringement.

But as the cold seeped into his brain, Northcroft reverted to type.

Firstly, he managed to pull more than seven minutes of second half injury time out of his arse. Queen's had taken the lead in the 25th minute when Blair Spittal cut inside Jonathan Crawford and curled a shot inside Stuart McKenzie's far post.

But Terry Masson looked to have snatched a point for Montrose right at (what should have been) the death, bundling the ball over the line at the second attempt in the 87th minute.

However, 10 minutes later a free kick was awarded against Garry Wood for having the temerity to allow his opposite number to climb onto his back. A quick free kick was spanked up the park, Liam Gormley controlled and fired low into the net.

It was a cruel blow, and Northcroft's decisions towards the end of the match defied all logic.

Jesus suffering fuck on a bike - is it too much to hope that someday we might be graced with a referee capable of making correct decisions for an hour and half?

I should point out, however, that Montrose were not entirely blameless when it came to the result. They eschewed the crisp passing of Saturday for aimless punts up the park, in the vain hope that Garry Wood had become Wayne Rooney since the weekend.

He hadn't, and their industry in their own half went unrewarded, as instead of playing the ball to feet, they opted instead to return it to their opponents as quickly as possible.

In David Gray, Scott Johnston, Bryan Deasley and Garry Wood, Montrose have some skilled ball players, but they can only work with what they're given.

Having said that, I do sometimes wonder if Scott Johnston is the hardest-working, least productive winger I've ever seen...

In fairness to Montrose, their evolution is continuing - 18 months ago they'd have lost this match by three or four goals.

But it's infuriating when we've seen them play so well, to watch them resort to hit and hope tactics just days later.

Man of the Match: This is a tough one to call, as the team performance was so disjointed that it was difficult for any of the players to shine. McKenzie again looked comfortable in the goal, and could do nothing about either of the Queen's goals. Wood was, as always, tireless up front, and with a bit of luck could have won the match for Montrose in the second half.

But the greatest goal threat came from Paul Watson, who seems to be thriving in his new role in the middle of the park, acting as a link between defence and attack, and proving a constant threat with his long range shots.

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