Saturday, November 23, 2013

Season 2013/2014: Match 4: Montrose 3 Elgin City 3 (Scottish Professional Football League Two)

Montrose were bereft of their lucky charm this week, Little Jocklette deciding to eschew the North Sea Nou Camp in favour of a nap and baking cookies with her mummy.

It therefore fell upon me to make the trek alone, in the knowledge that a Montrose win coupled with results going their way elsewhere could see them move up to second in the table, and the wisdom that that almost certainly would not happen.

Montrose's team looked strong on paper, although Gareth Roger's absence through injury left a gaping chasm in the centre of defence that neither Jonathan Crawford nor Colin Wilson could adequately fill.

With neither centre back entirely comfortable with the art of defending, they instead resorted to a comedy hair competition, Wilson emerging as the unanimous winner with fetching side parting/hideous moustache combination, presumably but hopefully not in aid of Movember - that bad boy has long-term potential.

Bryan Deasley - somehow having missed the cut for Gordon Strachan's Scotland squad despite his single-handed destruction of Albion Rovers a week earlier - lined up alongside Garry Wood in attack, while Terry Masson turned winger in the absence of anyone better qualified.

The Wood-Masson-Watson-Deasley axis of awesomeness looked likely to put Montrose ahead early on, but some magnificent saves from Raymond Jellema kept the scoresheet clear for the first 20 minutes.

It was former Aberdeen and Heart 'star' Dennis Wyness - a man whose wife one is not advised to dance with in an Aberdeen nightclub -  who opened the scoring at that point, backheeling Ross McKinnon's shot into the net.

Their lead lasted 10 minutes, at which point Montrose's answer to Jorg Albertz, Paul Watson, slammed a long-range shot into the bottom corner.

But as is the way of things down Wellington Street way, Montrose thereafter began to play like a bunch of hungover Sunday league players meeting for the first time. They could scarcely string two passes together, and found themselves camped in their own box for most of the time between their goal and half time.

Had it not been for some excellent saves from Stuart McKenzie, Montrose could have found themselves five or six goals down by the hour mark, rather than just two.

Elgin's second goal came on the stroke of half time, David Niven crossing for Wyness to tap home his second goal of the afternoon, the Montrose defence having left the park early to get a head start on the half time Hobnobs.

Their third came seven minutes after the break, Craig Gunn reacting quickest when Ross McKinnon's 30-yard free kick clattered off McKenzie's post. It was no surprise that Gunn was first to the ball, given that he was five yards offside when the free kick was taken.

It was at that point that I considered packing up my notepad and stopwatch, and heading home for a nap and some cookies.

Thankfully I chose to sit it out, and was rewarded with one of the least likely comebacks I've seen in a while.

I questioned Stuart Garden's sanity when he withdrew Garry Wood and Terry Masson on the hour mark, replacing them with Scott Johnston and Kieran Sturrock.

So there's a reason why he's the professional football manager and I'm just a smartass who watches football and occasionally gets paid to write about it.

Johnston scored Montrose's second goal after great play from Deasley. The on-loan Forfar man powered down the left, burst into the box and squared for Johnston to tap into the empty net - but with just three minutes remaining, it looked to be too little, too late.

With the clock ticking into its final seconds, a corner fell for Watson, and he slammed his shot into the roof of the net, before racing off to silence his detractors in the ranks of the Montrose faithful.

So, while in the cold light of day this was two points dropped to the team sitting second bottom of the table, in the end it almost felt like a win, so unlikely had it seemed even five minutes before the end.

Montrose remain outside the playoff spots for the meantime, but with just nine points separating first and ninth in the table, there's a long way to go.

Man of the Match: Bryan Deasley left it late to emerge from his shell, creating Johnston's goal with a surging run and composed pass. Paul Watson's finishing made the difference between a draw and a defeat.

But for me, today's key performer was Stuart McKenzie in goals, without whom Montrose really would have been dead and buried by half time. His saves kept the scoreline more respectable than it might have been, laying the foundation for the late recovery.


Anonymous said...

Mither enjoyed reading this & hopes a cookie bay yet come her way!

Anonymous said...