Saturday, April 26, 2014

Season 2013/2014: Match 14: Montrose 2 Annan Athletic 1 (Scottish Professional Football League Two)

Having last seen Montrose win around six weeks ago, and having seen them ship five goals without reply in my previous two visits to the Montrose Maracana, it was with no optimism that I ventured out today.

Given that they were facing an Annan side sitting second in the league and with a playoff place guaranteed, it seemed obvious that Montrose would continue their sorry capitulation of the preceding two home matches.

The previous week they'd rolled over and let Clyde tickle their bellies, but this week there was a growl and a determination to their play.

Jonathan Crawford epitomised it, with a snarling, ill-tempered showing that included a booking in the third minute. Having long since cast aside his Screech Powers curls, Crawford today was a torn-faced menace to any Annan player who ventured into his fallout zone. He almost scored with a fantastic bullet header during the second half, only to be denied by a great stop from visiting keeper Kenny Arthur.

Montrose had taken the lead on the half hour mark when Scott Johnston's cross to the back post was headed down by Paul Watson, allowing Bryan Deasley to sneak in front of his marker and poke the ball into the net.

The same player had several chances during the match, but found Arthur in good form, as well as passing up others through poor finishing.

It took until the 74th minute for Annan to find an equaliser, David Hopkirk sent clear of the Montrose defence and slotting a shot past McKenzie and in off the post.

But it took Montrose only two minutes to move back in front, McCord's corner falling to Wood in the box. The Montrose skipper's first shot was blocked, but his second zipped across goal and into the net.

And so Montrose's final home match of the season ended with an unlikely win. The season will end next week in deepest, darkest Stenhousemuir, and from there we can begin to think about next season under a new manager.

I'd keep most of the squad on, assuming they wanted to stay. McKenzie has been a revelation in goals, and Montrose will be doing well to hold on to him.

Campbell and Wilson have settled as a central defensive partnership, and Crawford's versatility continues to make him a useful asset. Left back remains a problem, although Bell did fairly well today before being replaced by McIntosh.

Watson, Masson and Gray are all definite keeps, but I've been concerned over the form of McCord this season, as he doesn't appear to be the player he was during his first spell at Links Park.

Deasley, Wood and Johnston are all great players on their day, and I'd definitely keep all three.

So, if a new manager can add some additional bodies in defence and midfield, and hold onto the best players already at the club, it might be possible to move me from pessimism to optimism.


Man of the Match: Bryan Deasley's movement and workrate were great today, but his finishing could have been better. Garry Wood took his goal well and looked generally untroubled all afternoon, as did the unusually fiery Jonathan Crawford.

But yet again, Stuart McKenzie was exceptional, keeping Montrose ahead with some magnificent goalkeeping. The best player at the club by a sizeable margin this season.

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