Saturday, August 28, 2010

Season 2010/2011: Match 3: Montrose v Annan Athletic

After last week's destruction of Arbroath, it was maybe expecting a bit much that Montrose could continue that form into a match with league leaders Annan today.

Montrose aren't a great side - we know that from last season. But they were unexpectedly brilliant last week, ripping their local rivals apart in a fantastic first half.

There were occasional glimpses of that side again, Steven Tweed having fielded an unchanged starting eleven. But there was none of the ostentatious finishing that destroyed Arbroath a week ago, none of the expolsive finishing and none of the streaking into an unassailable first half lead.

Montrose's goal came from the penalty spot after Fraser Milligan won a pretty soft penalty after a tangle with Jordon Halsman. Paul Tosh stepped up to slam the ball into the bottom corner and bag his third goal of the season.

It was from open play that Montrose were more disappointing, failing to gel the way they had so easily a week ago.

Annan should have taken all three points from a strong second half. Bryan Gilfillan scored from a David Cox corner just after the hour mark and could have added a second in identical circumstances two minutes later. In the last few seconds a Cox corner across the face of goal was begging to be tapped home, but none of the visitors from the Borders was able to add the finishing touch.

So, Montrose have four points from as many matches, which is a considerable improvement on the disaster that was 2009/2010. We're midtable(ish) and back below Arbroath, so this weekend hasn't been entirely productive. But at least we're not bottom....yet....

Man of the Match: No outstanding candidates from Montrose, again contrasting with last week. Scott Bennett had a nerve-wracking flap for all 90 minutes in goal and Milligan couldn't find space to wreak havoc like he did against Arbroath. My vote goes to Chris Hegarty, who looked the most of the Montrose players when he had the ball.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Season 2010/2011: Match 2: Montrose v Arbroath

Having endured the umpteenth circle of hell that was Montrose's horrendous 2009/2010 Division Three campaign, those of us who valiantly venture to Links Park every other Saturday could be forgiven for allowing a cloud of misery to descend upon us as the team lost its first two matches of the season.
Planted firmly at the bottom of the bottom league, having spent almost the entirety of the previous season there, there was little reason to be hopeful ahead of the first league derby with Arbroath in three seasons. Their newly-relegated squad contains players of the calibre of Danny Griffin, Jim Hamilton and former Montrose skipper Keith Gibson. On paper, it was no contest.
But matches aren't played on paper - they're actually played on whatever-it-is-they-call-Astroturf-nowadays.
Greeted by a crowd of 1,012 (I still suspect some creative accounting may have been involved in that figure) that was segregated to stop the less intellectually stable amongst us from battering each other, Montrose ripped into their visitors right from the off. Fraser Milligan gave Mark McCulloch a roasting at left back, and his cross was cut out by one of Arbroath's lumpen centre backs. Aaron Sinclair whipped the corner to the back post where Alan Campbell met it and sent a bullet header across goal. Arbroath's Josh Falkingham claimed to have prevented the ball crossing the line, but if he did it was with his hand. Regardless of his protestations, the linesman awarded the goal.
Displaying a hitherto unknown confidence, Montrose continued to keep the visitors penned in, and it was from another corner that they added a second goal within 10 minutes of the first. Connor Thomson sent a short ball to Chris Hegarty, who had time and space to pick his spot before lashing an unstoppable shot into the top corner from 25 yards out. He and most of his team-mates then set off on an ill-advised celebratory run round the back of the goal net, much to the chagrin of the Arbroath fans assembled at the beach end. One fine specimen of Arbroath inbreeding jumped the wall to engage Hegarty and Co in a lively debate into the merits of their celebration, but was apprehended by Tayside's finest upon returning to his vantage point. The involvement of the boys in blue (or high-visibility yellow at least) almost threatened to start a melee, but some of the trainee brain surgeons decked out in maroon clearly thought better of spending the remainder of their day in the Montrose cells.
By half time the match was all but over, Montrose adding a third goal just after the half hour mark. Former Arbroath "star" Paul Tosh curled an outrageous shot with the outside of his boot/blootered the ball with his toe* and watched it sail into the top corner.
The second half was less one-sided, Arbroath introducing nippy wee winger David Dimilta at half time. His runs caused a few problems for the home side, but they hung on to claim their first win of the season.
Inspiring stuff, and certainly a performance to remember from a Montrose side that may now be finding its feet after a torrid couple of years. Last season Montrose could and probably would have lost even after taking a three-goal lead into the break, but that never looked likely on Saturday. Onwards and upwards.....
*Delete according to preference
Man of the Match: A few good contenders in the Montrose ranks, including the lively Aaron Sinclair and Connor Thomson. But for me it was Fraser Milligan who stood out the furthest, his constant runs causing headaches in the Arbroath defence for the full 90 minutes.