Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Season 2010/2011: Match 20: Arbroath v Montrose

Despite my protests, despite my ongoing recovery from a cold, despite the weather and despite what was obviously going to be a defeat, I was at Gayfield today to watch Arbroath win the title against Montrose.

There was a noisy travelling support that was given a token corner of the ground, while Abroath completely failed to fill the remainder, despite pre-match boasts that thay'd bring a bumper crowd.

No complaints over the scoreline today, the better team won. Montrose were too often second the ball, were guilty far too frequently of giving the ball away and too often tried to score from ridiculous long-range shots.

It was obvious from the point that Arbroath were given an early penalty that the referee was a sub-human wazzock, and every decision went against the visitors. The penalty was retaken due to a one-man pitch invasion, and the second attempt only went in after trickling along the goalline after coming off of Gonzo's right-hand post.

But the home side scored four on the day, and the flying Argentine was at fault too often, wandering into strange positions miles off his goalline.

Often I think it looks as though Gonzo is watching a different game from everyone else, as he seems to spend a lot of the match barking orders to invisible players just in front of him and flapping at balls that aren't there.

Either that or he has a drink problem, and what we're actually witnessing is a weekly episode of "Ramiro Battles The Pink Elephants". It's easy to imagine, when he's leaping around his box muttering to himself, that he's screaming: "Fuck off elephants, I'm trying to play football".

Anyway, today's match was shite from a Montrose point of view and presumably great from an Arbroath point of view, as they secured the Division Three title and promotion. Montrose bright spots were few and far between, although Terry Masson's overhead kick for the consolation goal was a bit special.

Disgraceful scenes at the end as hundreds of Arbroath fans invaded the pitch, a handful of them knocking Gonzo to the ground and piling on top of him. Montrose need to make an official complaint about the incident and the fact that the police stood and watched an assault that they should have prevented taking place just feet away.

Man of the Match: Terry Masson. The goal alone made him Montrose's best player, but he generally got stuck in throughout a disappointing Montrose performance.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Season 2010/2011: Match 19: Montrose v Stranraer

This was the first time I'd seen Montrose since Ray (or Raymond as the matchday programme calls him) Farningham was appointed full-time manager.

The club's form has picked up in recent weeks, and there was a nonchalent swagger about their play in the first half.

Chris Hegarty was restored to the starting line-up, which was missing Stephen McNally through suspension. The team lined up in what looked like a 4-3-3 formation, and the emphasis seemed to be very much on pinning Stranraer back and constant attack.

The first goal arrived in odd circumstances, Ross McCord turning the ball into the empty net but referee John Beaton instead awarding a penalty for a foul on Hugh Davidson. That decision could have proven to be a nightmare for Montrose, but Daryl Nicol made no mistakes from the spot.

Their lead was doubled before 20 minutes were up, Dougie Cameron the beneficiary of a stramash in the Stranraer box, the ball deflecting off him and looping over goalkeeper David Mitchell's head.

Having set themselves up with such a strong lead early on, Montrose looked like they might rack up a cricket score. Their passing was crisp and they looked confident, particularly from midfield forwards.

Armand One - who is fucking huge - is generally used by Stranraer as a battering ram. But he found himself unable to make an impact, and was hooked before half time, storming straight up the tunnel in a huff.

The second half was a different story for Montrose, and they struggled to find and maintain a rhythm. Stranraer scored nine minutes after the break with a weak goal, Montrose's defence caught napping.

The best was still to come though with Daryl Nicol's second goal. The youngster dipped his shoulder, cut inside and slammed an unstoppable shot into the top corner.

He looked likely to bag a hat-trick until Farningham made his only substitution of the match and swapped him for Sean Pierce 18 minutes from time.

Stranraer got a second goal 17 minutes from the end, and it flustered Montrose, but the home side managed to hang on to secure a good three points from one of the better teams in the division. If Stranraer had won today they'd be third in the league and very much in the promotion chase.

It's very unlikely that Montrose will finish bottom of the league this season, so there has definitely been progress since last year. Steven Tweed can take some of the credit for that, but the team looks a lot better since Ray Farningham assumed control. That suggests the problem may have been with the previous manager's personality as much as anything, so here's hoping the biggest problems are behind us.

Man of the Match: If the match had finished at half time, I'd have gone for Dougie Cameron. Today's first 45 minutes were the best I've seen from him in a Montrose shirt - he looked comfortable on the ball, passed well, crossed efficiently and generally looked dangerous. But he was very poor in the second half, snatching at tackles and picking up a needless booking.

Ross McCord had a good game, playing just behind the front two and generally involving himself in all of Montrose's attacks. His match had everything except the goal he deserved.

Ramiro Gonzalez was also a key figure, keeping Montrose ahead with a number of outstanding saves. But Gonzo can also be a bit erratic, and should have done better with both of the Stranraer goals. An outstanding celebration for the third Montrose goal though, running to the halfway line to roar his appreciation in front of the home dugout before getting a bollocking from Stuart Garden and scuttling back to where he was supposed to be.

The real man of the match though was Daryl Nicol, whose thunderbolt second goal was the icing on the cake of an outstanding performance.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Season 2010/2011: Match 18: Montrose v Elgin City

The sun was shining today, and the summery weather seemed to inject Montrose with a bit of life.

This was the first time I've seen Montrose since Steven Tweed quit/flounced off in a huff.

Montrose were looking for their first win in six games, and by all accounts they've been decent but have just lacked the killer touch over the last few matches.

That was definitely obvious today, and the home side should have scored five or six today.

In the end they only got the one, but that was enough to take all three points.

It was a well-taken chance, Jonathan Crawford meeting Daryl Nicol's cross with a perfectly-placed header.

Both sides had chances, and today was the first time that I've actually believed that our Argentine mime artist Gonzo is a goalkeeper. He made some good stops and blocks, and even kicked with his right foot at least once.

In fact, Montrose generally looked quite good today. Aaron Sinclair had probably his best game of the season, playing at left back, although there were a few defensive slips from his team-mates.

Stephen McNally was his usual industrious self at right back, and the midfield was solid and fairly creative.

The front line of Nicol and Boyle was very lively throughout, and if Montrose were suffering from top goalscorer Paul Tosh's departure to Peterhead, they didn't show it.

Too many chances were passed up for this performance to be truly great, but a win is a win, and those have been few and far between at Links Park over the past two years.

Hopefully Ray Farningham will take the Montrose job permanently and will have a clear vision of how to take the side forwards.

Of the team that started today, I'd now keep Gonzalez, McNally, Davidson, Boyle and Nicol. Sinclair I would sell for the right price, even though he's a great player on his day. I'd keep most of the backline if they could eliminate the silly mistakes. But it would be end of the road for Dougie Cameron, who looks too sloppy in his passing and seems to make odd decisions too frequently.

Cameron passed up a glorious chance today, hammering a volley high and wide from six yards out when it looked easier to score.

Onwards and upwards for Montrose? Maybe. There were certainly green (or blue) shoots today anyway.

Man of the Match: This could easily have gone to one of a number of players. Gonzalez looked like a goalkeeper for the first time, and kept Montrose ahead with a lot of good saves. Hugh Davidson looked reliable in midfield, and Aaron Sinclair seems to have been rejuvenated by his move to left back. But today's key player was Daryl Nicol, who worked tirelessly (as did strike partner Martin Boyle), creating chances throughout and setting up Crawford's goal with a great run and cross.