Saturday, January 14, 2012

Season 2011/2012: Match 14: Montrose 4 Clyde 0 (Irn-Bru Division Three)

Last week, Montrose played well against one of the division's better sides and came away with nothing.

Today they again had a fantastic match against lowly Clyde and recorded another impressive win over the Cumbernauld side.

Garry Wood has returned to Links Park after time away at Ross County and even in the Premier League with Caley Thistle. He was included on the bench today, Ray Farningham sticking with the team that did well the previous week.

The first half was a scrappy affair, Montrose playing well generally until the final third, where Clyde were defending in numbers. There was little of note to comment on, aside from Sandy Wood tearing Sean Crighton a new one for conceding a corner when it would have been as easy to pass the ball back to his goalkeeper.

But the second half was entirely different, Montrose racking up two goals in the opening nine minutes.

Both were created by Martin Boyle, the young striker in rampant form after the break. His raw pace left his marker for dead in the 52nd minute, and allowed him to keep the ball in and send a square ball across the box. David McGowan's shot took a deflection on its way past the goalkeeper.

Clyde were rattled, and Montrose took advantage with a near carbon copy of their opener just two minutes later. Boyle again burst down the right, and this time it was Scott Johnston who was on hand to send a low shot into the net.

Boyle himself had the ball in the net shortly after the hour mark, but his goal was disallowed for offside when he headed home at the back post from Dougie Cameron's cross.

Jamie Winter had gradually been finding his range as the match wore on, sending several long-range shots wide of goal. He had a 30-yard free kick tipped onto the post and out for a corner, but finally got the goal his performance merited with a sublime drive 15 minutes from time.

Stephen McNally completed the destruction a minute into stoppage time, his shot from the edge of the box deflected into the net.

Montrose were magnificent in the second half, controlling the tempo and severely restricting Clyde's opportunities.

The players seem comfortable with each other, and there seems to be an awareness of who is capable of what, who should be where and who should be doing what at all times.

I just wish we could play Clyde every week - they seem to have a torrid time every time they come to Links Park, not least last season's 8-1 destruction.

But whoever Montrose are playing now, they have the quality to cause them problems. If they can maintain their concentration and composure at all times, they deserve to be higher up the table.

Man of the Match: Another solid team performance in which no-one failed to perform. Terry Masson and Jamie Winter again dominated in midfield, and David McGowan and Scott Johnston provided much needed support to Martin Boyle. But it was Boyle who was the key man today, creating Montrose's quick-fire opening double and deserving of a goal himself that sadly never came. I fear his time at Montrose may not last much longer...

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Season 2011/2012: Match 13: Montrose 1 Stranraer 3 (Irn-Bru Division Three)

Today I suffered from what I believe today's youth refer to as an "epic fail", arriving at Links Park eight minutes after kick-off, therefore missing Montrose's second-minute goal.

That did mean that I saw all three Stranraer strikes, an abject refereeing performance from Barry Cook and Montrose squander a host of chances.

I also burst the zip on my jacket beyond repair and almost dissolved my tongue with a cup of the heated industrial lubricant marketed in Scotland under the brand name Bovril.

And weirdly, this wasn't the worst day I've ever had at the football. Montrose played well, and but for the afore-mentioned poor finishing and third world refereeing, they could have won by a comfortable margin.

There were no complaints with the Stranraer goals, aside from lax defending for the first. Two of them went in courtesy of deflections, but Sandy Wood otherwise had a good game in goal.

It's not often we say this, but Martin Boyle was the main culprit in Montrose's failure to win, missing three gilt-edged chances. The young striker deserves praise for being in goalscoring positions in the first place, but when faced with open goals on two occasions, he hit the post with one effort and slammed the ball into the side netting with the second. He also had a half volley brilliantly saved by Ryan Marshall and slammed a volley wide of the post near the end of the match.

Referee C(r)ook must be from Ayrshire, as every decision went in favour of the visitors. A Scott Johnston goal was disallowed for an imaginary foul in the build-up, he ignored Stranraer's constant fouling and failed to send Grant Gallagher off for a brutal elbow-led assault on Terry Masson's face.

So I now haven't seen a Montrose win since October 22. And yet I still feel more positive about the way things are going than I did a year ago. The team generally look more comfortable on the park than in recent seasons, and but for a bit of bad luck would have won today.

Man of the Match: Martin Boyle was a constant threat to the Stranraer defence today, but passed up far too many chances. Scott Johnston didn't get enough time on the ball to make a difference, and the defence was a bit too haphazard to be considered as potential men of the match (and Dougie Cameron appeared to be sporting stubble that suggested "homeless man living under a bridge" more than "Bruce Willis at his Die Hard peak"). For me, the key performer was Terry Masson, solid and reliable in midfield, snapping into challenges, pushing for goals and ripping Jonathan "Beckenbauer" Smart a new one for dicking about at the back instead of doing what he's paid to and getting rid of the ball.