Saturday, April 27, 2013

Season 2012/2013: Match 19: Montrose 1 Queen's Park 2 (Irn-Bru Scottish Football League Division Three)

And we're done.

While Montrose's season may officially finish in Annan next week, their hopes of a promotion play-off spot were dashed today when they lost to Queen's Park in a Royal Rumble of a match that finished with only 20 players on the park.

Scott Johnston and Jamie Winter were dressed in suits this afternoon, Johnston inexplicably pairing brown elbow pads with a blue suit and brothel creepers, while Winter tested the stitching on a snug waistcoat.

Their presence in the stand meant that Montrose lined up with Terry 'The Destroyer' Masson and Irn Bru's Ross McCord in central midfield, with Lloyd 'Hairdo' Young and Ricky 'No, the other McIntosh' McIntosh on the wings. Martin Boyle and Garry Wood started (and finished) up front, with Mary Shelley's Paul Lunan partnering arthritis' Alan Campbell in central defence. Stephen 'The Body' McNally and Paul 'But I'm not a left-back' Watson played at full back and Sandy Wood was restored to his rightful place in the Montrose goal.

Montrose needed to win while hoping that Annan did the same against Berwick if they were to retain their faint hope of a play-off place. They started well, Boyle reasoning that if he's officially a full-time professional footballer, he might as well rip the fuck out of some amateurs. He gave the visitors a torrid time, bursting past Scott Gibson before having a shot held, before turning creator only to see Wood thump a shot into the side netting on the turn.

But it was Queen's Park who took the lead on the verge of half time, Tony Quinn heading in from a Tony McParland corner.

Deprived of fluids, I joined the pie queue in search of £1 cups of Irn-Bru at half time, where I was regaled by tales from my press corps colleague. Choice among today's riveting topics was the way in which she differs from Kim Kardashian. A prize to anyone who can guess first time.

Surrounded on all sides by madness, I hoped that Montrose would restore some sanity in the second half. Actually, sanity is Montrose rooting around at the foot of Division Three. We're not accustomed to referring to the side as 'promotion-chasing Montrose', but sometimes this season their play has indicated that they're capable of being a good side.

That side came to the fore primarily through Garry Wood, who firstly freed Boyle with a back heel, only for the top goalscorer to roll his shot wide of the goal.

Wood was involved again when Young and McCord connected on the edge of the box, but the copper-headed midfielder lashed a shot wide of the far post.

And he finally got the assist he deserved on the hour mark, his neat flick into the box releasing Boyle, who made no mistakes this time around, slotting home from around 12 yards out.

I believe (actually I know, because he's posted a picture of the trophy on Facebook) that Martin Boyle has been crowned Montrose's top goalscorer at tonight's Player of the Year dinner. Which assumes that neither Garry Wood nor Lloyd Young will score four against Annan next week. And that Alan Campbell won't go mental and put 11 past the Borders side.

Anyway, anyone believing that the goal meant that Montrose were now in the ascendancy had their hopes dashed when a right back made the Montrose team look like traffic cones a few moments later, before Sandy Wood spooned a corner in the box, allowing Gibson to poke home what proved to be the winning goal.

The drama wasn't over though. Queen's Park's Guiseppi Capuano was shown a second yellow card and plodded up the tunnel to get a head start on the shower gel. The Montrose free kick that followed was atrocious, failing to beat the first man and allowing Queen's Park to break. David Gray, carried up the park in a cloud of red mist, took matters into his own feet and committed a professional foul, following Capuano up the tunnel after just a minute.

En route, he stopped to have a slanging match with Lunan, who is due back at his master's laboratory at the end of the season for a tune-up. Gray then whipped his shirt off and threw it at the Montrose bench, not a wise course of action given that it acts as the holding pen for Big Mad Lee Wilkie and George 'The Animal' Shields.

I await reports as to whether Gray arrived at tonight's dinner in one piece.

And so Montrose's season effectively ended a week early, which is a four-month improvement on the past three years. We've seen a lot of encouraging signs during the campaign, Young and Gray having been particularly good to watch. Garry Wood has looked more effective this season than we've seen in the past, and it was good to welcome the Boyle Wonder home to do what he does best - score goals for Montrose.

It's probably for the best that they have avoided promotion - results like the recent hiding from Peterhead have shown that they still lack consistency, and I'd have wagered on a swift return to the basement if they had been promoted.

But there are a lot of encouraging signs, and for the first time in a few years, I'm optimistic about the next campaign.

Man of the Match: Garry Wood. A strong performance up front, repeatedly acting as a creative force for those around him, and setting up Boyle's goal with a sublime flicked pass.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Season 2012/2013: Match 18: Montrose 2 Stirling Albion 2 (Irn-Bru Scottish Football League Division Three)

Today was sunny but chilly at the AnguS ArenA. At least it didnae snaw.

Mary Shelley's Paul Lunan was back from the spare parts shop today, but Garry Wood found himself sittting in the stand with Saved By The Bell's Jonathan Crawford. Bakery's Jamie Winter and Terry 'The Destroyer' Masson started in midfield, flanked by Lloyd Young and Ricky McIntosh. Wood's absence saw Boyle and Johnston form the smallest strike partnership outside Middle Earth. Leighton McIntosh, once linked with Celtic, is now deemed to be Montrose's fourth-best striker.

Stirling Albion included Kieran McAnespie and Graham Weir in their starting line-up, but looked distinctly average for much of the match.

But average Albion took the lead after seven minutes, Mark Perry with a low finish from a Jordan White knock-down.

Montrose had the better of the first half, but took until the 36th minute to equalise, Winter heading over the Stirling back line for Boyle to race through one-on-one with visiting keeper Filler. Boyle headed over the goalkeeper before taking a pair of knees to the ribs. Filler got a yellow card when it should have been a red, but Montrose were level.

Boyle was involved again when Montrose took the lead, robbing Jamie Bishop wide on the right before racing to the bye-line. Terry Masson dummied the square ball, allowing Ricky McIntosh time and space to float the ball over Filler.

They looked to have won the match until three minutes from time when Josh Flood met Scott Davidson's cross at the front post, heading across goal and in off the opposite upright.

Does it go without saying today's refereeing would have shamed a boys club match in the third world? Kevin Graham had a nightmare, allowing Filler to stay on the park when he should have walked, and allowing Albion to get away with a whole host of fouls. I only counted one Albion yellow card today, for Filler's assault on Boyle's ribs, but it could and should have been at least half a dozen.

The late equaliser is a kick in the balls for Montrose's promotion campaign. They were three minutes from bagging all three points, a result that would have seen them sitting third in the league, a point ahead of Peterhead and five ahead of Berwick. But now they're a point behind Peterhead and only three ahead of Berwick. Three of their four remaining matches are away from home and the home tie is against Queen's Park, sitting second in the league.

It looks like we're set for a nerve-wracking run in as Montrose push for a play-off place.

Man of the Match: Although he lost the ball to allow Albion to grab that late equaliser, Terry Masson otherwise had a good match, urging his team mates on and dummying the ball sweetly for the second Montrose goal.