Saturday, February 15, 2014

Season 2013/2014: Match 9: Montrose 1 Queen's Park 0 (Scottish Professional Football League Two)

There really is no logic to football, particularly in the end-of-line bargain bin we know as Scottish Professional Football League Two (or Division Three in old money).

Montrose were battered by both the excitable North Sea wind and their Glasgow-via-Airdrie opponents, but somehow managed to emerge at the end with all three points, keeping them in the heady position of eighth (or third bottom) of Serie Z4.

Shockingly, they also kept a clean sheet, which is more than can realistically be expected from a back four containing Jonathan Crawford, Alan Campbell and a striker masquerading as a centre back.

The whole match turned on a 60-second spell around the hour mark, when Queen's Park had a goal disallowed for offside. Montrose reacted quickly and fired the free kick up the park. Bryan Deasley was fouled on the edge of the box, but referee Mike Taylor waved play on. The ball fell to Paul Watson 25 yards out, the midfielder emerging from an hour-long period of anonymity to lash a left-foot drive into the bottom corner.

That Montrose were able to get a result here bordered on the incredible, given that Queen's Park had two shots cleared off the Montrose goal line and missed a couple of sitters in addition to having their offside effort chalked off.

There are still serious question marks over the squad, not least in the strength in depth (or lack of) throughout the squad. With no discernible fullbacks, Garry Wood shoehorned in at centre back and the hapless Jamie Reid bamboozled in an unfamiliar central midfield role, Montrose struggled to keep possession and to string any passes together.

Even with a relatively solid spine of Stuart McKenzie, Alan Campbell, Terry Masson, Paul Watson and Bryan Deasley, they struggled to find a rhythm, and too often smacked the ball hopefully and hopelessly into the wind, only to find it bearing back down on them within seconds.

Six points is far from an insurmountable gap between Montrose and the playoff positions, but if we are being realistic, that chance is fast slipping away (which sounds like an odd thing to say after a win).

But this was a victory against the odds and against the run of play - realism and pessimism are effectively the same thing when watching Montrose...

Man of the Match: Another calm and assured performance from Stuart McKenzie in goals kept Montrose in this match, while several of his outfield colleagues put in tireless shifts. Chief amongst those was Scott Johnston, whose drive and determination kept Queen's Park on the back foot during Montrose's attempted attacks.