Saturday, March 29, 2014

Season 2013/2014: Match 12: Montrose 0 Elgin City 3 (Scottish Professional Football League Two)

Optimism and positivity tend to be in short supply in the stand, cow-shed and storm-ravaged terracing of Links Park, but today Montrose largely ditched their "launch it into the wind and see what happens" approach to the beautiful game and opted instead for slick passing and the creation of scores of chances.

They could have gone in at the break leading by four or five goals had it not been for some good saves from visiting goalkeeper John Gibson, some unlucky/poor finishing from Paul Watson, Scott Johnston and David Gray, and Bryan Deasley's inexplicably poor final balls.

Potentially four or five goals ahead at the break, but drawing 0-0 when Mat Northcroft blew for half time. Those of you aware of Montrose's recent history know where this is heading, don't you?

Montrose were still the better side in the second half, Campbell and Watson both coming close and Terry Masson shooting wide when it looked easier to score,

But it took only eight minutes for Elgin to score, Shane Sutherland (who was an international-class striker in Football Manager 2012) robbing Jonathan Crawford and poking the ball under Stuart McKenzie.

Two more goals followed, both scored by substitute Adam McLeod, and both after Montrose corners were cleared by long punts from the Elgin defenders.

So despite dominating the match, playing some attractive attacking football, regularly winning the ball and forcing Elgin into errors, Montrose contrived to lose 3-0 at home to the team second bottom of Scotland's lowest professional league.

Optimism and positivity tend to be in short supply...

Man of the Match: When Montrose were playing well today, they were as good as I've seen them all season - breaking fast, constantly pressing and looking for openings. Paul Watson and Terry Masson were the driving forces in the middle of the park, while David Gray created several chances and Bryan Deasley's work rate was second to none.

Leading them all by example was Scott Johnston, the youngster up front with Gray and a repeated threat to the Elgin defence. He seems to have bulked up recently, adding a previously unknown physical aspect to his play, as well as developing his final ball to be more effective.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Season 2013/2014: Match 11: Montrose 2 East Stirlingshire 0 (Scottish Professional Football League Two)

Jock 1:1: And lo, the wind did howl, and there was great misery upon the Earth.

Jock 1:2: And the people asked: "Must we watch Montrose in the storm? For we have seen them ship five to Berwick and they were poor".

Jock 1:3. But Garden spoke: "Venture unto the Links Park and thou shalt be rewarded".

Jock 2:1. The people heard the word, and it was true. For East Stirlingshire contrived to lose to a team battered by Berwick a week earlier.

Jock 2:2. Garden selected Gray, and there were great rejoicing, for he did open the scoring with a 30-yard half volley.

Jock 2:3. And the people were happy, for Deasley scored a second, poking into the net from six yards out.

Jock 3.1. Lo, the storm did blow, but Montrose were strong, and the people were happy.

Jock 3.2. Though the Shire had chances, they could not have scored in a Babylonian brothel. And Garden was happy. And the Mo rejoiced.

Man of the Match: David Gray scored a belter of a goal, Jonathan Crawford gave possibly the best performance I have ever seen from him and Ricky McIntosh was superb at left back.

But yet again, Stuart McKenzie was a formidable presence in goal, keeping a clean sheet as Shire and the wind did their best to find goals in the second half.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Season 2013/2014: Match 10: Montrose 2 Albion Rovers 1 (Scottish Professional Football League Two)

Could the playing and coaching staff of Montrose FC please consider alerting paying punters if, in future, they intend to cram all the interesting bits of their match into a five-minute spell in the second half.

That way, those of us who aren't always blown away by the avant-garde performance art of Messrs Crawford, Deasley, Johnston and Campbell can find something less arse-numbingly dull to do, then turn up for the good bit.

Today's match turned in a chaotic five minutes early in the second half when Albion Rovers - who have ditched their Melchester Rovers strips for Spanish national team knock-offs - took the lead through Gary Philips' header at the back post.

That lead lasted two minutes, Bryan Deasley taking a break from shanking wild shots wide of the target to send a square ball to Scott Johnston, who poked the ball into the net from two yards out.

The home side then took the lead a further two minutes later, Terry Masson applying the finishing touch to a smooth passing move involving Deasley and Gray.

Montrose also had two headers cleared off the Albion Rovers goal-line, and by the end they were feeling so confident that Jonathan Crawford decided to take a wander to left back, dropped his shoulder, cut outside the Albion Rovers right winger and pinged a 45-yard pass down the touchline. It may prove to be the high point of his career.

The second half of the second half (fourth quarter in Americanese) was possibly as good as I've seen Montrose play all season. But nonetheless, someone sitting near the back of the stand called for Stuart Garden's resignation on the final whistle.

Up to sixth in the league, only five points off the play-offs? I must not be optimistic...I must not be optimistic...I must not be optimistic...

Man of the Match: There were two stand-out performers in my opinion - Scott Johnston and Stuart McKenzie. The striker scored one and gave a typically hard-working performance up front, but the goalkeeper kept Montrose in the match with a series of point-blank saves and generally strong command of his box. He also picked up my vote for player of the season in today's poll.