MONTROSE recorded their first victory in five games when they defeated East Stirlingshire at Ochilview Park on Saturday.
The result moved Montrose three points clear of the Shire and ensured more wins and more points than last season’s highly disappointing campaign.
The Gable Endies were poor in the first half but a couple of half-time changes and a new midfield formation resulted in a far better performance by Steven Tweed’s side in the second half.
Two changes were made from the side that lost at home to Queen’s Park. Out went the suspended Hugh Davidson and surprisingly Aaron Sinclair didn’t even feature in the 16. Into the side came Conor Thomson and Nicky Smith.
Montrose lined up with Gonzalez in goal and a back four of Crighton, Campbell, Pope and Cameron. McNally was on the right of midfield with Thomson on the left. McCord was in the middle alongside Crawford. Tosh was partnered up front by Nicky Smith. Hegarty, Boyle, Milligan, Nicol and goalkeeper Sandy Wood made up the bench.
Montrose created a chance in the second minute when Pope launched the ball forward and found Paul Tosh who got the ball under control but an East Stirling defender got back to block the shot.
A good Montrose passing move from the Gable Endies resulted in Nicky Smith getting fouled but McCord’s free kick was held by ‘keeper Michael Andrews.
In the eighth minute the home side opened the scoring. With Dougie Cameron out of position after a Montrose attack, East Stirlingshire exploited the space down the right hand side of the park. Wilkie swung over a perfect cross and the smallest player on the park, PAUL WEAVER, rose up above the visitors’ defence to bullet a header lopping over Gonzalez and into the net.
In the 15th minute a long throw-in from Stephen McNally found Tosh inside the box and he sent a hooked shot straight into the arms of Andrews.
In the next minute Tosh played a one two with Smith and blasted a 30-yard effort over Andrews’ crossbar as Montrose tried to hit back.
In the 21st minute Stephen Maguire went on a mazy run for East Stirlingshire and appeared to be brought down in the box by Campbell but referee Clancy waved play on after signalling the player had dived.
Montrose had a great chance to equalise soon after when Thomson did well to reach the by-line and find Cameron at the edge of the area. He turned his marker and tried to place the ball in the bottom corner with his right foot but his shot went inches wide of the far post.
In the 25th minute Tosh won Montrose a corner kick but Cameron sent an inswinger straight at the ‘keeper.
Thomson and Smith linked up with the latter sending a great pass to McNally wide on the right, but from a good position the captain blasted the ball over the crossbar.
With 32 minutes gone Thomson won the ball and found McCord. The midfielder slipped the ball to Smith who turned inside the box only to fire straight into the arms of ‘keeper Andrews.
Three minutes later a Pope free kick from inside his own half found Tosh at the back post he sent a great header back across goal, but when it seemed easier to score Campbell stabbed at the ball and sent it lopping up and into the arms of the ‘keeper.
In the 37th minute a mistake by the Gable Endies’ defence let Maguire with a clear run at goal but Gonzalez pulled off a great save.
With five minutes of the half remaining, Montrose wasted another opportunity when McCord was tripped by Charlie Grant some 20 yards out. The midfielder took the free kick but he could only blast the ball over the crossbar.
Half-time: East Stirling 1, Montrose 0.
At the start of the second half Montrose made two changes in an effort to spark some life into their performance. On came Martin Boyle and Fraser Milligan in place of Tosh and Thomson. It was Milligan’s first appearance since coming on as a substitute against Annan Athletic on November 9.
Within seconds of the second half starting Montrose had equalised. Shire took centre but Montrose won the ball back and Pope headed the ball over the top for substitute MARTIN BOYLE to race past his marker and coolly slipped the ball wide of ‘keeper Andrews from just inside the box with his first touch.
In the 53rd minute a mistake by ‘keeper Gonzalez almost handed a goal to East Stirlingshire. He kicked his clearance straight at Maguire but managed to get back in time to grasp the striker’s on target shot.
In the 58th minute a McCord run down the left was halted by Grant. The Montrose midfielder didn’t like the challenge and squared up to the Shire player. Before the free kick could be taken both players were warned by referee Clancy.
From McCord’s free kick Montrose took the lead. He sent the ball into the box and it was only cleared as far as NICKY SMITH who showed great feet to send the ball into the top corner of the net with the outside of his boot.
The home side then made a change when they brought on David Dunn for Ryan Wilkie.
McNally became the first booking of the afternoon after a flare up on the edge of the Montrose box after the captain had given away a free kick. Substitute Dunn took the free kick but stuck his effort wide of the far post with Gonzalez beaten.
Montrose tore open the home defence in the 63rd minute when McNally raced forward and found Boyle. He in turn played the ball to Smith, who slipped a pass forward to Crawford overlapping inside the area and he shot straight at Andrews.
A great run from Boyle down the left saw him cut along the by-line and find fellow substitute Milligan who couldn’t get a shot in. Milligan went down under the challenge, but the referee waved away the penalty claims.
East Stirlingshire then made another change bringing on Fraser Team for Paul Hay.
With 78 minutes gone Fraser Milligan sent over another good cross from the right which was met first time by McNally who toe poked the ball over the crossbar and another good chance was gone.
Montrose made their final change with eight minutes remaining, Daryl Nicol coming on in place of goalscorer Smith.
In the 85th minute East Stirlingshire made their last substitution with Stuart Beveridge coming on in place of Derek Ure.
Alan Campbell won Montrose some time at the end of the match with a surging run out of defence which resulted in him winning Montrose a free kick and Paul Weaver being booked for the challenge right at the end of stoppage time.