Boxing Day voyage north lacked the vital spark

Elgin's Dylan Easton and Montrose number 6 Matty Allan vie for the ball. Picture Jasper Image
Elgin's Dylan Easton and Montrose number 6 Matty Allan vie for the ball. Picture Jasper Image

There was no Boxing Day cheer for Montrose at Borough Briggs as their unbeaten run was ended by two second half goals from Elgin City.

Manager Paul Hegarty stuck with a 3-5-2 formation that saw Terry Masson return from injury into a central midfield role and Ross Campbell replace the unavailable Adam Hardwood in a back three.

The visitors were first to threaten in the second minute when a neat one-two between Mallagaray and Fraser almost came off but the ball ran harmlessly to the keeper.

Elgin had two free kicks in quick succession, both from around 25 yards. Pascazio cleared the first and also the second after Miller parried with a good save low down to his right hand side.

Millar almost created the first opening for Montrose when his goal kick was headed on by Webster into the path of Gary Fraser but the ball ran to safety aided by a strong, troublesome wind.

Gunn was on target for Elgin when he found space in the box to meet a cross from the left but his header was comfortably saved by Millar.

The best chance up to that point fell to Montrose when a ball into the opposing box caused confusion and a sliced defensive clearance fell to Fraser on the penalty spot. He was unable to react quickly and mis-hit his left foot effort.

Gary Fraser’s frustration got the better of him when, aggrieved at not being given a free kick he immediately committed a clumsy foul and was booked.

The last action of the first half saw two more names in the referee’s notebook. Dylan Easton was booked for Elgin for a double tackle on Allan and Graham Webster had his name taken or a foul on McLaren.

The second half started with Montrose not only playing against the strong wind, but also having to contend with the predicted rain.

Both wide men for Elgin were causing problems for the visiting rear guard. They linked up well when a Moore cross was met at the back post by McLaren, whose header went just wide, but the assistant’s flag would have disallowed it.

The deadlock was broken just before the hour mark. Easton twisted and turned in the box to create space for a shot but it was solidly defended and blocked away for a corner by Pascazio. The corner was not well defended with first an unchallenged header 10 yards out falling to CRAIG GUNN on a crowded goal line and the striker forced the ball into the net.

In the 65th minute Montrose’s Scott Johnston’s name made its way into the book for a late tackle.

Montrose road the storm and edged their way back with Webster again having more of an impact and forcing a corner on the right hand side.

Webster rose to meet Malin’s corner but his header rebounded off the back of the defenders head and landed kindly for the home side who broke down the right touch line where Johnston was beaten for pace. The ball was played perfectly into the middle for Reilly who had sprinted from his own box and despite the gallant efforts of Comrie and Mallagaray, REILLY kept his composure and slotted the ball past Millar to double Elgin City’s lead on 75 minute.

Terry Masson was last to join the list of bookings for a foul on goal scorer Reilly with 10 minutes remaining.

The better team won, with Montrose defending poorly and not creating enough to trouble Hurst in the Elgin goal.

Worse was to follow for Montrose following the final whistle as a surprise late win for Berwick Rangers at Queens Park meant the Gable Endies would end 2015 second bottom of League Two, only four points from safety.

Manager Hegarty will be hoping 2016 will bring a change in fortune for his side and the year kicks off with a vital home fixture against neighbours Arbroath on January 2.