With the majority of MAFA allocated matches postponed due to recent damp weather a hastily arranged fixture was relocated to Montrose. Riverside were keen to have a fixture and agreed to travel and the match was deemed a home fixture for the Dundee side.
Good performance against top side despite defeat
Merpro had some selection dilemmas, as a goalkeeper shortage in town resulted in Euan Duff volunteering to take the vacant gloves. He soon set up an early chance for the home side, with a long clearance almost falling for Bruce to latch onto, but the alert Riverside keeper came out to collect after three minutes.
Merpro opened the scoring when Paton pressurised Deuchars to win the ball and burst into the box at pace, before unselfishly squaring for Jordan Rausch to score and make it 1-0 after 5 minutes.
Merpro’s good start continued, with the Paton and Rausch combination again almost opening up the visiting defence, but the final ball just ran away from the latter.
Riverside were finding it difficult to cope with the Merpro pressing, but came back into the match after being gifted an opportunity. Esposito latched onto a clearance and sent in a perfect cross for Williamson to expertly head home from eight yards, in 11 minutes.
Riverside began to settle and both sides were now testing each other with some fine passing and midfield play.
Christie almost unlocked the visitors defence with an overhead pass, but alert defending cleared the danger in 20 minutes.
Riverside came close with a well-worked move, with Cassidy bursting into the box, but he fired over from 16 yards.
Merpro had another great opening, when Christie latched onto a defensive clearance to set up Paton, but ‘keeper Palladini came out quickly to save at his feet in 25 minutes.
Riverside had a good spell of play but it was Paton who next fired in a 25-yard effort saved by the keeper in 28 minutes.
Merpro had another opportunity from a short corner-kick, which fell for Christie in the box, but his 10-yard snap shot was saved by Palladini.
Merpro had been more than holding their own, but were left reeling when Crozier found himself free to curl an excellent finish into the top of the net in 32 minutes. Both sides continued to push each other with some fine play but defences held firm.
Half-time: Riverside 2, Merpro 1.
Into the second period and Riverside quickly pushed Merpro back, hitting the bar with a 22-yard effort.
Riverside were keeping Merpro pinned back and went further ahead with a quick-fire double of finely-finished goals by Cassidy and Crozier, in 55 and 58 minutes.
Merpro continued to try to find a way back, and Graham set up Paton with a lobbed pass but his goal-bound effort from 12 yards was blocked by Wemyss in 65 minutes.
The match was stretched and Riverside were denied a further goal when Craig Allan made a brilliant lunging tackle to prevent a goal in 70 minutes.
Merpro were next to create, with Graham and Christie combining well to slip a pass in for Rausch, but again the excellent Pallidini anticipated well and came out to collect in 75 minutes.
Merpro were enjoying the best of the latter stages, and Bruce had an opening but fired over the bar in 80 minutes.
Paton made a fine, dribbling run past a couple of players to set up Graham, but once again Pallidini made a good save.
Riverside had the final chance on a breakaway, but Euan Duff capped a fine performance with a brave low save in the last minutes.
Riverside’s strength shone through, as they took command with their second-half performance, eventually running out deserved winners. Merpro continue to improve, however, and received deserved plaudits from their esteemed opponents after the match.
Next match : Uphall Station (h) Scottish Cup 4th Round 1.30 p.m. kick-off.