MONTROSE FC were on the verge of giving league leaders Rangers a shock result on Saturday, writes Sarah McLean.
A crowd of 4,205 packed into Links Park for the first visit of Rangers to Montrose since the mid-1970s, and they were treated to a six-goal thriller.
After going 1-0 up just 15 minutes in with a goal from Lloyd Young, Montrose looked the stronger side for much of the game, despite the eventual 4-2 scoreline in favour of Rangers.
Montrose had the first clear-cut chance of the game, with Garry Wood looking like he might make a repeat of his early goal at Ibrox in September.
However, his thunderbolt shot went over the top of the bar just over a minute into the game.
Jamie Winter was next to take a shot for the home side, but his right-footed drive was unfortunate to go wide of the post.
Rangers could have taken the lead in the seventh minute, but Montrose ‘keeper Sandy Wood was quick to stop Andy Little’s attempt from the penalty area.
As the game reached the 15-minute mark, Stephen McNally passed to Young from the right wing, with Young sending his volley into the back of the net past Rangers ‘keeper Neil Alexander.
Two minutes later, Little had another attempt for Rangers, but was again denied by the Montrose ‘keeper.
However, Montrose gave away a cheap penalty just after the 20-minute mark, when McNally brought down David Templeton in the box.
Rangers’ captain Lee McCulloch stepped up to take the penalty, and he sent the ‘keeper the wrong way to net his 17th goal of the season.
Garry Wood almost pulled one back to take Montrose into the lead again, but it just was not his day, as he saw the shot miss right.
Lewis MacLeod responded in the 26th minute, but Sandy Wood was quick to block the shot once again.
On the 30-minute mark, Young was close to taking a second goal, but Alexander managed to just tip the ball over the bar to safety.
Ten minutes later, following some excellent play between Young and Garry Wood, the midfielder almost scored yet again only to fire wide.
Jamie Winter came close in injury time with a 35-yard free kick, but Alexander dived just in time to push it wide.
Half-time: Montrose 1, Rangers 1.
Just after the break, Sandy Wood was immediately called into action but did well to deny Dean Shiels’ attempt.
Now fiercely on the attack, Rangers came close to taking the lead with a strong volley from Templeton, but Sandy Wood saved the day once again.
Rangers made their first substitution of the game in the 62nd minute, when manager Ally McCoist brought on Barrie McKay to replace David Templeton.
The move seemed to have worked, as the visitors broke the deadlock in the 66th minute with a Kevin Kyle goal, following a Dean Shiels assist.
Just two minutes later, Rangers extended their lead when Dean Shiels found the net with an assist from McKay.
With 15 minutes left to go, Montrose shortened Rangers’ lead with a goal from David Gray.
Just a few moments after coming on as a sub, Gray latched onto the ball from a Leighton McIntosh pass with a stunning strike over Alexander and into the net.
Montrose were determined to take away at least a point from the game, and there were more chances for Garry Wood, but Alexander was quick to block.
Substitute Scott Johnston came close in added time, but his 12-yard shot hit the inside of the post.
In the closing gasps of the game, Rangers restored their two-goal lead when youngster Robbie Crawford beat the Montrose ‘keeper with the rebound from a McKay attempt.
Montrose boss Stuart Garden was sure that his side deserved at least a point from the game.
He said: “I thought we played well and deserved to get at least something out of it.
“Rangers’ second goal was very preventable from our point of view and we could have cleared it.
“The third goal actually came out of our corner, which was disappointing, but Rangers went right into the attack and Barrie McKay has good pace on him.”
Garden also had praise for goalkeeper Sandy Wood, who worked hard to keep Montrose in the game: “Sandy did really well, and he made a couple of really important saves especially in the first half.”
Now looking ahead to Wednesday (tonight’s) re-arranged postponed match away to East Stirlingshire, Garden is hoping for three points to take his side back on track: “I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s a good chance for us to get back to winning ways.
“We’ve not had a particularly good track record down there as long as I’ve been at the club, so I’m looking at this as a chance to put this right.”
Montrose: Sandy Wood, Stephen McNally, Paul Watson, Jonathan Crawford, Alan Campbell, Jamie Winter, Lloyd Young, Terry Masson, Leighton McIntosh, Garry Wood, Ricky McIntosh. Subs – Scott Johnston, Craig McLeish, David Gray, Scott Morton, David Crawford.
Rangers: Neil Alexander, Anestis Argyriou, Chris Hegarty, Lewis MacLeod, Lee Wallace, Lee McCulloch, Andrew Little, Kyle Hutton, Kevin Kyle, Dean Shiels, David Templeton. Subs – Barrie McKay, Kal Naismith, Darren Cole, Robbie Crawford, Blaire Currie.