Montrose Football Club were knocked out of the League Cup at the hands of Championship side Falkirk at Links Park on Saturday.
In the sides’ first meeting in six years, it was the home side who shocked their opponents by taking a 25th minute lead through captain Garry Wood.
But the visitors fought back to win the tie, with the final sealing goal only arriving with two minutes remaining.
Montrose can be proud of their efforts in a vastly improved performance on the previous week’s match against Peterhead.
They must now look to take this form into the their first league match of the season at home to East Stirlingshire on Saturday.
After the Peterhead defeat, George Shields made two changes to his line-up as well as changing the form,ation to a 4–2–3–1. Out went the suspended Graham Webster and Stephen O’Neil – in came Terry Masson and for his debut, ex-Stirling Albion wide man Stephen Day.
The Gable Endies lined up with McKenzie in goal with Masson and Bell in full back roles. Graham and Campbell were in the heart of the defence. Robb and Watson sat in front of the defence with Johnston, McCord and Day playing behind loan striker Garry Wood.
Montrose had two new signings on the bench – Paul Harkins, signed from Elgin City, and 18-year-old centre half Declan O’Kane, signed on the eve of the match on loan from Dunfermline Athletic. They were joined on the bench by Deasley, Cavanagh, O’Neil, Wilson and goalkeeper John McCafferty.
Falkirk put out a strong side that contained ex-Hearts goalkeeper Jamie Macdonald as well as Alan Maybury and Tom Taiwo – both playing in the Premiership with Hibs last season. The side also contained the youthful talent of Blair Alston, Conor McGrandles and Alex Cooper.
Falkirk were quickly into action at Links Park with Taiwo playing the ball wide to Cooper, but he sent his cross sailing over the crossbar.
The Gable Endies created their first opening in the 10th minute. Robb played the ball into the feet of Wood inside the area, and he played the ball back to Paul Watson, but he couldn’t keep his shot down and blazed the ball over the bar from 25 yards out.
Montrose almost grabbed the opening goal in the 13th minute, whenMasson played a delightful ball over the Falkirk defence to find Stephen Day, and the debutant cracked an effort just over the crossbar.
A run from Alston caused problems for Montrose, and his cross was put out by Graham for a corner. Alex Cooper swung over the corner kick, but captain David McCracken headed over the bar.
It was Montrose who shocked their championship opponents by opening the scoring in the 25th minute.
Terry Masson did brilliantly to fire over a cross from the touchline. Ex-Hearts goalkeeper Jamie Macdonald fumbled the cross onto the bar and GARRY WOOD was on hand at the back post to head the ball home from a yard out, much to the delight of his team-mates.
Unfortunately, the lead wasn’t to last long, as Falkirk grabbed an equaliser with a disputed penalty five minutes later.
Durojaiye appeared to foul a Montrose player before bursting into the box and being felled by a strong tackle by Craig Bell. It appeared soft, but referee John Beaton pointed to the spot despite the protests of the Montrose players. Bell was booked and BLAIR ALSTON sent McKenzie the wrong way from the penalty spot.
In the 36th minute Ross McCord was fouled after a late tackle some 30 yards out, but his 25 yard free kick went past the near post.
Falkirk’s dangerman Alex Cooper then out-foxed Craig Bell before firing in a shot from the angle which was beaten away by McKenzie.
After holding their own for most of the first half, Montrose suffered a blow in stoppage time when Falkirk took the lead for the first time.
The dangerous ALEX COOPER was allowed freedom inside the box and his shot took a deflection before finding its way past Stuart McKenzie and into the net.
Half-time: Montrose 1, Falkirk 2.
In the 47th minute, Montrose carved out an opportunity. Wood flicked a Bell throw in to Ross McCord who raced into the box before lobbing the ball over MacDonald and also the crossbar.
Montrose were nearly made to pay in the following minute when they lost possession to Alex Cooper, but he fired in an effort low off the post and behind.
With 50 minutes gone, Johnston slipped through a great ball to Garry Wood, but his low effort was blocked by the visiting defence.
Montrose went so close to the equaliser in the 52nd minute. It was Terry Masson who broke from his full back position and his cross was cut out by Liam Dick just before it came to the unmarked Scott Johnston inside the area.
In the 56th minute, Montrose claimed for a penalty kick after McCord appeared to be fouled in the box, but referee Beaton was having none of it and play continued.
Three minutes later, the visitors again hit woodwork. This time, it was Conor McGrandles who hit the bar from a Cooper cut-back.
On the hour mark, Montrose had another good opportunity to grab the equaliser Ross McCord gathered a Bell pass and his first effort was blocked by a defender, but the midfielder gathered the rebound only to send his chip straight at Macdonald.
Seconds later Terry Masson became the second Montrose player to be booked for a foul on Cooper.
Johnston then gathered a kick out from McKenzie and found Masson with a great overlapping run, but unfortunately MacDonald blocked his great effort.
Garry Wood gathered in the McCord’s corner kick turned and fired just over the bar from inside the area.
Four minutes later, as Falkirk went for the kill, Botti Biabi found himself through on goal with only McKenzie to beat, but the Montrose Number One did well to tackle the striker inside box and put the ball out for a throw in.
Seconds later, manager George Shields made his first change of the afternoon, with Paul Harkins making his Montrose debut in place of Steven Robb.
Harkins quickly showed his ability with a great run from inside his own half, but as the goal opened up in front of him he chose to try and find Wood, but a Falkirk defender cut out the danger and the chance went.
Montrose’s second change arrived with 15 minutes left when Bryan Deasley replaced Wood. Falkirk then sent on Craig Sibbald for Blair Alston.
Falkirk almost grabbed a third goal in the 77th minute when a chip from Conor McGrandles was netbound, until Terry Masson got back to hook the ball wide of the post.
With seven minutes left, Montrose made their third switch of the afternoon when Stephen O’Neil replaced Stephen Day.
At the same time, the visitors brought on Scott Shephard for Botti Biabi.
It was SCOTT SHEPHARD who would seal victory for Falkirk with two minutes remaining when he knocked home a McGrandles cut-back and put an end to the spirited Montrose efforts in the second half.
Montrose: McKenzie, Masson, Bell, Watson, Graham, Campbell, Johnston, Robb (Harkins), Wood (Deasley), McCord, Day (O’Neil) Subs, not used – Cavanagh, Wilson, O’Kane and McCafferty.