MERPRO continued to set new standards with a convincing win against Dundee University on Saturday to seal the Midlands Division One League title.
Merpro travelled through to the University Grounds knowing they had to gain two points to make mathematically certain of the Championship.
Last weekend’s top-of-the-table victory over closest rivals Logie Harp almost ensured the title would be heading to Montrose for the first time but Harp pulled back the deficit with a midweek victory and the pressure was back on Merpro to finish the job.
The visitors went into the match with several players doubtful and some injured players missing.
But they got off to a perfect start when Graham set up Euan DUFF to run through and fire past the home ‘keeper from 16 yards to give his side the lead in just five minutes.
The same combination worked again three minutes later, but this time a covering defender managed to block Duff’s attempt at goal.
The students began to settle and a strong defensive wall deflected a dangerous edge of the box free kick past for a corner kick soon afterwards.
Merpro came close again in 18 minutes when an Allan shot swerved wide for Bruce to instinctively head towards goal but the home ‘keeper made a comfortable save.
Merpro began to be pegged back with some good University football and Findlay had to make a couple of excellent saves to keep his goal intact.
Merpro had the ball in the back of the net again in 38 minutes when good play involving Bruce and Cruickshank set up Greig to fire across the face of the goal. Whitworth, lurking at the back post, was declared to be offside as he fired into the net.
Half-time: Dundee University 0, Merpro 1.
Merpro went on the offensive straight from the restart, looking to finish off the match.
Only two minutes into the half Graham made a good run, turning off his marker then firing in a great 20-yard curling shot which rebounded off the post to safety.
The visitors went further ahead on the 50-minute mark when Craig Allan set up a defence-splitting pass for Graham to run through and twist inside a defender before laying off a pass for Sean WHITWORTH. He blasted a left-foot shot on the turn in off the underside of the bar from 10 yards to double the lead.
Merpro were at this point well on top and five minutes later went further ahead when Bruce swung in a perfect left foot curling cross for WHITWORTH to meet and bullet in a header from 10 yards.
The Montrose side looked comfortable and relaxed as they continued to dominate the match.
The fourth goal duly arrived in the 65th minute when good lead-up play from Duff and Whitworth set up Campbell BRUCE to compose himself and calmly slot past the hapless ‘keeper from 12 yards, and in doing so scoring his first ever goal for Merpro.
The visitors continued well on top and created several good openings.
Euan Duff was through on goal on two consecutive occasions and foiled by the ‘keeper both times.
Greig had a golden opportunity in 75 minutes but fired his shot high over the bar.
Bruce emulated his midfield partner with a similar effort a few minutes later.
With 10 minutes left to play Duff came close after the ball rebounded into his path when Duncan’s initial effort had been blocked.
The students continued to play attractive football and were rewarded when a defence-splitting pass allowed their nippy winger in to fire in a low shot past Findlay to deny the clean sheet in 88 minutes.
Merpro had one more chance when a Whitworth effort was charged down with the ball falling for Duncan, but his hooked shot went just past the post in the final minute.
Merpro ran out comfortable winners to seal the first-ever Midlands Championship victory for a Montrose side, heralded at the final whistle amidst jubilant touchline scenes.
Team: Findlay, N. Duff (Gibbon), Houston, C. Allan, Whitworth, G. Allan (Donaldson), Bruce, Greig, E. Duff, Graham (P. Duncan) and Cruickshank, Substitute: Doyle.