Cup exit for nine-man Merpro

Merpro exited the North of Tay Cup after losing out to near neighbours Portcullis from Arbroath.

Both sides exhibited good passing inter-play but in a fluctuating, tempestuous match the Montrose side largely contributed to their own downfall as a result of having two players sent off and finishing the match with only nine men.

Merpro started slowly and Portcullis dominated in the initial stages.

The visitors went ahead when the home side failed to clear and the ball found McCACH free to run in on goal and calmly open the scoring after only four minutes.

Portcullis went further ahead in 12 minutes, hitting Merpro on the break, and although Scott Robertson managed to make a scrambled block the rebound fell for the alert McCACH to curl a low finish from 15 yards.

Merpro gradually found their rhythm and began to dominate the rest of the first half.

Graham broke through from a defence-splitting Allan pass and as he drew out the ‘keeper he passed inside for Duff. His pass was intercepted by the covering defenders and a good opportunity was lost in 24 minutes.

Merpro were now well on top and ‘keeper Cargill saved his side in 27 minutes with an excellent reaction save from a close range Euan Duff header following a Bruce long throw.

Merpro’s good play was rewarded when they were awarded a penalty after a handball offence and Craig ALLAN stepped up to score in 32 minutes.

Merpro equalised in 34 minutes with a quickfire double when Euan DUFF picking up a pass in midfield turned and shrugged off a defender to fire a thunderous rising shot from 25 yards into the top of the net.

A fluctuating first half initially dominated by the visitors finished with the home side well on top.

Half-time: Merpro 2, Portcullis 2.

Merpro’s second half optimism turned to annoyance in the 47th minute. An off the ball incident involving McLeod and Greig resulted in the latter being sent off after retaliating, but the referee had failed to spot the initial provocation and the wily Portcullis player escaped punishment.

The visitors gradually took control and made their extra man count. They went ahead in 55 minutes after a pass was slipped into the box with Gall blocking. NICOLL quickly pounced on it and sent a cross which swung into the top of the net.

Scott Robertson glanced a back post header off the side of the upright following a Graham free kick in 65 minutes.

Graham had a mazy run on the edge of the box before being crowded out and a free kick awarded. His edge of the box effort, however, was deflected over the bar to safety in 67 minutes. From the resultant corner kick the ball fell for Graham but the ‘keeper did well to save from his snap shot.

Merpro had a great chance to equalise in 74 minutes when Graham broke through down the left flank, cutting inside covering defenders but his left foot shot was directed straight at the ‘keeper and his rebound effort was also well saved by the custodian.

Portcullis went up the park in 76 minutes and extended their lead following good play. The ever-dangerous Atkinson drifted past a couple of challenges on the left flank, cut inside and laid off a pass for TRIGGS to shoot home from close range.

Merpro came back into the match with 10 minutes to play when Scott GRAHAM picked up an Allan pass to run in on goal and finished with a direct shot from 15 yards.

McDougall made a good run into the heart of the visiting defence but failed to connect properly with his effort from a good position. Play was open as both sides attacked and Gall made another good save.

Merpro were rocked further when N. Duff, after making two strong challenges, was harshly deemed to have raised his studs and given his marching orders.

Merpro continued to scrap for the equaliser but the developing Portcullis side, which included some good young players, held out.

Team: Gall, Houston, S. Robertson (Petrie), Allan, Lownie, N. Duff, Bruce, Greig, E. Duff, Graham, J. Robertson (McDougall). Substitutes: Whyte and Wood.

Match sponsor: R. Coull and Son.