Montrose FC’s unbeaten start to the season was ended by derby neighbours Arbroath at Gayfield Park on Saturday in a match watched by a healthy crowd of over 1,100.
The Gable Endies didn’t take early chances and Alan Moore’s side were worthy winners. Defensive errors cost George Shields’ men although it appeared that the home side were more up for the fixture.
Bryan Deasley missed a sitter in the opening 10 minutes and once Arbroath hit a quick double it was an uphill struggle.
The victory took Arbroath six points clear of Montrose although the Gable Endies have a game in hand.
Montrose made three changes after the home victory over Annan Athletic. Alan Campbell was injured, Scott Johnston was unavailable and missed his first game for over a season and Stephen Day dropped to the bench. Into the Montrose side came Jonathan Crawford, Steven Robb and Bryan Deasley.
The Arbroath line-up contained ex-Montrose ‘keeper David Crawford. Simon Murray, son of ex-Montrose legend Gary, was on the bench.
The Gable Endies lined up with McKenzie in goal and Masson and Graham in full-back roles. Crawford and O’Kane teamed up in central defence for the first time. O’Neil and Deasley were in the wide midfield roles with Robb and Watson in the middle. Wood and Harkins were in attack. On the bench for Montrose were Day, Webster, McCord, Bell, Wilson, Cavanagh and McCafferty.
Montrose got the derby under way with the Gayfield wind in their favour.
Mo’ had a perfect opportunity to open the scoring in the seventh minute. A Harkins pass wide to the left put Bryan Deasley through on goal with only Crawford to beat but the striker fired his effort straight at the ‘keeper.
Despite the pressure the home side fired the derby into life in the 14th minute. With the Montrose defence claiming offside BOBBY LINN was allowed to collect a McManus pass and he calmly rounded Stuart McKenzie and stroked the ball into the empty net. Linn celebrated his goal in front of the Montrose support and was booked by referee Alan Newlands.
In 22 minutes Montrose gave away a needless free kick in a wide area after Declan O’Kane fouled Paul McManus who was going nowhere. Scott McBride curled in the kick and KEVIN BUCHAN fired into the net from point bank range inside the six yard box.
Home ‘keeper Crawford was injured inside the box but he was able to continue after treatment.
In the 34th minute Montrose should have pulled a goal back. Harkins was again the provider when he raced into the box and laid the ball back to Terry Masson who could only blat over the crossbar.
With five minutes of the half remaining Montrose had another good chance when Stephen O’Neil slid a pass into the box but the wind was too strong and it raced away from Garry Wood who was yellow carded for his challenge on David Crawford, soon to be replaced by Scott Morrison.
Declan O’Kane became the second Montrose player to be booked, in first half stoppage time for a trip on Scott McBride.
Half-time: Arbroath 2, Montrose 0.
Montrose looked to hit back right at the start of the second half and Robb passed the ball to Harkins who slid the ball through to Wood but he blasted a shot over the bar.
The Gable Endies came even closer 60 seconds later. Bryan Deasley was fouled by Whately just outside the box and Stephen O’Neil stepped up to take the free kick. His effort beat the wall but hit the post.
Montrose were keeping up the pressure and Paul Watson was next to have a go when he curled inside the area only to fire an effort wide of the post.
In the 61st minute Arbroath made a change bringing on ex-Montrose player Simon Murray for Kevin Buchan.
The change had an immediate effect and within 60 seconds MURRAY had made it three. O’Kane dived into a tackle on the half-way line and it gave the youngster all the time he needed to race into the box, round McKenzie and blast the ball into the roof of the net.
Graham Webster replaced Steven Robb for Montrose. George Shields made his second change bringing on Stephen Day for Bryan Deasley.
In the 73rd minute Craig Johnstone handled a ball to stop Webster getting away and surprisingly wasn’t booked. O’Neil took the free kick and Stephen Day stabbed a shot into the arms of Morrison.
Montrose made their final change in the 77th minute when Danny Cavanagh replaced Paul Harkins.
McKenzie then headed a clearance straight to Simon Murray’s path but his shot from 30 yards just cleared the crossbar.
With 10 minutes remaining Arbroath made their third change when Jack Smith replaced Paul McManus.
Montrose grabbed a consolation goal in the 82nd minute. Stephen Day got clear on the left and his cross was missed by the Arbroath ‘keeper. Graham WEBSTER came in at the far post to bullet home a header for his first goal of the season.
Stephen O’Neil became the third Montrose player to be booked for a late tackle on Jack Smith.
Montrose had claims for a penalty waved away when Stephen Day was tripped inside the area after he latched onto a Webster cross but the flag was already up for offside.
Despite their best efforts Montrose couldn’t force another goal and their afternoon was summed up in the second minute of stoppage when Declan O’Kane needlessly took Simon Murray out of the game and received a straight red card to end a miserable day for him, his team-mates and Gable Endie supporters.
MONTROSE – McKenzie, Masson, Graham, O’Kane, Crawford, Watson, O’Neil, Robb (Webster), Wood, Harkins (Cavanagh), Deasley (Day) Subs not used – McCord, Bell, Wilson, McCafferty.