Montrose Football Club failed to build on Tuesday night’s moral-boosting victory over Berwick Rangers when they lost heavily to East Fife on Saturday.
After a good first half it looked as though Montrose could take something from the match, but they conceded a late first half goal and once that had happened there was going to be only one winner.
Montrose remain only three points off a play-off spot but this is more due to the dog-eat-dog situation in the league than any good Montrose performances.
After the victory over Berwick Rangers, Montrose kept an unchanged line-up but there were three changes on the bench. Out went trialist Steven Milne, Steven Robb and Kieran Sturrock and into the side came Polish signing Leszek Nowosielski after his clearance had come through, Alan Campbell returning after injury and Danny Cavanagh.
East Fife hadn’t been having a good season and had won only two home matches, but had beaten Montrose 4–0 at Links Park in September.
East Fife created an early chance but Ross Brown’s shot was blocked by a defender.
Montrose won a free kick by the corner flag when Deasley was fouled. McCord swung over the free kick but ‘keeper Fleming held easily.
On 25 minutes the Methil side won a free kick just outside the box when Wood held back Campbell. Thankfully for Montrose Scott Smith blasted his free kick low into the Montrose wall.
The Gable Endies had their first opening in the 28th minute when a pass from McCord broke to Paul Watson who let fly from 30 yards out, only for Fleming to push his effort to the side.
Captain Garry Wood broke out of defence and tried his luck from 25 yards out, only to see his shot go wide of the far post.
Ross McCord picked up the first booking of the afternoon when he fouled Ross Campbell.
With five minutes of a largely uninspiring first half left, Terry Masson went on a great run for Montrose and as the gap opened up in front of him he fired wide from 25 yards when he could have continued with his run.
Two minutes later as Montrose continued to press forward Johnston and Deasley worked a one-two on the edge of the East Fife box and when the ball came back to the Montrose number 11 he appeared to be in a perfect position to score but he could only lash widely over the crossbar from 10 yards out.
With one minute of the first half remaining disaster struck for Montrose when East Fife scored a totally avoidable goal.
The home side took a quick throw-in. Smith crossed deep into the box and with Wood and Crawford going for the same ball in the air it fell kindly for ROSS CAMPBELL who took his time before firing past McKenzie.
Half-time: East Fife 1, Montrose 0.
In the 48th minute Montrose should have equalised. Ross McCord won a corner kick which he took himself. The ball landed perfectly for Jonathan Crawford but the centre half could only head over when it seemed easier to score.
East Fife made a switch in the 55th minute when they took off the injured Scott Smith and replaced him with Jon McShane. East Fife’s Lewis Barr was booked for a foul on Bryan Deasley as Montrose continued their search for the equaliser.
On the hour mark Garry Wood was outpaced by East Fife striker Kevin Smith down the right but his near post shot was tipped around the post by McKenzie. From Fraser Mullen’s corner kick Jon McShane headed the ball across the goal and as the Montrose defence watched KEVIN SMITH was on hand to bullet home a close range header.
Four minutes later substitute Jon McShane was booked for a dive in a blatant effort to win a free kick for his side.
Leighton McIntosh then laid off a great pass to Ross McCord but he only succeeded in firing over the East Fife crossbar and another chance had gone.
In the 67th minute Montrose made their first change of the match giving a debut to Polish under-20 midfielder Leszek Nowosielski who came on for Terry Masson. Montrose made a further change in the 73rd minute when Danny Cavanagh came on for Scott Johnston.
With eight minutes left Montrose made their third and final switch with Stephen Day replacing Bryan Deasley. Three minutes later the crime count continued with East Fife’s Mullen and Montrose’s Jonathan Crawford booked after a flare up on the far side of the pitch.
Seconds later the home side replaced goalscorer Ross Campbell with Alan Cook.
The salt was rubbed into the Montrose wounds in the final minute of the match when Stuart McKenzie flattened Kevin Smith inside the box as the two contested a high ball to give East Fife a penalty kick. Thankfully for Montrose referee Grant Irvine saw fit to only yellow card the Montrose goalkeeper but JON McSHANE handed out the final action of the game despatching the penalty kick with McKenzie going the wrong way.
Montrose: McKenzie, Webster, Graham, Crawford, Wood, McCord, Masson (Nowosielski), Watson, Johnston (Cavanagh), McIntosh, Deasley (Day) Substitutes not used: O’Neil, Harkins, Campbell and McGovern.