MONTROSE Football Club again matched a top two side on Saturday but came away pointless from Galabank after giving 10-man Annan Athletic a two-goal start before they fought themselves back into the match.
On a pitch that was barely playable due to heavy rain the home side did enough to remain top of the table, despite Montrose having the majority of the play.
After the draw with Alloa the previous week manager Ray Farningham kept an unchanged line up but switched to 4-4-2. The back four saw Crighton and Cameron as full backs with Smart and Lunan in central defence. McNally was on the right side of midfield with Lloyd Young on the left. Masson and Winter were in the centre. Boyle partnered Johnston in attack.
The home side immediately had a good scoring chance. A mistake let in Sean O’Connor but from the edge of the area he dragged his shot wide.
Seconds later Montrose had an opportunity. McNally crossed from the right and Masson, then Young and Johnston all had shots blocked as the home defence struggled.
In the fourth minute Cameron used route one to lob the ball forward to Boyle but the flag was raised quickly by far side assistant Brian McGarry.
Montrose thought they had opened the scoring in the 15th minute. Annan cleared a corner from Winter but only as far as Young who was brought down. Cameron swung over the free kick. Johnston headed on and Boyle came in at the far post to slam the ball into the roof of the net, only for assistant McGarry to raise his flag for offside.
With 20 minutes gone Annan had another great chance. Sloan again cut inside Cameron but this time his shot had air on it and Wood was able to tip the ball over the crossbar. From Cox’s corner Wood was fouled and the danger was gone.
Montrose created another opportunity when Johnston squared to strike partner Boyle and his shot was blocked for a corner. Cameron sent over an in swinging corner that ‘keeper Mitchell held well.
The home side opened the scoring in the 33rd minute. O’CONNOR was allowed to turn and get in a shot by Smart. His right foot effort found the bottom corner for Annan’s first goal in five games.
It got worse for Montrose two minutes later when the home side scored again. This time a passing move saw Harty lay the ball off into the path of O’CONNOR who sent a first time shot into the top corner with Wood well beaten.
Captain Cameron was booked for what must have been dissent towards referee Greig Aitken after Montrose weren’t awarded a free kick when McNally seemed clearly fouled.
Half-time: Annan 2, Montrose 0.
Montrose started the second half and immediately had an opportunity. Cameron swung over a cross wide to Winter who found McNally inside the box and from a wide position he sent a low effort inches wide of the far post.
In the 48th minute Annan defender Gibson was booked for a foul on Young. Winter took the free kick and found Johnston inside the area with his back to goal. He turned and clipped just wide.
With 54 minutes gone Montrose got themselves back into the match. Crighton whipped a cross into the area and Muirhead pulled Boyle down as the striker tried to turn inside the six yard area. Referee Aitken immediately showed Muirhead red, reducing Annan Athletic to 10 men.
JAMIE WINTER blasted the ball home from the spot for his seventh goal of the season.
Terry Masson was the second Montrose player to be yellow carded for a crunching midfield tackle on former Stranraer midfielder Danny Mitchell.
Boyle tried to run clear on a McNally through ball but he was held back by Peter Watson who was yellow carded by referee Aitken.
From Winter’s free kick Jonathan Smart headed wide and another chance was gone.
Annan made a first change of the afternoon, taking off two-goal Sean O’Connor and bringing on Jordan McKechnie.
McNally was at the heart of everything for Montrose as they went in search of an equaliser. He was next to have a go at goal when ‘keeper Alex Mitchell held his header from a Lunan cross.
In the 70th minute Boyle picked up yellow after he went head to head with an Annan Athletic player after another solid tackle on the youngster that he didn’t like.
Three minutes later, Annan’s left back Michael McGowan picked up the sixth booking of the match when he completely missed the ball and kicked Scott Johnston on the leg instead.
With 15 minutes to go Montrose had three up front when Steven McPhee came on in place of Young. Boyle moved to the right with Johnston going central and McPhee taking up a left wing position.
It almost paid off when McNally again sent Boyle scampering up the right and his low cross just required a touch but McPhee just missed the ball.
In the 85th minute the home side made another change taking off David Cox for midfielder Bryan Gilfillan.
Mr Farningham took off Sean Crighton and brought on Sean Pierce. This meant three at the back Lunan, Smart and Cameron with Pierce pushed upfront as a fourth attacker.
Montrose’s last chance to snatch a point came with two minutes remaining when McPhee won a corner kick which Winter took, Annan cleared Winter got a second opportunity. This time the goalscorer found Paul Lunan but he could only shoot wide.
Montrose: Wood, Crighton (Pierce), Cameron, Smart, Lunan, Masson, McNally, Winter, Boyle, Johnston, Young (McPhee) Substitutes not used – Crawford, McGowan and Andrews.