A second half collapse against champions elect Peterhead at Balmoor Stadium on Saturday finally ended Montrose Football Club’s chances of making the play-offs.
With four matches left, the Gable Endies find themselves some nine points behind Stirling Albion after another highly disappointing match.
Going in at the break, Montrose had more than matched Jim McInally’s side, but come full time, the gulf in class between the two sides was clearly there for both sides to see.
Once the Blue Toon men got their noses in front on 63 minutes, there was only going to be one winner as the Montrose players’ heads went down and the side succumbed to their second heavy defeat in a week – seven days after the 3–0 home loss to Elgin City.
The Gable Endies made one change to the side that lost to Elgin, with captain Garry Wood replacing Ricky McIntosh. This saw a complete change to the back four set-up.
Montrose lined up with McKenzie in goal with Crawford at right and Campbell left-back. Wilson and Wood were in central defence to combat the height of McAllister.
Gray was on the left of midfield with Webster on the right. Masson and Watson were in the centre of midfield with Johnston and Deasley in attack.
With Lewis Bonar suffering with tonsillitis, the bench consisted of McIntosh, Sturrock, Duguid, McCord, Bell and McCafferty.
Conditions were blustery at Balmoor as the visitors got the match under way against the league leaders, shooting with the wind in their favour.
In the fifth minute, Montrose won a free kick when Deasley’s run was halted by Strachan. Gray swung over the kick, but it was too strong and the ball went out of play. McAllister then thought he was through on goal, but the offside flag was quite rightly put up.
In the eighth minute, Graham Webster let fly for Montrose from the edge of the box, but his volley was saved by Graeme Smith.
Montrose continuedto keep up the pressure, and in the 12th minute David Gray collected a cross from Deasley flicked the ball up, but volleyed straight at Smith in the home goal.
Two minutes later, Montrose won a free kick when Masson was fouled by Redman. Paul Watson took the free kick from some 40 yards out, but his effort was cleared by the Peterhead wall.
With 19 minutes gone, the home side won a free kick when Colin Wilson upended McAllister. Strachan played a clever free kick wide to McAllister and his cross was headed goalwards by Gilfillan, but McKenzie was able to punch clear from under his crossbar.
McKenzie then did well when he dived to save at the feet of Rory McAllister after the striker broke into the box.
Montrose had a let off with 25 minutes gone, when a slack pass back from Colin Wilson put the ball on a plate for McAllister, but thankfully for Montrose, the normally deadly hitman hit his shot off the base of the post.
Three minutes later, Bryan Gilfillan became the first player to be booked after he showed dissent to referee Des Roache after a decision had gone against him.
Sixty seconds later, and Montrose had a chance when the ball was headed down into the path of Terry Masson, but he fired over at the angle.
Paul Watson became the first Montrose player of the afternoon to be yellow carded after he too showed dissent towards referee Roache.
Montrose had the best opportunity of the first half to score with four minutes of the half to go. A McKenzie goal kick caught in the wind and Johnston headed the ball down to Bryan Deasley at the edge of the box. He took a touch, but his effort was just inches over the crossbar when it looked easier to score.
Manager Stuart Garden made a change for Montrose at the start of the second half when he brought on Ricky McKenzie on the left hand side of midfield for David Gray.
Three minutes into the second half, referee Roache called back play for a late challenge by Campbell on Brown. Rory McAllister took the free kick, but Stuart McKenzie was equal to the task and tipped the ball around the post.
Peterhead made a change in the 50th minute, taking off former Montrose player Graeme Sharp and replacing him with Ryan McCann.
Despite defending well for the first hour, Montrose conceded the opening goal in the 63rd minute. Ryan Strachan was allowed all the time in the world to take a touch and chip the ball wind assisted over the head of Stuart McKenzie and into the net.
Before play continued, Peterhead made their second change, with Bryan Gilfillan making way for ex-Gable Endie Fraser McLaren.
Peterhead scored a second goal in the 67th minute. A free kick from goalkeeper Graeme Smith was missed in the wind by Wilson, Wood and Campbell, and quick as a flash, Rory McAliister was in, taking one touch to control and another to knock the ball past McKenzie and into the unguarded net for a killer second goal.
Five minutes later, the visitors won a corner kick when a Watson cross found the head of Webster, whose effort was deflected over. Deasley’s corner didn’t get past the front post, and Peterhead cleared easily.
Montrose had another opportunity to get on the scoresheet in the 79th minute when Scott Johnston when on a strong run and found Deasley, but his shot was held by Smith.
Peterhead had the sign of champions about them and they added another goal in the 82ndminute which was again down to poor defending.
Left back Steven Noble was allowed to run the length of the park unchallenged, and in attempting to clear the cross, Ricky McIntosh succeeded in finding the back of his own net from six yards out.
Peterhead then made their final change of the afternoon, bringing on David Cox on his return from injury in place of Andy Rodgers.
Salt was rubbed in the wounds of the Gable Endies with four minutes remaining when Peterhead added a fourth goal. David Cox crossed from the right, and despite the efforts of McKenzie, he couldn’t keep out Rory McAllister’s header and 27th goal of another prolific season.
Montrose: McKenzie, Crawford, Campbell, Wilson, Wood, Masson, Webster, Watson, Johnston, Deasley, Gray (McIntosh) Subs not used – Sturrock, Duguid, McCord, Bell and McCafferty.