EAST STIRLINGSHIRE ............0
Montrose Football Club returned to Links Park for their first home fixture in five weeks on Saturday.
And they secured an excellent victory against league leaders East Stirlingshire.
It was East Stirlingshire’s first away defeat of the season and it took Montrose back into the top four only two points behind the Shire.
After a slow opening, the Gable Endies struck first blood with an own goal just past the hour mark and never really looked back, adding a second thanks to a stunning strike from Terry Masson at the start of the second.
It was a tough physical match against a very much improved East Stirlingshire and took Montrose recent run to four wins in five games. They have the chance to put the pressure on the leaders when Queen’s Park visit Links Park in a re-arranged league fixture on Tuesday night.
With injuries still ruling out Alan Campbell and on-loan Gareth Rodger, plus Lloyd Young unavailable due to a change in his work situation, Montrose were unchanged for the third match in a row. Montrose lined up with McKenzie in goal, McNally and McIntosh in the full back positions, Crawford and Wilson were again in central defence, David Gray was on the right wing and Johnston playing down the left, Masson and Watson were again the midfield pairing and Wood and Deasley were in attack.
The bench was the same, as Forthbank with goalkeeper Sandy Wood joined by Webster, McCord, Bonar, Sturrock and Bell.
The visitors line up included former Montrose midfielder David Greenhill.
Montrose had a great chance to open the scoring in the third minute of the match - Garry Wood took hold of the ball inside his home half and went on a great run up the left channel, he then cut inside and played in Bryan Deasley, who was onside with only Hay to beat, but the ‘keeper pulled off a great save to push the ball over the bar.
Scott Johnston became the first booking of the afternoon for a touchline tackle on Kevin Turner, but Maxwell wasted the free kick.
Montrose opened the scoring in the 35th minute, after a good passing move the ball landed at the feet of Garry Wood he fired in a low effort, which beat Shire ‘keeper Grant Hay, and in trying to keep the ball out of the net, visiting full back MICHAEL McGOWAN only succeeded in knocking the ball over the line.
Seconds after taking the lead, Montrose almost handed a goal to East Stirlingshire on a plate. Terry Masson gave away the ball on the edge of his own area and it broke to Kevin Turner, who sent an effort just wide of the far post with McKenzie beaten.
In the final minute of the first half, Montrose cut open the visitors’ defence when Johnston and Gray linked up to find Paul Watson who blasted an effort just over the crossbar from 25 yards out.
Half-time: Montrose 1, East Stirlingshire 0.
McKenzie sent out a quick throw which sent Johnston away, he slipped a great pass to the overlapping McIntosh and his cross was headed behind by Maxwell for a corner. Gray sent over an inswinging corner kick only for Watson to head wide.
Right back Graham McGregor sliced a clearance high into the area and when it landed it was controlled brilliantly by TERRY MASSON who took a couple of strides forward before planting a tremendous left-foot half volley into the bottom corner of the net from just outside the box for his first goal of the season.
Ex-Montrose player David Greenhill had a chance for the visitors on the hour mark but he could only stab his volley into the arms of McKenzie. Sixty seconds later, Michael McGowan got on the end of a Maxwell corner but headed wide at the far post.
East Stirlingshire made their first change of the afternoon shortly afterwards, bringing on Michael Herd in place of Greenhill.
Paul Watson became the second Montrose player to be booked when he brought down Herd on the edge of the area in the 65th minute, but luckily for Montrose O’Donoghue’s free kick hit off the wall.
With 15 minutes remaining East Stirlingshire made a second change bringing on David McCaughie for Jordan McKechnie. Three minutes later, Montrose made their first switch when Graham Webster came on to replace David Gray.
Montrose had a chance to score a third goal with five minutes remaining, Masson Webster played a pass inside to Masson and he ran across the face of the area before finding Garry Wood, who turned and fired in a shot which was deflected wide.
With three minutes remaining, Shire made a final switch, Rhys Devlin came on to replace O’Donoghue.
Substitute Graham Webster had a late chance to seal what was a fine Montrose victory when he gathered the ball before firing just over Hay’s crossbar.
Montrose: McKenzie, McNally, McIntosh, Crawford, Wilson, Masson, Gray (Webster), Watson, Wood, Deasley, Johnston. Subs, not used - L. McCord, Bonar, Sturrock, Bell and S. Wood