A GOAL by just-married David Greenhill denied Montrose all three points in an entertaining clash with Berwick Rangers in their New Year fixture at Shielfield on Monday.
Greenhill, who tied the knot on Saturday, celebrated when he scored just two days after his nuptuals. Ian Little’s side led 1-0 at half-time courtesy of a Michael Deland goal.
But the Gable Endies were much brighter at the start of the second half, drawing level after less than 30 seconds, and there was real hope they could go on and win the contest when they took a 2-1 lead.
But Rangers rallied, and it was the newly-wed Greenhill who saved the day with a 64th minute equaliser.
Darren Gribben might have made it a really Happy New Year for the Borderers, only to be denied by the woodwork.
After the game Montrose manager Ray Farningham said: “I thought we were unlucky to go in at half-time a goal behind, but we started the second half very well and we had our best spell of the match.
“At 2-1 I thought were were in control, but to their credit, Berwick put up a fight, and were the stronger side in the closing stages.
“Both sides went out to win the match, which was to both sides’ credit. It shows just how competitive the league is this year.
“The only disappointment for us was that we lost a goal from a corner and at the moment we are conceding too many goals from set pieces which we don’t defend properly.”
The first half was at times a scrappy affair, with neither side able to stamp their authority on proceedings.
Rangers found success with a series of long balls down the middle, which had the Montrose defence scrambling back to cover, whilst the visitors themselves had some joy from breaks down the right and their ability to get the ball into the box at the first attempt.
Stuart Noble made a good run down the left. He cut inside but his shot was cleared off the line by Alan Campbell.
The breakthrough came after 15 minutes when McDonald controlled a long ball from the back. He squared it to Deland and his shot from an acute angle found the bottom corner.
The opposition front two of Martin Boyle and Scott Johnston were a constant threat, and they were to have a telling impact on the game after the break, but prior to the half-time whistle Boyle forced Stephen Thomson and ‘keeper Jamie Barclay into somehow shadowing him away from goal, whilst Johnston broke up the middle and fired in a shot which was not too far away.
The second half was only 28 seconds old when Johnston struck to bring it back to 1-1. Andy McLean made a hash of a clearance almost straight from kick-off and as Rangers struggled to regain their composure, the front man netted from just six yards out.
Berwick responded with a Kevin McDonald corner which was fired across the goalline without any takers, whilst Noble twisted his way through, only to pull his shot wide.
Montrose then took the lead after 58 minutes, Boyle superbly turning and beating two Berwick players before unleashing an inch-perfect shot into the far corner.
But against the run of play Berwick managed to level it at 2-2, Greenhill finding the net after a corner from McDonald was played back out to him and his second-time cross found the midfielder with the time and space to get off his shot.
The visitors were on top at this stage, and not for the first time under his tenure, Little decided to make changes, bringing on strike pair Gribben and McLaren in place of Noble and Damon Gray.
Within minutes McLaren had lifted a shot over the bar after being fed unselfishly by his fellow substitute, whilst Gribbs himself twice had runs on goal, showing that the Montrose defence was vulnerable.
But it was not all one-way traffic, and the visitors also had chances, most notably through Douglas Cameron, who was left kicking himself after a miss at the back post when he was put off by barclay, and Jamie Winter, who had a low shot from the right which looked only inches wide.
In the end both teams had to settle for a point, but Rangers will know that the first goal they conceded was totally unnecessary.
Montrose: Wood, Crighton, Cameron, Campbell, Smart, Masson, Young (Crawford 81), Winter, Boyle, Johnston, McGowan (Pierce 85).
Referee: Euan Anderson.