Vale of Earn 1,
MERPRO travelled through to Crieff on Saturday on Scottish Cup duty and came home with a fine win under their belts.
Vale of Earn have a good recent pedigree, having won the prestigious North of Tay Cup at Dens Park a couple of seasons ago.
On a fine sunny day both sides served up a close match until the latter stages as Merpro came from behind with a build-up of second half pressure to clinch victory.
Vale of Earn started well and came close when a Brock header from a long throw came back off the bar in just two minutes.
Soon after, Findlay made an excellent low save from another back post header.
Merpro began to settle and forced a couple of free kicks on the edge of the box without troubling the home ‘keeper.
Houston floated in a cross and Sellar’s header from 10 yards was glanced wide.
Midway through the half Craig Allan had an edge of the box free kick well saved by the ‘keeper.
Findlay had to make another good save from a header from the dangerous midfielder Brock.
The visitors created a good opening when Cruickshank played a composed pass in behind the defence for Craig Allan to almost latch onto in the 34th minute.
Then Graham ran through on the left flank but as he drew out the defence his attempted cross for Sellar, unmarked in the box, sailed into the ‘keeper’s arms.
The home side went ahead in 38 minutes with a stunning goal when BROCK won a midfield tackle, ran at goal and fired in a stunning 25-yard shot into the top of the net.
Merpro came back and Sellar had a header go over the bar following an Allan corner kick.
Graham was next to make a good run down the right flank firing in a low shot parried by the ‘keeper and cleared to safety.
Merpro had their best opportunity of the half when Graham set up Sellar to run in on goal on his own but his attempted effort was saved in the 44th minute.
Half-time: Vale of Earn 1, Merpro 0.
Merpro started the second half well, with Cruickshank slipping a subtle short pass through for Sellar to run on to but the alert ‘keeper did well to block his effort.
Merpro upped their tempo looking for the equaliser and were gaining more possession, forcing their opponents back.
Vale continued to be dangerous, hitting Merpro on the break, and Brock hit the post with a cross shot in 55 minutes.
Nicol Duff made an excellent pressurising challenge, forcing an attacker to shoot over the bar.
Merpro’s gradual build-up of pressure began to intensify and finally paid dividends with a quarter of an hour to play. Alasdair Duff was brought down on the edge of the box and Scott GRAHAM stepped up to expertly curl a low 18-yard shot round the wall, hitting off the post into the net.
Merpro were on top and Graham set up Greig, whose right-wing low cross into the box was almost deflected home in 78 minutes.
Graham collected a corner kick clearance and came close with a swerving 18-yard shot going just wide.
Merpro took the lead with only five minutes left when Alasdair DUFF made a trademark storming run from defence, bursting past several defenders before firing in a thunderous 16-yard shot high into the net, setting off joyous celebrations.
Merpro hit their opponents another quick blow when Rhys GREIG did well, playing some tight passes in the box before deftly chipping the ball over the ‘keeper from 15 yards.
The home side kept pushing forward, leaving some space open. Merpro came close in injury time when Murdoch helped set up Bruce to run in on goal, but his left foot effort just went over the bar to finish the match.
For most of the game the tie could have gone either way, but a strong finish from the Montrose side earned them the victory.
Team: Findlay, Brown (Greig), N. Duff, Lownie, A. Duff, G. Allan, Cruickshank (Bruce), C. Allan, Graham, Sellar (Murdoch) and Houston.