Merpro returned to new year action after last week’s match was cancelled due to a frozen pitch.
No such likelihood this week, however, as the milder recent downpours gave rise to new concerns over flooded pitches. The Wellbank park was in decent condition prior to the match but as the incessant rain continued it resembled some of the local ploughed fields at the end of the game.
Merpro started the match well creating some early pressure with headed chances for both Petrie and Duff following good crosses from Robertson.
Merpro almost opened the scoring when Allan on the edge of the box slipped a short pass into the penalty area for Robertson to collect but his low clipped shot at goal was well saved in 14 minutes.
A minute later, Duff collected the ball in midfield to run in on goal shrugging off a couple of tackles but his low shot went wide.
Merpro were on top at this stage and Greig picked up a Bruce pass on the edge of the box but hit his shot wide in 20 minutes.
A few minutes later, Duff had a 22 yard drive well held by the home custodian.
Wellbank had been energetic but had rarely threatened in attack but this changed in the 25th minute. From a home side corner kick, goalkeeper Eadie rose to collect but failed to hold the cross. He managed to quickly dive to parry the follow up low shot, but it fell into the path of an attacker, who scored from close range.
Eadie’s adamant complaints about being pushed as he went to collect the cross were lost in the subtitles and denied by the official.
Wellbank were encouraged and had a spell of more concerted pressure but as the half progressed it was the visitors who were becoming frustrated at their inability to make the breakthrough. Merpro were further shocked when the home side scored again. Pert was injured in challenging to head clear a cross into the box with the ball going wide and collected by a winger, who skilfully curled a shot into the top corner of the net.
Merpro, despite dominating the half, found themselves in a sticky situation two down at the break.
Half-time: Merpro 0, Wellbank 2.
Merpro regrouped at the interval and immediately came storming back into the match.
A Craig Allan edge of the box free kick was excellently tipped round the post in the 46th minute by the home ‘keeper.
A minute later, Duff made a breaking run into the box finishing with a deflected looping goalbound shot, again excellently tipped over the bar by the ‘keeper.
Merpro made the breakthrough with a superbly finished effort after some fine edge of the box interplay. Craig ALLAN collected a deft lobbed Bruce pass inside the box to steer a low shot into the corner of the net from 12 yards in 48 minutes.
Merpro equalised two minutes later when a Murdoch cross into the goalmouth failed to be cleared, falling for Liam PETRIE to quickly pounce in the box to fire home a Chicharito poacher’s type goal from five yards.
Merpro were keeping the home side penned back and looked like they had gone ahead after a bizarre moment. An energised Petrie outran a defender to prod a low 20-yard shot past the out rushing ‘keeper, but his effort held up on the sodden pitch right on the goal line to be cleared dampening the premature celebrations.
However, the youngster was not to be denied when he put Merpro ahead with a stunning strike. PETRIE collected a Bruce through pass and left his marker stranded inside the box before lashing a superb rising shot into the net from 15 yard. A great 15 minute opening spell had seen Merpro reverse the two goal deficit.
Merpro continued to dominate and went further ahead when Euan DUFF cut in off the flank to fire in a well hit low shot from 22 yards.
Petrie almost scored again with a skilful piece of nimble play in the penalty box but the ‘keeper made an excellent block to deny him his hat trick. Merpro went further ahead when DUFF scored his second goal bundling in a low shot into the corner of the net from 15 yards.
The Wellbank ‘keeper made a series of good saves in the closing stages to prevent any further scoring, as Merpro moved into the third round.
Some character was shown by the Montrose side to stage a storming comeback in tough muddy conditions.
Merpro: Eadie, Murdoch(Lownie), Whyte, C.Allan, Pert (N.Duff), G.Allan, E.Duff, Bruce (Wink), Petrie (Collie), Greig, J.Robertson (Graham).