Annan Athletic 3
ANNAN Athletic twice came from behind to inflict an undeserved home defeat on Montrose at the end of Saturday’s Irn-Bru Scottish Division Three encounter at Links Park.
Martin Boyle had struck twice in the first half, with Scott Gibson replying for the visitors before the break.
Montrose looked to have secured an impressive home win over the league leaders until Gibson’s equaliser six minutes from time was followed by a dramatic late winner from Jordyn McKechnie.
The Gable Endies were attempting to build on a good away win at Berwick the preceding week, and started the match in impressive fashion.
They tested visiting goalkeeper Craig Summersgill as early as the first minute of play, the Annan man booting the ball clear from Boyle’s foot at the front post after Sean Pierce’s cross.
Montrose’s passing was slick and fast on the wet Links Park surface, drenched by a torrential downpour that didn’t let up for the duration of the match.
That slick passing paid off in the 13th minute when Crawford headed the ball forward, with BOYLE using his pace to power past the Annan defenders and sidefoot the ball past the helpless Summersgill.
The goal seemed to ignite Annan, who immediately had their hosts under pressure, Chris Jardine having a 25-yard shot tipped over by Montrose goalkeeper Michael Andrews. David Cox swung the resultant corner into the box, where Sean O’Connor met the ball with a header that was tipped over.
It was from the second corner that Annan equalised, Jardine’s cross met at the back post by the unmarked GIBSON, whose unstoppable header flew past Andrews.
The teams’ differing styles of play were clear to see during the first half, with Annan looking to capitalise on their long-range shooting power while Montrose attempted to play fast attacking football on the ground.
Jonathan Crawford came close to restoring Montrose’s lead in the 17th minute when he was fed in by trialist Steven Masterton, but he could only shoot wide.
Masterton looked a potentially good signing for the Gable Endies, forming a good partnership in central midfield with Jamie Winter. Masterton’s quick thinking at a free kick almost led to a Montrose goal, Alan Campbell reaching a curling cross only for his header to land safely in Summersgill’s arms.
Winter also came close, hammering a 25-yard half-volley just wide of the post.
Annan should have taken the lead after 25 minutes when O’Connor lashed a shot off Andrews’ crossbar. With the goalkeeper beaten, the ball fell to Cox at the back post, but before he could react it rebounded off of his shins and out for a goal kick.
Chris Jardine, so often a source of goals for the men from the Borders, came close to putting Annan ahead just a minute later, shooting over the crossbar from 25 yards out.
Martin Boyle’s never-say-die attitude came close to putting Montrose back in front on the half-hour mark. His chasing put Summersgill under pressure, and the goalkeeper fumbled what appeared to be an easy catch. With the goal gaping, Boyle attempted to score from an acute angle but Gibson had recovered to knock the ball out for a corner.
It proved to be a warning that went unheeded, and Montrose took full advantage a minute before the break.
Pierce’s through-ball was perfectly weighted for BOYLE, whose pace again carried him clear of the defenders. His shot wasn’t the cleanest hit of his career, but Summersgill could only deflect the ball into the net.
First half stoppage time could have seen Annan equalise, but McKechnie could only curl a free kick over the crossbar.
Half-time: Montrose 2, Annan 1.
The second half started with Annan exerting greater pressure on the home side, who were penned back into their own half for extended periods.
Steven Sloan came close to equalising within a minute of the restart, heading wide.
It wasn’t all Annan though, with Montrose capable of fast counter-attacking. Stephen McNally came close five minutes after the break, Summersgill forced to make a save from his low shot.
While they enjoyed the majority of the possession in the second half, Annan struggled to create clear-cut chances, often resorting to long-range efforts. The best of these fell to David Cox, but he could only shoot wide.
Martin Boyle could have secured his hat-trick, and very likely a Montrose win, on the hour-mark.
Crawford again played him into the box, but his shot was deflected into Summersgill’s waiting arms.
Michael Andrews had one of his strongest games in the Montrose goal and was generally up to the task whenever Annan threatened. He did especially well in the 70th minute when he tipped Aaron Muirhead’s long range shot over the crossbar.
With full time looming Montrose were left reeling when Annan found a dramatic equaliser. GIBSON, again left unmarked in the box, had time to control a loose ball and slam an unstoppable shot low past Andrews and into the bottom corner.
Masterton could have boosted his chances of securing a permanent contract two minutes later, but sent a 20-yard shot high and wide.
Boyle was also presented with a late opportunity when he ran on to a long Winter pass, but Summersgill reacted quickly enough to make the tackle.
With Montrose apparently destined to pick up a hard-fought point, they had the wind kicked out of their sails in the dying seconds when McKECHNIE met Jardine’s deep cross with a header that left Andrews helpless.
Montrose: Andrews, McNally, Cameron, Lunan, Crighton, Campbell, Crawford, Trialist (McPhee 87), Boyle, Winter and Pierce. Unused substitutes: McGowan, Johnston, Kelly, Wood.
Booked: Winter, 85.
Annan Athletic: Summersgill, Muirhead, McGowan, Gibson, Watson, McKechnie, Sloan (Steele 60), Jardine, Bell (Gilfillan 60), O’Connor (MacBeth 84) and Cox. Unused substitutes: Neilson, Mitchell.