East Stirlingshire 1 Montrose 2
Two TREMENDOUS goals, both scored by left-back Paul Watson, the second coming in the second minute of stoppage time, gave Montrose three valuable points against East Stirlingshire on Saturday in a match played in terrible conditions.
After conceding 10 goals in their previous two matches it was important that the Gable Endies got back to winning ways as they looked to secure a place in the play-offs. The result put Montrose back into third after Berwick Rangers had been defeated at home by Peterhead.
Both sides served up a cracking match despite the weather. In the end Montrose did more than enough in the second half to grab three points against the bottom of the table home side.
Manager Stuart Garden made five changes: out went the suspended John Gibson and Jamie Winter, the injured Ricky McIntosh and Lloyd Young, and Ross McCord also dropped out. In came goalkeeper Sandy Wood, Jonathan Crawford after suspension while there were also returns to the line-up for David Gray, Craig McLeish and Scott Johnston.
Montrose lined up with Wood in goal with McNally and Watson in the full back positions. Crawford and Lunan were in central defence. Masson and Johnston were in the wide midfield positions with Gray and McLeish in the middle. Boyle was again in attack alongside Wood.
On the bench for Montrose was McIntosh, Young, McCord, Morton and goalkeeping substitute Dean Easton.
East Stirlingshire got the match under way in freezing and windy conditions at Ochilview Park with the elements in their favour.
Montrose created the first opening in the sixth minute when Crawford went on a mazy run out of defence and found Boyle in a great position. The striker took on Ricky Miller but the defender got in a great tackle to put the ball out.
Three minutes later McNally played the ball wide to McLeish who was fouled 30 yards out. With no Jamie Winter in the side Paul Watson stepped up to take the free kick and his shot curled inches past.
Masson gave away a free kick after he fouled Wright. Shire took the kick quickly and Wright’s cross was put out for an East Stirlingshire corner taken by Stirling but Montrose cleared.
The home side won another free kick 35 yards out when Crawford fouled Quinn. Michael Hunter took the free kick but with the wind in his favour he sent the ball over the terracing behind the goal.
Montrose were dealt a blow in the 26th minute when Jonathan Crawford suffered a knee injury in a tackle with a Shire player and had to be helped off.
His place was taken by Leighton McIntosh, with Garry Wood moving back into central defence.
Despite this, Montrose opened the scoring in the 31st minute. An excellent through ball put McIntosh clear inside the area. He cut back for Masson who was brought down some 25 yards out for a Gable Endies’ free kick. PAUL WATSON curled the ball around the wall and into the net via the post for an excellent fifth goal of the season.
East Stirlingshire kept conceding free kicks, this time at the corner flag after Boyle was fouled. Gray swung over the kick which caused problems in the six-yard box before finally being cleared.
With two minutes of the half remaining East Stirlingshire equalised with a goal out of nothing. Masson and Gray both had chances to clear the danger on the touchline and when the ball broke back MAX WRIGHT scored with a wind assisted effort that sailed over Wood and into the top corner.
In first half stoppage time Garry Wood became the first booking of the afternoon for a tackle on Andy Stirling.
Half-time: East Stirlingshire 1, Montrose 1.
East Stirlingshire had the first chance of the second half when Montrose allowed dangerman Andy Stirling to get free on the right. His cross to the near post was bulleted just wide by Paul Quinn.
Captain Paul Lunan was booked for a foul on Quinn 60 seconds later.
In the 52nd minute Montrose almost regained the lead. McLeish laid the ball off to full back Watson. His low effort was heading for the net until it took a deflection off a Shire defender, out for a fruitless corner.
Seconds later, Montrose had another opportunity. Martin Boyle got free inside the box and his shot was on target until defender Miller dived in to divert it for a corner kick.
In the 50th minute Leighton McIntosh won a corner kick, taken by McLeish. The ball bounced around the penalty box and firstly McIntosh then Lunan saw their efforts cleared by ‘keeper Hay.
Montrose went close to regaining the lead in the 62nd minute when Garry Wood controlled a clearance on the edge of the Shire area turned and sent in an effort that crashed off the crossbar with Hay beaten.
The Gable Endies made their second change of the afternoon in the 67th minute when Lloyd Young came on to replace Craig McLeish.
With 70 minutes gone Montrose wasted another great opportunity. A slide rule pass from Watson put McIntosh through on goal from the half-way line but with only the ‘keeper to beat he fired straight at Hay who saved.
East Stirlingshire then took off Philipp Zufle for Michael Herd.
Montrose just couldn’t score and next to miss the target was the normally deadly Boyle who, after collecting a through ball from McIntosh, saw his shot tipped wide by Hay.
Stuart Garden made his final change of the afternoon when Ross McCord came on in place of David Gray.
With 10 minutes remaining Montrose carved out another opportunity when the ball was played to Terry Masson at the edge of the area but his effort although on target was an easy save for Hay.
Seconds later Montrose created another chance when McCord played in Masson but with only the ‘keeper to beat his lob from six yards was straight into the arms of Hay.
Martin Boyle tried to make use of the elements with six minutes remaining. He gathered a Masson pass out on the right wing and cut inside his marker and curled in an effort which beat Hay but flew wide of the far post.
With time running out Montrose won a corner kick out on the right but Watson curled in an effort which was too strong and went out at the other side of the park. With it, it appeared, went the Gable Endies’ last chance.
But Montrose created one last chance and with it came the winning goal. McIntosh won a corner kick two minutes into stoppage time. Before it could be taken Shire substitute Herd was replaced by Jamie Glasgow. McCord swung over the kick and the ball was cleared only as far as PAUL WATSON who, 30 yards out, gathered the ball and on the volley smashed an unstoppable wind-assisted shot which flew into the top corner with Hay rooted to the stop.
The Montrose players were delighted with the last gasp winner and went to celebrate with their fans in the stand. Once things had settled down referee Euan Anderson called over captain Paul Lunan and showed him a second yellow, presumably for the celebrations. He became the fourth Montrose player to be red-carded in four matches, which took the gloss off an excellent three points gathered in difficult conditions for both sides.
Montrose: S. Wood, McNally, Watson, Crawford (L. McIntosh), Lunan, Gray (McCord), Masson, McLeish (Young), Boyle, G. Wood, Johnston. Substitutes not used – Morton and Easton.