Berwick Rangers 4 Montrose 0
ON SATURDAY Montrose Football Club crashed to one of their worst defeats of the season - just a week after beating second top Queen’s Park at Hampden Park.
The result saw the Gable Endies remain in third top spot, but are now only four points ahead of fourth placed Berwick Rangers and six clear of fifth top Elgin in the battle to secure a play-off place at the end of the season.
Montrose were never at the races and the home side fully deserved their win on a gluepot of a pitch - but a 4 – 0 scoreline probably flattered them in the end.
The Montrose cause wasn’t helped by the referee who managed to book five and send off one visitors’ player.
Manager Stuart Garden was forced into three changes to the side that defeated Queen’s Park. Injury ruled out Alan Campbell, David Gray was suspended while Irn Bru Young Player of the Month for February Martin Boyle was a late call off due to illness.
In came Jonathan Crawford after suspension, Ricky McIntosh after injury and there was a recall for Leighton McIntosh.
Montrose got this early kick-off under way in difficult underfoot conditions at a bitterly cold Shielfield Park and created the first chance.
McNally’s long throw-in found Lloyd Young unmarked inside the area but his hooked shot went into the arms of McCallum.
The Gable Endies had a penalty claim turned down when the ball appeared to strike McLaren’s arm but referee Stevens waved play on.
In the eighth minute Darren Lavery had a chance for the home side but their top scorer could only blaze the ball over the crossbar.
Two minutes later Montrose won a free kick in a good position when Ricky McIntosh was fouled some 30 yards out. Jamie Winter took the kick and his low effort took a deflection off Wood which sent the ball in a different direction but in to the arms of McCallum.
After all the early pressure the home side opened the scoring in the 12th minute. With Lunan and Crawford claiming offside FRASER McLAREN was allowed to get clear on the right and lift the ball over Gibson and into the net.
Sixty seconds later Montrose almost equalised when McNally played a great pass to Paul Watson and his first time shot went just wide of the near post from 20 yards out.
Ex-Brechin City striker Scott Dalziel almost added a second goal for the home side in the 20th minute but Paul Lunan saved the day for Montrose with a great blocking tackle inside the penalty area.
Garry Wood was warned for a foul on Dylan Easton.
Seconds later Ross McCord became the first booking of the afternoon for a foul on the edge of the Montrose penalty area. Easton swung over the free kick but Darren Lavery headed wide of the far post.
Lunan again saved the visitors on the half-hour mark when Dalziel found himself unmarked in the box after a Berwick Rangers free kick but his shot was blocked by the Montrose number five.
In the 33rd minute Leighton McIntosh almost found his namesake Ricky with a cutback inside the box but a home defender was on hand to clear.
Two minutes later Ross McCord skipped into the home box and appeared to be clipped by a home defender; he stayed on his feet and ran the ball out of play.
Montrose keep up pressure with the difficult windy conditions in their favour and Stephen McNally was next to have a go with a 30-yarder when he was set up by McCord but his shot went high and wide.
Jonathan Crawford became the next Gable Endie to be booked for a challenge on the far side.
Montrose should have equalised with three minutes of the first half remaining. Garry Wood found space on the left and whipped over a perfect cross for Leighton McIntosh whose first touch was too strong and he ran the ball out of play before he could get a shot in.
Half-time: Berwick 1, Montrose 0.
Montrose won a corner kick early in the second half when a Wood cutback was put behind. McCord’s corner found McNally whose shot was blocked. The ball came back to Winter who found McCord but his cross sailed out of play.
Montrose then won a free kick on the left which was taken by Watson but Paul Lunan couldn’t force the ball home at close range.
In the 52nd minute Montrose’s task was made even more difficult when they went two behind. Young lost the ball on the half-way line and Easton played in a cross which hit off Dalziel and then rebounded off McLAREN into the net for his second goal of the afternoon.
In the 57th minute Jamie Winter picked up the third Montrose booking of the afternoon when he tripped Easton. It was another really soft booking by referee Stevens.
On the hour-mark a mistake from Crawford allowed McLaren through on goal but John Gibson pulled off a great stop.
Montrose made a positive substitution in the 65th minute bringing on Scott Morton for Jamie Winter.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men in somewhat strange circumstances three minutes later. Gibson then Crawford had chances to clear the ball up field but failed. Then when Jonathan Crawford failed to find his ‘keeper with a header Scott Dalziel raced into the box to get in a header only to slip with the Montrose defender in pursuit. This was enough for referee Stevens to flash the red card from almost the half way line and award a penalty kick.
McLAREN stepped up to take the kick for his hat-trick. Justice appeared to be done when Gibson saved but he couldn’t hold onto the ball and the Berwick winger was on hand to stab home the rebound.
McLaren was taken off in the 72nd minute and replaced by Phil Addison. Two minutes later Lavery could only curl his effort well wide of the far post.
It was Lavery’s last piece of action as he was substituted three minutes later by Dean Carse.
In the 76th minute Montrose should have pulled back a goal when Leighton McIntosh was fouled on the touchline. Watson sent over a great inswinging corner kick which found Scott Morton at the back post but from point blank range the youngster headed off the crossbar.
Garry Wood became the fourth Montrose player to be booked when the striker, now playing in central defence, put in a crunching tackle on the half-way line to halt Easton.
With 11 minutes remaining 10-man Montrose made a double substitution, taking off Leighton and Ricky McIntosh and replacing them with Scott Johnston and Craig McLeish.
Three minutes later and it was Berwick Rangers’ final change when Dean Hoskins replaced Scott Dalziel. Lloyd Young had half a chance for Montrose with five minutes remaining but after his turn on the edge of the box he fired into the arms of ‘keeper McCallum.
In stoppage time Scott Johnston became the fifth Gable Endie to be booked when he challenged ‘keeper McCallum inside the area after Montrose had given the ball back to the home side. McCallum was lucky to not be booked for raising his arm to the player.
In stoppage time Berwick Rangers scored again, undeservedly. Hoskins got clear inside the box and his cross was turned home by DEAN CARSE from what looked like an offside position, but by that point it didn’t really matter.
Montrose: Gibson, McNally, Watson, J. Crawford, Lunan, Winter (Morton), Young, McCord, L. McIntosh (Johnston), G. Wood and R. McIntosh (McLeish) Sub not used – S. Wood.