Montrose Football Club continue to search for their first win of 2014 after they lost out to top of the table Peterhead at rain lashed Links Park on Saturday.
The Gable Endies played well in the first half and restricted the visitors to few chances as they controlled the 45 minutes after taking a deserved lead through captain Garry Wood. Unfortunately, Montrose fell out of things in the second half and in the end top scorer Rory McAllister took over, running the show for the visitors and scored a couple of goals which helped Peterhead to retain their top spot.
There was a bit of luck about the strikers’ 83rd minute goal that crashed off the underside of the bar. It looked debatable if it had crossed the line but assistant Duncan Smith felt it had and Peterhead had a killer third goal.
After the defeat at Albion Rovers, Montrose made three changes to their line up. Out went full backs Jonathan Crawford and Craig Bell, as well as Ross McCord and into the side came Stephen McNally available to take his place in the side despite his new work situation. Ricky McIntosh and Paul Watson were back after suspension.
This saw Montrose line up with ever present Stuart McKenzie in goal with McNally and McIntosh in full back positions. Campbell and Luke Johnston were in central defence. The Montrose midfield consisted of Scott Johnston and David Gray on the flanks with Webster and Watson in the middle. Wood and Deasley were in attack.
Terry Mason returned after suspension and was awarded a place on the bench were he was joined by Reid, Wilson, Bonar, Sturrock, McCord and goalkeeper Sandy Wood.
In the third minute, Montrose won a free kick when Ricky McIntosh was fouled by Gilfillan. Gray took the free kick and when the ball rebounded back to him he fired an effort wide of goal.
With 11 minutes gone, Bryan Deasley found himself onside from a McKenzie kick out but Sharp got back to put in a brilliant block to clear the netbound effort.
Montrose kept up the pressure and in the following minute, Gray won a free kick when Gilfillan pushed him off the ball. Gray’s free kick found Garry Wood but the captain could only head straight at Smith.
Peterhead then won a free kick just outside the area when Paul Watson tripped Gilfillan. Thankfully for Montrose, McAllister sent his kick around the wall and the near post.
Montrose opened the scoring in the 22nd minute with their first goal of 2014 and what a strike it was. Garry WOOD pounced on an error in defence by Peterhead and with everyone expecting a cross to the back post the striker fired home an angled drive into the bottom corner via the post for his fourth goal of the season.
Four minutes later, Montrose wasted a free kick on the centre circle after Deasley was fouled by Cowie. Luke Johnston played the ball forward but was too quick with his kick and Peterhead were able to clear.
Montrose almost added a second goal in the 27th minute. Deasley found Graham Webster with a pass along the penalty area and the midfielder’s effort was brilliantly tipped over by Smith to save a certain goal.
Gray’s corner was too strong, but when the ball fell to Webster at the far post, he whipped over a cross, but McNally’s cross was blocked by a Peterhead defender.
Garry Wood was fouled by Strachan giving Montrose a free kick some 20 yards out. David Gray took the free kick but his effort went wide of the far post.
Play was held up for treatment on former Montrose striker Andy Rodgers after he went down in the centre circle but he was able to continue after treatment.
Gray then fouled Sharp in a dangerous position, but when Noble whipped in the free kick, McNally was able to complete the clearance inside his own area. The ball then bounced back to Gilfillan but he could only fire a poor effort straight at McKenzie.
On the stroke of a good first half from Montrose, Graham Webster was warned for a late tackle on Rodgers.
Half time: Montrose 1, Peterhead 0.
Montrose went so close to doubling their tally two minutes into the second half. Sharp pushed Gray on the far touchline and when the midfielder’s free kick came in, the former Gable Endie went so close to heading into his own net only for Graeme Smith to pull off a wonderful save at the back post.
From Montrose’s corner kick, Peterhead broke quickly up the park through Rodgers and his cut back was fired past the post by McAllister with Deasley putting in a great challenge to put him off.
Disaster struck Montrose in the 50th minute when Peterhead equalised. Montrose failed to stop the ball going out for a corner kick and when Steven Noble’s wind assisted kick came in it hit off the head of A CAMPBELL and flew into the net with McKenzie unable to do anything about it.
Graham Webster then became the first booking of the afternoon for a high tackle on Jamie Redman when it appeared both players were going in for a 50-50 ball.
Peterhead took the lead through another Montrose error. A through ball caught out the home defence and Rory McALLISTER was allowed to run on round McKenzie and knock it home into the unguarded net.
Three minutes later, tempers became frayed after a midfield tackle on a Montrose player. Gilfillan and Deasley clashed and after other players joined in and the dust had settled, referee Nick Walsh chose to book Deasley and Peterhead’s McAllister, who didn’t appear to have taken part in the incident.
Montrose created a good opportunity when they were awarded a free kick centrally after Deasley was tripped by Gilfillan. With Watson hovering over the ball, it was Ricky McIntosh who stepped up to curl an effort around the post and wide of the target.
Peterhead kept up the pressure and a great pass from McAllister saw him find strike partner Andy Rodgers but he could only shoot straight at McKenzie. The home side made a double switch in the 65th minute when they brought on Jamie Reid and Terry Masson in place of David Gray and Scott Johnston.
Three minutes later, despite looking in an offside position, Rory McAllister was allowed to continue his run only to send a 25-yard volley wide of goal.
Peterhead made a change of their own in the 74th minute with ex-Montrose player Andy Rodgers being replaced by another Fraser McLaren.
McAllister was fouled some 35 yards out but Rory McAllister saw his free kick tipped around the post by Stuart McKenzie, who was having a fine match in the home goal.
Montrose boss Stuart Garden made his final change in the 82nd minute bringing on Lewis Bonar in place of Graham Webster, as he pushed three into attack.
A minute later there was controversy, as Peterhead grabbed a third goal. McALLISTER broke on the left and smacked in a shot from 25 yards out which bounced off the underside of the bar and back into play. No visiting players claimed for a goal but assistant referee Duncan Smith, who didn’t appear to be up with play, signalled to referee Walsh that the ball had crossed the line. It seemed a harsh decision but despite the home protests, the goal stood. Stephen McNally took his protests too far and was yellow carded by the referee for dissent.
Peterhead made a second change two minutes later, when the impressive McAllister was replaced by Ryan McCann.
With three minutes remaining, Montrose had a chance when Garry Wood turned inside the area and shot straight at keeper Graeme Smith.
Montrose did pull back a second goal in the 90th minute when Terry MASSON received a Reid pass on the edge of the area after a good move and his quick turn flat footed the Peterhead defence and he drilled an excellent shot, which fizzed past Smith on its way into the net.
Try as they might, Montrose just couldn’t carve out another opportunity and the three points were heading back North to the Blue Toon.
The final piece of action came three minutes into stoppage time when Jordan Brown came on for Bryan Gilfillan.
Montrose now travel to Elgin City on Saturday looking for their first win since December 7.
Montrose: McKenzie, McNally, McIntosh, Campbell, L. Johnston, Webster (Bonar), S. Johnston (Masson), Watson, G. Wood, Deasley, Gray (Reid). Subs (not used), Wilson, Sturrock, McCord, S. Wood.