The first game in charge for George Shields as caretaker manager was against bottom of the table strugglers Queen’s Park away from home.
However, the home side had been on a decent run of form of late, unlike Montrose whose confidence has been hit hard in the last couple of games.
Would changes be made to the Gable Endies’ side, the fans wondered – bearing in mind that there seemed to be little point in George Shields playing the same line-up in the same way?
The answer was yes, there were changes.
One was enforced by the unavailability of Terry Masson, who was replaced in midfield by Ross McCord. Into the side also came Lewis Bonar wide left, as Colin Wilson dropped to the bench.
The Montrose line-up then was McKenzie in goal with a flat back four of Crawford, Wood, Campbell and McIntosh. In midfield were McCord, Watson, and Gray with Johnston, Deasley and Bonar up front.
Only five substitutes were named; Sturrock, Wilson, Duguid, Webster and substitute goalkeeper McCafferty.
Conditions were cool but very windy, a swirling wind which made it very difficult for both sides and at times hard to see who had it at their backs.
Montrose made the early running with almost total possession in the first 10 minutes but without creating anything clear cut. McCord lobbed one over the bar after a corner on the left then Bonar worked his way to the goal line out left, but slipped in his attempt to cross it.
Another visitors’ corner came to nothing, and you sensed that something had to come of this pressure whilst the home side were in some disarray.
Nothing did, and the Spiders started to claw their way into the game and a good snap shot was held safely by McKenzie, who sent Deasley away down the left but he was offside.
Montrose continued to send long probing balls in the difficult windy conditions, but the home defence were not troubled.
With 20 minutes gone, Queen’s Park were somewhat disjointed but had the best chance of the game when they won a free kick in the ‘D’ just outside the Montrose box.
McKenzie held the resultant free kick, but it was a signal for a more sustained period of Queen’s Park pressure and you wondered if Montrose would rue not taking advantage of their earlier domination. A great through ball saw Sutherland closing in on McKenzie, but the forward sliced his effort well wide.
Montrose countered as Deasley got on the end of a through ball from Gray but the shot was straight at Lochhead in the Spiders’ goal. The rest of the first half was about even possession with nothing to seriously trouble either keeper, although Coll the Spiders’ left back was booked for what looked a trivial offence.
Half-time: Queen’s Park 0, Montrose 0.
Right at the start of the second half, the home side received their second booking as Brough pulled back Scotty Johnston as he was about to break clear. From the free kick, the ball bobbled around the Queen’s Park penalty area with no Montrose player able to get anything on it before it was finally hoofed away to safety.
Again the visitors pushed forward and a poor back pass saw the Queen’s Park keeper fortunate to slice the ball away for a corner. Then a moment which changed the game. The home side attacked down the left only for McKenzie to race out and clear for a throw in.
It was quickly taken and the ball found its way to the right hand side where EAMMON BROPHY squeezed past two defenders before hitting a hard shot through McKenzie’s legs for the opening goal.
Montrose had to push forward and Crawford’s header from a corner was held by Lochhead. Deasley then failed to put over a decent cross having done the hard work in getting to the goal line.
Montrose equalised in the 58th minute. A good move down the right involving Gray, Crawford saw the ball find its way to Johnston, whose high ball in to the six yard box was cleared only as far as PAUL WATSON, who controlled it and hit a great shot into the net from 25 yards.
The first Montrose substitution then took place with Webster coming on for Bonar who had struggled to make any impact. Just after the equaliser, there was almost a second goal for Montrose as a Queen’s Park defender under pressure from Deasley was pleased to see his attempted clearance whistle narrowly past his own post. Then Crawford was booked for a mistimed tackle on 65 minutes. The home side made their first substitution with Burns off and Davison on in his place.
Ricky McIntosh was then rightly booked as he did well to stop a promising looking home attack, and for the next few minutes, it was all Queen’s Park pressure as they went for the win.
Caretaker boss Shields responded by taking Gray out of midfield and putting young Sturrock on as an extra and fresh pair of legs up front as Montrose went for the win as well in the last 10 minutes or so. Webster shot high and wide and Queen’s Park pushed forward again, but another interception by Wood sent Johnston away only to be stopped in his tracks in a tackle that earned the right back Mitchell a yellow card. Still the home pressed forward but were simply wasting possession time and again. They made their final substitution on 86 minutes as Spittal came off for Collins.
On 87 minutes, McKenzie made a point saving clearance at the feet of the onrushing Gormley who was through one on one with the ‘keeper. Another yellow card followed for QP as Michael Keenan was penalised for an awful tackle from behind on Deasley. The free kick was taken by Wood, but headed tamely over by Watson.
McKenzie gets the man-of-the-match award again for several match saving stops but there were good performances from Garry Wood and Alan Campbell as well. Ross McCord looked a bit rusty after being out of the team for a while and will get better. Paul Watson is worth his place as at times like today for instance when he looked the only player likely to conjure up a goal from somewhere.
Montrose: McKenzie, Crawford, McIntosh, Campbell, Wood, McCord, Gray (Sturrock), Watson, Johnston, Deasley, Bonar (Webster) Subs not used – Wilson, Duguid and McCafferty.