Montrose Football Club suffered their second heavy defeat in a row, as East Fife overcame a poor opening 45 minutes to record a deserved 3 - 0 victory over George Shields’ side at Links Park on Saturday.
The result saw Montrose slump into second bottom spot, only a point behind East Stirlingshire who defeated Elgin City at home, and who have three matches in hand.
The Gables Endies must now start to get points on the board, as they look to get out of a mess that has seen only one win recorded this year and only two since late September, 2014.
After the heavy defeat at Hampden Park, three changes were made to the Montrose line-up, with Crawford returning from injury, Ross Campbell making his full debut and McCord returning. Out of the side went the injured Cameron, Harwood and O’Neil.
There was a full bench for Montrose, with new signing Craig Johnston joined by O’Neil, Harkins, Harwood, Deasley, Watson and McCafferty.
East Fife’s on-loan striker Ola Adeyemo had the first real opening of the match in four minutes, when he latched onto a clearance only for Ewan Moyes to get back with a saving tackle inside the box.
Johnston then won the ball down the right and played in Campbell, whose cross found Wood who headed back across goal, only for Fleming to grab on the goal-line.
Seconds later, Johnston made another opening for Wood, when he nutmegged his marker, but from the edge of the area fired wide of goal.
In ten minutes, Stevie Campbell tested McKenzie with a long-range effort, which the Montrose ‘keeper managed to push away.
A good piece of skill on the far side, saw Wood win a foul when he was tripped by Julien. McCord curled over a dangerous free-kick which Moyes headed back across goal, where there were no takers.
Montrose should have opened the scoring in 16 minutes, and again it was captain Garry Wood who was at the centre of it. He gathered the ball at the edge of the box and fired in a low effort which beat goalkeeper Allan Fleming and rebounded off the base of the post, straight at the goalkeeper.
With 25 minutes gone, Allan linked up with Wood and the Montrose striker played the ball back to McCord but he could only fire over the crossbar.
Three minutes later, Montrose had another great opening, when a reverse pass from Scott Johnston put him in on goal but his shot was brilliantly saved by visiting ‘keeper Fleming.
Despite having all the play, Montrose were caught with a sucker-punch in 32 minutes, when East Fife opened the scoring. Montrose switched off from a throw-in and a triangle of passes saw the ball find Fraser Mullen, whose cross found SEAN DICKSON inside the box, and he headed past McKenzie.
Montrose won a free-kick in 38 minutes, when McCord was fouled by Campbell. Jordan Allan took the kick but curled his effort well over the bar.
On the stroke of half-time Montrose had another golden opportunity which they wasted. Crawford put over a perfect cross, which both Banjo and Campbell went for at the same time, they got in each other’s way and the chance went a-begging.
Half-time: Montrose 0, East Fife 1.
East Fife made a double change at the start of the second half, with Alan Cook and Nathan Austin coming on to replace Kevin Smith and Ola Adeyemo.
Montrose really should have equalised in 47 minutes. McCord sprayed a pass out wide, to Jordan Allan on the left, and his cross was volleyed past the front post by Ross Campbell when it looked easier to score.
Substitute Nathan Austin was rightly booked in 51 minutes, when, after outpacing the Montrose defence, he decided to fall to the ground just outside the penalty area.
Play was held up when Sean Dickson was inured in a challenge from Allan but he was able to continue after treatment to his shoulder injury.
Five minutes later, Crawford was injured after a tackle and had to go off with a knee injury. He was replaced by Paul Watson, making his return after breaking his wrist against Arbroath at the start of the year. Watson moved into the middle of the park, with Banjo moving out to right back.
Montrose were hit with a sucker punch in 64 minutes, when East Fife scored a second goal. A Mullen cross was deep and it was headed back across goal by Austin and the in-rushing ROSS BROWN was able to force the ball home from close range.
Montrose almost immediately got a goal back. A long ball from Ross Graham found Campbell in space, only for the Montrose striker to see his volley blocked for a Montrose corner-kick. McCord’s kick found Andrews, and his header won another corner, this time from the other side. Andrews again got on the end of the corner, only for Moyes to get the ball under control with his hand.
East Fife substitute Alan Cook almost made it three in 72 minutes when he latched onto a ball down the left, but his effort just missed at the far post.
With 15 minutes remaining, Montrose made a double substitution bringing on Craig Johnston, for his debut, and Stephen O’Neil. They replaced Scott Johnston and Ross McCord.
David Banjo became the second Montrose player to be booked for a late tackle on Cook.
With four minutes remaining, Stuart McKenzie kept Montrose in the match when he tipped a shot from Austin wide of goal. But it was only going to be for a few seconds, as from the resultant corner-kick, Montrose again switched off. The kick was played to FRASER MULLEN on the edge of the box and he fired a low effort into the bottom corner.
The final action of the afternoon saw the visitors replace player-manager Gary Naysmith with Scott Smith.
MONTROSE: McKenzie, Crawford (Watson), Graham, Moyes, Andrews, McCord (O’Neil), S. Johnston (C. Johnston), Banjo, Wood, R. Campbell, Allan Subs not used – Harkins, Harwood, Deasley, McCafferty