Albion Rovers 0,
MONTROSE Football Club followed up last week’s draw with First Division leaders Dunfermline Athletic in the Scottish Cup by defeating Division Three second-top Albion Rovers at Cliftonhill Stadium on Saturday.
The win, thanks to strikes from Nicky Smith and Douglas Cameron, was Montrose’s first league victory since defeating Stranraer at Stair Park in early October and it was also the home side’s first home league defeat of the season.
After a 10-week spell without a home match, and four without a game, Albion Rovers found it difficult to cope with Montrose on the heavy pitch which got heavier during the 90 minutes as rain lashed around the ground.
The Gable Endies must now look to keep this league form going with a busy schedule of fixtures coming up in the next few months.
After the draw with Dunfermline Athletic, manager Steven Tweed made one change to his side. Gordon Pope was ruled out through suspension and Sean Crighton returned to the side in his place.
This meant that Montrose lined up in a 3-5-2 formation. Wood was in goal with Tweed, Campbell and Crighton in central defence. McNally and Sinclair were in the wide midfield positions with Cameron central to McCord and Masson in the middle of the park. Tosh was once again partnered in attack by Smith.
Hugh Davidson was ruled out with ‘flu so his place on the bench was taken by Fraser Milligan, with Hegarty taking the place of Crighton. Youngsters Conor Thomson and Martin Boyle were the other two substitutes, along with under-19 goalkeeper Tim Capstick.
The Rovers side again featured John Gemmell who had left Links Park in the summer after a troubled 12-month spell there.
Albion Rovers got the match under way, shooting into the elements at Cliftonhill.
Montrose won an early corner kick when Tweed headed on a throw-in and the ball was put behind by the home side. When the corner came in Rovers cleared the danger.
In the fifth minute a mistake by Tweed let John Gemmell race up the right flank and cut into the box. Fortunately for Montrose, Campbell came across to cut out the cross and put the ball out for a corner kick. Stevenson took the corner and Sinclair cleared for Montrose.
The Gable Endies claimed a penalty kick in the 10th minute when a McNally cross appeared to strike the hand of Benton, but referee Madden waved play on.
Two minutes later captain McNally found himself free on the right once more, and with no team-mates in support he raced on and fired in a shot, which was blocked by goalkeeper Derek Gaston.
Albion Rovers had the next opportunity when Hamilton crossed from the right but his low cross found no takers.
Terry Masson was next to have a go for Montrose when he let fly from 25 yards out but Gaston was equal to the task and held the ball.
In the 20th minute a defensive mix-up caused by a short passback from Masson gave Sandy Wood problems. Referee Madden decided that the Montrose goalkeeper had somehow managed to flick the ball up and catch it all in one movement as Gemmell challenged. Gemmell took the indirect free kick but he could only find the side netting.
In the next minute Sinclair won a corner kick after Reid blocked his cross. As the rain started to drive down the pitch McCord’s corner was cleared once again by Albion Rovers.
On the half-hour mark Albion Rovers went close when ex-Hamilton Accies midfielder Tony Stevenson hooked the ball just over the crossbar from inside the box.
Montrose opened the scoring in the 34th minute and it was route one football. Steven Tweed launched a free kick forward from just outside his own penalty area. Nicky SMITH raced clear of two Albion Rovers defenders and as goalkeeper Derek Gaston stayed on his line the striker fired home his first goal in Montrose colours, from 10 yards out.
Two minutes later Montrose almost made it two. Aaron Sinclair beat Reid for pace down the left wing and cut inside the penalty area and curled an effort just wide of the far post with Gaston beaten.
In the 39th minute Sinclair won another corner kick, which McCord curled into the box but the home defence once again scrambled the ball clear inside the six-yard area.
Terry Masson picked up the first booking of the afternoon when he clattered into Stevenson as he tried to win the ball back for Montrose on the edge of the Rovers box.
On the stroke of half-time Gemmell won a corner kick for Albion Rovers, which Canning took but Sandy Wood saved the shot from Love.
Half-time: Albion Rovers 0, Montrose 1.
Montrose restarted the second half as conditions got even worse at Cliftonhill with driving rain, which at times reached almost monsoon conditions.
In the 48th minute Nick Smith hit the by-line on the left and got over a cross which the stretching Tosh couldn’t quite reach at the far post.
Albion Rovers then forced a number of corner kicks, which the Montrose defence, managed to clear. Gemmell saw a header deflected over from the first and from the second the home side thought they had scored but Alan Campbell cleared off the line. Tweed then completed the good work when he headed clear from the third.
In the 53rd minute Montrose scored again. In a lighting break Sinclair found Cameron wide on the left. He passed the ball inside to McCord whose shot was blocked by Benton. Dougie CAMERON took the in swinging corner from the right and the ball missed everybody and ended up in the back of the net for his first goal for the club.
Two minutes later Montrose won another corner kick at the same side of the park, this time Cameron played the ball short to Ross McCord and the on-loan midfielder chipped over from the edge of the box.
In the 56th minute Albion Rovers made their first change of the afternoon when Peter Innes was taken off and replaced by Steven Lawless.
Albion Rovers had a chance 11 minutes later when Steven Canning crossed from the left but Robert Love could only head straight into the arms of Sandy Wood.
Montrose then had a let-off when Tweed missed his header and Love found himself in on goal but, from a tight angle, Sean Crighton got back to clear the danger off the goal line. Canning’s corner was again dangerous but Tweed got up to head clear.
With 70 minutes gone Albion Rovers made another switch, taking off Robert Love and bringing on Paul McLeod in his place.
Two minutes later the Gable Endies made their first change with goalscorer Nicky Smith being replaced by Martin Boyle.
Boyle was into action quickly and he sent a low cross across the face of the goal, which was just missed by Paul Tosh.
In the 80th minute Tony Stevenson was booked by referee Bobby Madden for dissent.
Seconds later Boyle put Tosh through again but Gaston this time managed to come off his goal line and get to the ball just before the Montrose striker.
On the stroke of full time a great run from Gemmell saw him set up Hamilton six yards out, but he somehow managed to slice the ball wide of goal and Rovers’ last chance of the match had gone.
In the final minute of stoppage time Montrose made another change, with Chris Hegarty coming on to replace Ross McCord before he starts a three-match league suspension.
Montrose: Wood 7, McNally 7, Crighton 7, Campbell 7, Tweed 7, Cameron 8, McCord 7 (Hegarty), Masson 7, Tosh 7, Smith 7 (Boyle), Sinclair 8. Substitutes – Thomson, Milligan and Capstick.