ANNAN ATHLETIC 1
Montrose Football Club battled against the elements, and visitors Annan Athletic, to record a badly-needed victory at Links Park on Saturday.
It was no more than George Shields’ new-look side deserved in some really difficult conditions, with high winds and snow blowing around the park.
It was the third occasion this season that the men from the South had failed to record a victory over Montrose.
George Shields had been busy during the week, securing the signatures of five new players. Greg Cameron came on-loan from Brechin City, whilst Ross Campbell and Ewan Moyes had been captured from East Fife. Jordan Allan, a left-sided player, had joined from Greenock Morton. The final recruit was 19-year-old winger or striker, Craig Johnston from Sauchie Juniors.
Cameron, Moyes and Allan all made their debuts with Campbell, son of Forfar boss Dick, and Johnston were both suspended.
They replaced the injured Harwood, McCord and Deasley.
Montrose lined up with McKenzie in goal, Crawford and Graham in their usual full-back positions, with Moyes teaming up with Andrews in central defence. Cameron went into central midfield, alongside Banjo, while O’Neil and Allan where in the wide positions. Wood and Johnston were in attack.
With Masson, Watson, McIntosh and Day all on the injured list, Montrose were only able to name six subs in McCord, Harkins, Campbell, Deasley, Webster and goalkeeper McCafferty.
Montrose got the match underway at a bitterly cold and windy Links Park and it was Annan Athletic who had the wind in their favour for the opening 45 minutes.
In five minutes, Wood latched onto a McKenzie goal-kick but was held back by Watson. Cameron took the free-kick to the back post but Wood’s header across goal found no takers.
In the next minute, Omar ran at the home defence and found Weatherston whose shot went straight into the arms of McKenzie.
David banjo then carved out an effort for the home side, when he ran across the face of the box only to drag his effort wide of goal.
The visitors then used the elements to force a succession of corner-kicks. From the final one taken by McColm, McKenzie missed the ball but Moyes was on hand to head the ball clear.
Annan Athletic kept up the pressure and a McColm free-kick was cleared poorly by the Montrose defence, but Rabin Omar could only blast the ball over the bar.
Montrose were not out of things and Jordan Allan played the ball into the feet of Garry Wood but he could only turn and shoot wide of goal.
On the half hour mark, Banjo set up Garry Wood, but he headed over the crossbar.
Sixty seconds later, Annan Athletic were given another opportunity with a free-kick after Allan fouled Todd. Again Weatherston took the kick but again he was off-target, this time firing low past the near post.
Montrose came close to opening the scoring in 37 minutes. O’Neil sprayed a pass out wide to Wood on the right wing and his first-time cross was whipped into the six-yard box, where the flying Scott Johnston almost made contact with his head.
The home side came even closer seconds later. A Wood shot was blocked for a corner-kick and when O’Neil’s corner kick came over, Jonathan Crawford saw his header smack off the base of the post, before the ball was scrambled clear.
Half-time: Montrose 0, Annan Athletic 0
In 51 minutes, Annan Athletic thought they had taken the lead when Weatherston knocked home a Todd free-kick but the flag was already up for offside.
In the next minute McKenzie saved Montrose, when he pushed out a cross from McColm. The rebound fell to Rabin Omar but his shot was deflected over the crossbar.
From the corner from Matty Flynn, centre-half Peter Watson headed well over the crossbar.
Four minutes later, Wood got himself into a great shooting position for Montrose but his shot was blocked. The ball fell to Banjo who could only blast the ball straight at ‘keeper Mitchell.
Despite the conditions, play continued to rage from end to end and next to have a go was Annan’s Omar but, just as he was on the point of shooting, Ewan Moyes got back to put in a great saving tackle.
A deathly silence fell over Links Park, when Annan Athletic opened the scoring in 64 minutes. There appeared to be no danger when McNiff took a long throw-in but, as the Montrose defence stood still, RABIN OMAR didn’t and he was able to hook the ball over his head and into the net.
Montrose didn’t lie back from this setback and equalised within sixty seconds. It was the again-impressive David Banjo who did the hard work, he went for a surging run from inside his own half. His low effort was blocked by Mitchell but only as far as debutante JORDAN ALLAN who managed to knock the ball home via the goalkeeper who was lying on the ground. It was no more than the youngster’s performance deserved.
Two minutes later and George Shields’ men were ahead in the match. This time it was full-back Jonathan Crawford who caused the problems for Annan. He raced from his own half and cut inside to get a shot away in the box. Mitchell saved, but the ball broke to Johnston and he crossed back into the danger area for captain GARRY WOOD who blasted home his tenth goal of the season from ten yards out.
Montrose had their tails up and two minutes later Jordan Allan showed some great skill to open up a shooting opportunity, but Alex Mitchell punched the ball over the bar.
Banjo was everywhere and he flicked the ball back into the path of Wood, but this time he shot wide from the edge of the box.
Stephen O’Neil then tested Mitchell with a 25-yard lob, which caught in the wind but the ‘keeper got back to save.
Referee Ryan Milne caused controversy with 15 minutes left, when he allowed Brannan to commit a last-man foul on Allan, only to allow Montrose the advantage which saw Banjo win a corner-kick. If he had allowed the foul to stand the Annan right-back would have walked.
O’Neil took the corner-kick, which Wood headed on, only for Marvin Andrews to head over the crossbar.
Montrose were inches away from a third goal, with ten minutes left, when an O’Neil run saw him put over a perfect cross which Peter Watson knocked behind for a corner-kick but could have so easily found the bottom corner of the net.
With six minutes of the match remaining, Annan carved out another dangerous opportunity. Weatherston headed the ball down into the path of the impressive Omar but, thankfully for the home side, he slipped his effort wide.
Garry Wood looked to seal the home victory with a third goal two minutes later. He collected an Allan pass, then made space for an opening, only to see his shot blocked at the edge of the box.
There was still time for one more Annan Athletic chance at the death, but Ewan Moyes got in a vital challenge with what looked a certain goal.
MONTROSE: McKenzie, Crawford, Graham, Moyes, Andrews, Banjo, O’Neil (McCord), Cameron, Wood, S. Johnston, Allan Subs not used – Harkins, Campbell, Deasley, Webster, McCafferty.