The PITCH at Balmoor was in excellent condition on Saturday.
It was the Blue Toon’s third home league game and evidence of the first, against Rangers, was still there in the form of scaffolding terraces around most of the ground which boosted the attendance and the finances along with another £30,000 TV money for a ‘live’ game. Links Park can only hope for a similar windfall in December.
Montrose lined up in their yellow and black away strip with new left-back, loan signing Ricky McIntosh, in from the off along with Leighton McIntosh up front at number nine. Paul Watson was absent as he picked up a knee injury at Dunfermline in midweek.
The visitors won a free kick in the first minute. Gray took it from 25 yards out on the right but, wind assisted, it went past the left-hand upright.
Gray had another shot deflected over for a corner which resulted in McLeish also having his shot knocked away for another corner. Leighton McIntosh and Garry Wood linked up well as twin strikers. Despite Montrose pressure there was always the threat of danger from the front two of Peterhead and Montrose lost possession more than once in midfield.
From one such error McAllister was put through and only a long outstretched leg from Campbell averted the danger.
A long ball from Crawford sent McLeish away but the wind carried it to McCallum in the opposite goal. McAllister was booked for a crunching tackle on Ricky McIntosh and from the resultant free kick Gray shot narrowly over.
Lunan was called on to tidy up at the back before another bad tackle had Garry Wood writhing on the ground. Still no cards were produced by referee Duncan.
Whatever Peterhead manager Jim McInally said to his team at half-time was effective as they made it difficult for Montrose straight away. Decent chances came and went. Gray was booked for something which escaped our reporter, but it may have been verbal.
Then out of the blue Peterhead scored. McALLISTER collected a ball way out wide right and lingered whilst awaiting support but then took a step to his right before unleashing a powerful right footed curler into the top right hand corner. Wind assisted you could not fault Crawford in the Montrose goal – it was a great goal.
Crawford made a great one-on-one save when Rob Winters looked favourite but that was as much as we would see of Winters as he was replaced by big Martin Bavidge on 55 minutes. The Mo were still under pressure from a series of corners which were difficult to deal with against wind-assisted inswingers. The wind was stronger and the sun gave way to steady rain as well as wind in the faces of the Montrose defenders.
McAllister should have scored again on the 62 minute mark but he hesitated when in too much space and faced with the onrushing Crawford the forward player lobbed it over the top. Wind, rain and whatever else in the way McNally then made a surge down the right but his cross was met by a weak McIntosh finish. Masson was booked when going for a 50/50 ball and getting there second but Montrose won the ball back and Johnston crossed for McIntosh to loop his header onto the roof of the net rather than into it.
The sort of danger expected from Peterhead came in the 72nd minute as a long clearance from McCallum found McALLISTER running clear of the Mo back line and he made light work of rounding Crawford before side-footing home.
Cowie was replaced by Maguire before a period of Montrose domination. A great move through midfield involving Masson and McLeish saw Gray and McNally also involved before the latter whizzed a ball across the six yard box but there were no takers.
The second half was played at a much quicker pace than the first as Montrose toiled against the elements and found it hard to maintain forward momentum. McAllister was replaced by Deasley but his afternoon’s work had been done by that point. Crawford made a fantastic save from Bavidge then on 90 minutes McLeish at the other end had a fierce shot turned away for a corner and the last action of the game.
Montrose: D. Crawford, McNally, R. McIntosh, Lunan, Campbell, Masson, Gray, McLeish, L. McIntosh, G. Wood, Johnston. Substitutes – Young, J. Crawford, Gordon, Reid and S. Wood.