Montrose Football Club’s recent poor form continued as they went down to a first half penalty in a poor match at Cliftonhill Stadium on Saturday.
The home side Albion Rovers had launched their pay what you want scheme for the match and this saw their biggest crowd of the season of 718, but the entertainment on view would do little to encourage the fans back.
If it wasn’t for the early soft penalty kick the sides could have played all day without scoring.
The victory for the home side now means that Montrose have failed to score this year and only twice in their last five games as their play off hopes continue to slip away.
After the goal-less draw with Berwick Rangers at the start of the year Montrose made two enforced changes to their line up out went Stephen McNally and suspended Paul Watson and into the side came Jonathan Crawford at right and Ross McCord in central midfield.
Montrose lined up with McKenzie in goal, Crawford and Bell in the full-back positions with Campbell and Luke Johnston in central defence. Scott Johnston was wide right with Gray on the left. Webster and McCord were in central midfield with Garry Wood and the newly signed Bryan Deasley up front. On the bench were McIntosh, Sturrock, Bonar, Wilson, Reid and goalkeeper Sandy Wood.
Montrose got the match under way in what can only be described as difficult heavy underfoot conditions.
It was Albion Rovers who created the first opportunity in the third minute when Chris Dallas got in behind the Montrose defence and Stuart McKenzie did well to block his shot before Campbell hooked the ball behind for a corner kick.
Bryan Deasley then created a shooting opportunity for Montrose when he took the ball from the half way line only for a home defender to block his shot.
It was Albion Rovers who opened the scoring in the sixth minute when Montrose made a mistake in clearing their lines on the halfway line and Rovers broke forward. They failed to clear the ball inside the box and when Dallas gathered the ball from what looked like an offside position, referee Andrew Dallas pointed to the spot when the ball struck the arms of Alan Campbell. Scott CHAPLAIN stepped up to fire the penalty into the bottom corner although McKenzie was close to making the stop.
Albion Rovers kept up the early pressure and forced a number of corners, which were usually under hit and easily cleared by the Gable Endies defence.
Right back Alan Reid took hold of the ball on the flank and fired in an effort which Alan Campbell got down well to save.
Montrose had their first shooting opportunity of the match in the 17th minute but Graham Webster got his foot under the ball and his effort flew over the crossbar.
A long ball from defence caught out the Montrose defence and Albion Rovers debutant Ryan Donnelly sent his lob over Stuart McKenzie but way wide of the post.
Albion Rovers Josh Flood ran at the Montrose defence and beat three players only to shoot straight into the arms of McKenzie.
With two minutes of a totally unforgettable first half remaining, Ross McCord was fouled by Flood. Luke Johnston’s free kick was knocked down into the path of David Gray who hooked his shot at Neil Parry.
Right on half time, Ross McCord was fouled and he sent his free kick into the arms of Parry in the home goal.
Half time: Albion Rovers 1, Montrose 0.
Craig Bell became the first player to be booked for a late tackle on Josh Flood on the edge of the area. Captain Ciaran Donnelly took the free kick but McKenzie pulled off a smart save.
Seconds later, Montrose gave away another free kick when Luke Johnston was warned for a foul on Cusack. This time the free kick by Donnelly was cleared by the Montrose defence.
Montrose had their first real effort at goal in the 52nd minute when Garry Wood gathered a through ball but his shot from the edge of the area went straight into the arms of Parry.
Rovers won another corner kick six minutes later, which Flood again took but his out swinger was cleared by David Gray.
Seconds later, Josh Flood became the first Rovers player to be yellow carded by referee Dallas after a flare up with Ross McCord.
Montrose had another rare glimpse of the home goal when Scott Johnston got on the end of a Craig Bell cross but he could only head straight at Parry.
Montrose then won a free kick when Garry Wood was fouled in a wide area. Gray’s in-swinging cross was headed on and wide by Alan Campbell and another small opening was gone.
Sixty seconds later, Albion Rovers almost made it two another corner kick from Flood was met by centre half Ross Dunlop but he could only blast over the crossbar when it did seem easier to score.
Craig Bell conceded a needless corner kick in the 64th minute and from Flood’s corner kick the ball found Scott Chaplain at the back post he showed a nice piece of skill to go along the by-line but Stuart McKenzie was equal to the task when he punched his shot over the bar.
Montrose made a positive substitution in the following minute when David Gray was replaced by Lewis Bonar. Bonar went upfront with Deasley moving out to the left wing.
Ross Dunlop was shown the yellow card after he pulled Garry Wood to the ground some 25 yards out from goal. Ross McCord took the resultant free kick and his shot appeared netbound all the way until Neil Parry somehow got his arm to the ball to pull off a wonderful stop.
Montrose then forced a couple of corner but on both occasions they failed to make any head roads and Albion Rovers were able to clear.
In the 82nd minute Montrose made another positive change when Kieran Sturrock came on up front in place of Craig Bell. Montrose went to three at the back with Sturrock pushed up alongside Bonar and Wood.
Stuart McKenzie kept Montrose in the game with a great near post stop after Chris Dallas raced down the left and fired in a low effort from inside the area.
With five minutes remaining, Albion Rovers made their first switch with Ryan Tiffney replacing dangerman Josh Flood.
With two minutes of the match remaining, Montrose missed another great opportunity to equalise. McCord played a great ball wide to Scott Johnston on the right he skipped past a couple of challenges along the edge of the area before curling in an effort which missed the far post by inches.
Montrose went for it and made one final change with Colin Wilson coming on for Scott Johnston and being pushed upfront in a four man attack.
Albion themselves then made a change with Ryan Donnelly being replaced by Jordan Allan.
There was one final chance for Montrose in the dying seconds of stoppage time when a penalty box scramble saw the ball bounce around everywhere but with three attempts at goal nobody in blue could force the ball into the net to salvage a point.
Montrose: McKenzie, Crawford, Bell (Sturrock), Campbell, L. Johnson, Webster, S. Johnston (Wilson), McCord, G. Wood, Deasley, Gray (Bonar) Subs not used – McIntosh, Reid, S. Wood