MERPRO returned from Dundee on Saturday with their first Premier league win of the season.
Riverside have been the Midlands’ top side of the past 15 years and this was a notable victory for the Montrose side.
The visitors went into this match with two successive cup-tie wins under their belts but needing to kick-start their league campaign.
Riverside started well, applying early pressure but gradually Merpro settled and played some tidy football.
The Montrose men went ahead in less than 10 minutes when Greig chased down a defender blocking his clearance and then ran in on goal, passing inside for Scott GRAHAM to slot past the ‘keeper from eight yards.
Merpro had a great opportunity to go further ahead when Pert chased down the ‘keeper, forcing him into a loose clearance falling for Houston to run in on goal passing inside for Graham but he dallied and a defender got back to clear.
Riverside settled and had a spell of dominance. Findlay had to make a couple of good saves in close succession to maintain the Merpro lead.
But in 26 minutes the home side equalised with a headed goal from eight yards after a corner kick.
And Riverside came close again a few minutes later with an edge-of-the-box shot going just wide.
Merpro resettled and Greig did well, breaking on the right and firing in a 22-yard shot well saved by the ‘keeper in 35 minutes.
The visitors’ pressure paid off five minutes before the break when Nicol Duff floated in a free kick with the ball falling for Sean WHITWORTH to compose himself and hold off a defender before rifling in a low shot from 10 yards.
Merpro had another effort come close when Whitworth curled in a long free kick with Craig Allan almost getting a touch at the back post.
Half-time: Riverside 1, Merpro 2.
Riverside came roaring out at the start of the second half, keeping Merpro pinned back.
Findlay made a good blocking save as an attacker broke through with the Merpro defenders claiming for offside.
Riverside came close again in 55 minutes with Findlay making another fine instinctive save from a blistering low edge of the box free kick.
Merpro continued under the cosh, attempting to hit on the break but the final composed pass kept eluding them.
The visitors had another great chance when Craig Allan broke through from midfield but, after shimmying past his first marker and then shrugging off another defender, his left foot effort went just wide.
Merpro were enjoying possession and Euan Duff had an opportunity but fired wide from 12 yards.
The Merpro defence was coping well with the Riverside attacks, allowing the Montrose side to get forward. Graham did well with 15 minutes to play, cutting inside off his markers before firing a quick shot agonisingly just over the bar.
The game was end-to-end and Riverside came close with a glancing header going just over.
A good quick passing move in 83 minutes allowed Euan Duff on the left to cut back inside and slip a low pass across the face of goal for Scott GRAHAM to calmly slot into the net from 10 yards with his left foot.
Merpro had another good chance when Pert made a breaking run from midfield but fired his 10-yard shot straight at the ‘keeper.
The drama continued when Merpro were reduced to 10 men when Pert was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Merpro had a final gilt-edged opportunity after Euan Duff won a midfield tackle, slipping a perfect pass through for Graham to run in on goal unopposed. As he attempted to round the ‘keeper he was blocked and the ball was scooped up.
This was a good spirited performance from Merpro with the defence doing well to prevent a second half fightback from Riverside.
Team: Findlay, A. Duff, N. Duff, Lownie (E. Duff), Whitworth, G. Allan, Pert, C. Allan, Graham, Greig, Houston. Substitutes: Brown and Murdoch.