STIRLING ALBION ............................3
Montrose Football Club saw their five match unbeaten run come to an end at the hands of Stirling Albion at Forthbank Stadium on Saturday.
Having not suffered a defeat since the second Saturday of the season, it was a disappointing performance from Stuart Garden’s side. A victory would have taken them within a point of league leaders East Stirlingshire, who they face this weekend at Links Park.
For the sides first match in two weeks and injury ruling out Gareth Rodger and Alan Campbell it was same again for Montrose who lined up with McKenzie in goal, McNally and McIntosh in the full back roles with Wilson and Crawford in central defence. Gray, Masson, Watson and Johnston were in midfield with Wood and Deasley up front.
On the bench for Montrose was Webster, McCord, Bonar, Sturrock, Bell and for the first time in a league fixture this season goalkeeper Sandy Wood who replaced Dean Easton.
The match was delayed in getting underway after the assistant pulled up a hole in the goal net and waited for the Stirling Albion staff to fix the problem before it could start.
The game was only a minute old when Stirling Albion took the lead. Some defensive errors lead to Wilson chesting the ball behind for a corner kick and when Danny Ashe sent over an over swinging corner Chris SMITH was able to send a downward header into the net, immediately throwing the Montrose game plan out of the window.
Montrose tried to hit back and Johnston won a free kick when he was fouled by McGeachie. Gray’s in-swinger was cleared as far as Watson, who hooked the ball back into the area only for the home side to clear.
In the 10th minute, Wood headed the ball onto Deasley, who turned inside the area but could only shoot weakly into the arms of ex-Gable Endie David Crawford.
Montrose won their first corner kick two minutes later, but David Gray could only curl in an effort into the arms of Crawford.
The visitors continued to keep up the pressure and a great cross field ball from Gray found Garry Wood, but from 25 yards out he turned and fired straight at the GK.
Montrose did find the equaliser in the 16th minute with a well taken goal. Gray passed inside to Bryan DEASLEY and he turned his marker brilliantly inside the box to rifle home his sixth goal of the season into the bottom corner.
The Gable Endies continued to keep up the pressure, and four minutes later Paul Watson let fly from 30 yards out and his effort was far away from fining its target.
In the 36th minute, Montrose should have taken the lead, Stephen McNally got clear on the right and fired in a low cross along the six yard area, which was missed by everyone, before McGeachie tried to clear at the far post, only for the ball to find Scott Johnston, but he couldn’t force it home when it got tangled under his feet.
In the following minute, David Gray tried his luck from 25 yards out by Crawford in the Stirling Albion goal was equal to the task.
With five minutes of the half remaining, Jordan White broke from the midfield and fired in a shot, which was deflected wide off Watson.
McIntosh headed clear Ashe’s corner but only as far as Phil Johnston, whose netbound volley was brilliantly tipped wide by Stuart McKenzie.
In the final minute of the half, Bradley Coyne, just back from a year out with a cruciate ligament injury, turned on the edge of the box and his effort was just wide of McKenzie’s far post.
Half time: Stirling Albion 1, Montrose 1.
Montrose started the second half just as badly they did the first. They allowed Stirling Albion to regain the lead, Watson lost possession on the half way line with a loose header, this allowed Phil Johnston to outpace McIntosh down the right. He sent over a low cross, off balance, which Ferry missed and so did the Montrose defence and Jordan WHITE knocked the ball home from a few yards out.
Montrose had strong appeals for a penalty turned down in the 51st minute when it appeared that Garry Wood got pushed from behind inside the box but referee Gavin Ross waved play on despite strong protests from the Montrose dugout.
Terry Masson then tested Crawford with a 35 yard effort but the keeper had no problems gathering the ball.
Scott Johnston got free on the left and slipped a great pass into captain Wood, he turned quickly inside the area but blasted the ball over the bar.
Montrose were keeping up the pressure on the Stirling Albion goal and McNally and Gray linked up to find Masson running in on goal but the midfielder fired a low effort into the arms of Crawford.
On the hour mark Montrose almost fell further behind. Bradley Coyne found himself clear on the left inside the area but Jonathan Crawford came across to block his effort with a last gasp tackle.
Stirling Albion goalscorer White then became the first booking of the afternoon after committing another foul on a Montrose player.
Montrose made their first change of the afternoon in the 65th minute, when Ross McCord came on to replace Terry Masson.
The home side won a free kick when Johnston was fouled on the left. Gray whipped in a dangerous ball but Stephen McNally just couldn’t get on the end of it at the far post.
With twenty minutes of the match remaining, Montrose made their second change, Graham Webster came on in place of David Gray.
Two minutes later, Stirling Albion made their first change with Sandy Cunningham replacing Bradley Coyne. The young substitute didn’t wait long to make his mark and sealed a victory for the home side. A crossfield ball wasn’t dealt with by the Montrose defence, and despite Montrose claiming for offside CUNNINGHAM was onside and he was able to run through and dink the ball over McKenzie and into the net.
Montrose had another chance to score two minutes later when Deasley fired over a cross from the right but Wood could only head over the crossbar.
Montrose made their final change in the 77th minute, when they brought on Lewis Bonar for Scott Johnston and went three up front.
David McClune then went in hard on Paul Watson, who reacted to the challenge by squaring up to his opponent. Both were booked by referee Ross.
Stirling Albion brought on Graham Weir for Phil Johnston.
In stoppage time Ricky McIntosh became the second Montrose booking of the afternoon after he took three attempts to foul Cunningham.
Stirling’s final change came when Chris Paton came on for Jordan White.
Montrose had one last chance to score in the third minute of stoppage time, but after taking a Deasley pass, Paul Watson could only fire the ball straight at Crawford.
The tightness of League 2 at the moment means Montrose are in eighth place, two points off second place, with a game in hand over a few of the sides in the league.
Montrose never really recovered from losing the opening goal after only sixty seconds, and although they equalised through Bryan Deasley and had the better of the first half they fell over of things in the second period when they again lost an early goal. The performance was probably Montrose’s poorest of the season with Stirling Albion manager Greig McDonald claiming it was his side’s best.
Montrose must now look to gather six points from their two forthcoming home fixtures against The Shire on Saturday and Queen’s Park in a re-arranged fixture three days later to keep their impressive recent run going which saw Stuart Garden winning the SPFL Division 2 manager of the month award for September.
Montrose: McKenzie, McNally, McIntosh, Wilson, Crawford, Masson (McCord), Gray (Webster), Watson, G. Wood, Deasley, Johnston (Bonar) Subs not used – Sturrock, Bell, S. Wood.