Elgin City 3
Montrose Football Club’s play-off hopes suffered a major blow on Saturday when a goal two minutes from time cost them a more than deserved point against Elgin City at Borough Briggs.
The result sent the Gable Endies out of the play-off positions on goal difference after Berwick Rangers won 4–1 at home to Queen’s Park. The Gable Endies now face three crucial matches against Clyde, Queen’s Park and Annan Athletic to get their good season back on track.
Montrose were the better side on the day at Elgin, putting together some great moves and scoring two good goals, but defensive lapses pulled the home side back into the match with the final goal coming from a hotly disputed penalty late in the match.
With top scorer Martin Boyle passing a late fitness test after his injury against Stirling Albion, manager Stuart Garden was required to make only one change to his line up with Garry Wood returning from injury to replace the injured Ricky McIntosh. This change saw Wood go up front with Scott Johnston being pushed to the left.
Elgin City put Montrose under some early pressure when Campbell headed a Gunn cross out for the corner kick. Moore’s corner found David Niven whose shot was blocked for another fruitless home corner kick.
In the second minute Watson fouled Gunn giving away a free kick. Moore whipped in the dead ball but Gibson gathered.
Montrose created their first chance in the following minute when Boyle raced clear of Cameron only to be fouled. Watson took the kick from the right which found Garry Wood who worked a shooting position before dragging his over-head kick over the crossbar.
Gavin Morrison was warned by referee Northcroft for a late tackle on Masson.
In the eighth minute Elgin City almost snatched the lead. Gunn broke the Montrose offside trap and squared the ball across the face of the goal to the unmarked Stuart Leslie some six yards out. He looked set to score but Alan Campbell somehow got back to block on the line.
Four minutes later Young tripped Moore giving away a free kick. Morrison’s kick found Craig Gunn but the striker could only shoot wide.
After weathering the early pressure Montrose almost took the lead when Watson delivered a cross from the left into the near post area but Scott Johnston could only side-foot wide from six yards.
Sixty seconds later Montrose missed another great chance. Wood put Boyle racing clear inside the box with only Malin to beat but as he was about to shoot Duff got back to put in a saving tackle with the ball going out for a corner.
Two minutes later Martin Boyle had another great chance for Montrose when he gathered a Johnston cross at the far post, only for goalkeeper Joe Malin to pull off an excellent stop from his first time volley.
In the 22nd minute a long throw in from Stephen McNally caused Elgin City all sorts of problems inside the box, and ‘keeper Malin again saved his side with a wonderful stop to keep out a point blank range header from Lloyd Young.
Montrose finally opened the scoring in the 27th minute with a great goal. Stephen McNally cut inside his marker before threading an inch perfect pass through to Terry MASSON. The midfielder raced clear from the half way line, and drew out ‘keeper Malin before firing the ball low into the corner of the net.
With five minutes of the half remaining Elgin City’s Stuart Leslie got in a shot from 10 yards out but John Gibson got down well to save.
In the 42nd minute, out of nothing, the home side found an undeserved equaliser. Montrose lost the ball in midfield and when it was played wide, left back McMULLAN had acres of space to run into before he drilled the ball low into the corner of the net.
Montrose suffered another blow on the stroke of half-time when Jamie Winter was forced off with a groin injury. Ross McCord came on into the middle of the park in his place.
Half-time: Elgin 1, Montrose 1.
The second half started with the Gable Endies having to make a further change when a shoulder injury forced ‘keeper John Gibson to be replaced by Sandy Wood.
Despite the changes it was Montrose who had the first chance of the second half when a long throw-in from McNally was headed on by Wood into the path of Young, whose hooked effort was blocked by a home defender.
Montrose deservedly regained the lead in the 51st minute. Lloyd Young went on a great run through the middle of the park before he slotted a ball through to the on side Scott JOHNSTON who blasted home a low shot into the net from the edge of the box before going off to celebrate with the visiting support.
Terry Masson earned his 13th booking of the season for a tackle on Morrison who made the most of it.
Close to the hour mark Scott Johnston became the second Montrose player to be booked, for a foul on Niven.
After all the good work to regain the lead Montrose gave away a soft equaliser to the home side in the 62nd minute. Watson and Johnston got into a mess on the left and when the ball was played inside Paul HARKINS was on hand to fire it into the roof of the net from 25 yards.
Montrose tried to force their way back into the match and two Stephen McNally throw-ins caused problems for Elgin City before they managed to clear the danger.
In the 71st minute Elgin City’s Stuart Leslie was booked for a late tackle on Lloyd Young.
With 11 minutes remaining Ross McCord was stopped in his tracks by a trip from Harkins who was yellow-carded by referee Northcroft. Paul Watson swung over the free kick, McNally headed it down but found no takers and the chance was gone.
With ten minutes remaining Elgin City made their first change with Dennis Wyness coming on in place of Stuart Leslie.
Two minutes later Montrose took off pre-match injury doubt Martin Boyle and replaced him with Leighton McIntosh.
Disaster struck with two minutes remaining when Scott Johnston and David Niven tangled inside the penalty area. Referee Northcroft sided with the home team and awarded Elgin City what appeared to be a very soft penalty kick. Despite Montrose protests the kick stood and when the dust had settled Paul HARKINS sent Sandy Wood the wrong way from the spot to give Elgin the lead for the first time in the match.
After that Elgin managed to play out time with the only point of note being a late booking for McMullan for kicking the ball away.
The result brought the Borough Briggs side to within one point of Montrose in the table as the struggle to gain play-off places continues.
Montrose: Gibson (S. Wood), McNally, Watson, Campbell, Lunan, Winter (McCord), Young, Masson, Boyle (L. McIntosh), G. Wood, Johnston. Substitutes not used – Gray and Crawford.