A deflected Iain Campbell free kick was all that separated the sides on Saturday as Forfar Athletic edged past Montrose into the second round of the Petrofac Training Cup.
The visitors dominated the first half and were unfortunate not to take a lead into half time, but Forfar’s substitutions were key as the Loons eventually saw off their local rivals.
Montrose had the first chance inside three minutes when a decent attacking move saw Gary Fraser try his luck from the edge of the box, but his weakly-hit effort was easily saved by Rab Douglas low to his right.
Kevin Nicoll was tasked with sitting in front of the back four and wiping up attacks and he had to do just that on 16 minutes, cutting out a flying Fraser run on the counter attack with a well-timed slide tackle.
The Gable Endies were getting forward with lots of intensity, new signing Ryan Ferguson in particular causing the Loons some defensive concerns.
Ross McCord found Fraser down the right flank, he slipped past Iain Campbell and cut the ball back across goal for Dale Reid but Douglas was down to the danger before Reid could convert the cross.
Reid, Fraser and Scott Johnston were all involved as Montrose bombarded the Forfar penalty area on 40 minutes, with a slew of blocks from the Loons eventually repelling the Gable Endies.
Dick Campbell made two changes as the second period continued in the vein of the first - Forfar struggling to break down a very well drilled Mo back line - as Bryan Hodge and Chris Templeman replaced Danny Denholm and Gavin Malin.
Craig Smith had the chance of the game up to then on the hour mark, crashing the bar with a diving header at the end of Swankie’s excellent free kick cross.
The hosts began to dominate the game and the addition of Kerr Hay on the right wing gave them the injection of pace they needed.
They got the goal their play deserved just shy of 80 minutes when Campbell’s free kick from 20 yards was deflected past Miller in the Mo goal.
Hodge went close to opening his Forfar account from a Hay cross before Miller denied Templeman twice within a matter of seconds, first after a shot from six yards out and then from a close range header - the loanee goalie looks a terrific acquisition by Paul Hegarty on this display.
Terry Masson and Ferguson had chances to level the game but though they were unsuccessful, the League Two side could leave Station Park with their heads held high following a great performance.
There were plenty of positives for Paul Hegarty to take back to Montrose after this display, though he was rightly disappointed to see his side crash out of the cup.
The Mo gaffer said: “We’re delighted with the performance.
“The free kick was soft and the wall didn’t quite deal with it as they should.
“But we’re pleased with the fitness, and the general play as really good.
“We gave Forfar a decent game.
“We eliminated their play and did well. Sometimes you don’t want the half-time whistle to go. We’re pleased with the attitude and application, we’re just disappointed to go out.”