MONTROSE crashed out of their second cup competition in the space of a week to First Division Raith Rovers, a side which had just missed out on promotion to the Premier League last season.
On a glorious sunny day the 614 fans were entertained not only by the players but by match referee Brain Colvin who managed to send off two Montrose players and book a further four players (two from each side) after a crazy mass brawl in the centre circle midway through the second half.
This basically ended the match as a contest and Montrose’s chances of following up their pre-season victory over the same side.
This was a vastly improved home performance in the Scottish Communities League Cup and Montrose must look to take this form into their league campaign which starts away to East Stirlingshire on Saturday.
After the 6-1 defeat to East Fife in the Ramsden’s Cup, the Gable Endies made two changes. Into the side came new signing Jamie Winter after his move from Broughty Athletic was finally sealed, and David McGowan. Out of the side went Jonathan Crawford and Scott Johnston.
There was also a place on the home substitutes’ bench for Paul Lunan for the first time.
In the opening minute Montrose carved out the first opportunity of the match when David McGowan cut inside his marker but could only shoot into the arms of ‘keeper McGurn.
With 11 minutes gone a strong run from Masson was halted by a Raith Rovers player some 25 yards out but Winter could only hit the free kick into the wall before the ball was cleared.
The visitors then created a chance when a Hammill corner was blocked back to the same player and his cross was headed over a close range by captain Grant Murray.
With 15 minutes gone Montrose opened the scoring. Boyle won a corner kick which was taken by Cameron, the ball was cleared out to Dimilta whose shot was also cleared but only as far as debutant JAMIE WINTER who curled the ball home into the corner of the net from the edge of the box for a fantastic first goal in Montrose colours.
In the 22nd minute Raith Rovers’ Daniel Thomson was warned for a foul on Winter. Campbell swung the kick forward but the ball went sailing out of play.
Three minutes later Montrose wasted a good opportunity to add a second goal. A great run from Dimilta took him inside the area his shot was blocked but it fell back to the winger and his cross was just missed by the inrushing Martin Boyle. The ball then came back to Winter and again when it seemed easier to score Boyle just couldn’t quite force the ball home under pressure from a defender.
Seconds later Jonathan Smart became the first booking of the afternoon with what appeared to be a soft foul on ex-Montrose favourite John Baird. It was only later in the game that the card was going to prove costly.
From the corner kick Raith Rovers equalised. The ball was swung over by Joe Hammill and IAIN WILLIAMSON appeared unmarked at the far post to bullet home a header into the roof of the net.
With 10 minutes of the half remaining Raith Rovers missed a great chance for a second goal. Hammill squared the ball across goal to John Baird but ‘keeper Andrews somehow managed to keep the ball out of the net with a wonderful save from point blank range when it seemed easier to score.
Allan Walker became the second booking of the match in the 38th minute for a foul on Terry Masson.
With five minutes of the half remaining Raith won a free kick in a dangerous position after Masson fouled Thomson. Brian Graham stepped up to take the free kick but hit the Montrose wall.
Raith Rovers kept up the pressure and this time Alan Campbell was forced to clear off the line after a chip shot from Walker appeared to be going into the net.
Montrose got the second half under way and in the 47th minute a flick from Winter seemed set to put Boyle through on goal but the youngster appeared to be held back only for referee Colvin to wave play on.
In the 50th minute a slack pass-back from Terry Masson put John Baird in on goal but after rounding Andrews from a tight angle Alan Campbell managed to get back to clear the ball off the line for a second time.
A minute later the First Division side took the lead for the first time in the tie. Montrose failed to clear a cross and when the ball came back in from the other side Allan Walker was on hand to head the ball powerfully past Andrews at the far post.
Two minutes later the Gable Endies found themselves further behind and again it was from a cross ball. This time Williamson was given all the time in the world to get in a cross from the right and who else but JOHN BAIRD was on hand to head past Andrews from close range.
In the 58th minute a McNally pass gave Martin Boyle a run at goal and the youngster won his side a corner kick. Cameron’s inswinger was cleared only as far as Dimilta but his shot was blocked before being cleared.
Terry Masson became the second Montrose player to be booked after a tangle with Thomson on the hour-mark.
Seconds later manager Ray Farningham made a double switch in an effort to get back into the match, bringing on Scott Johnston and Sean Pierce for David Dimilta and David McGowan.
Two minutes later the match exploded into life after a mass brawl in the middle of the park. Firstly Jonathan Smart was shown a second yellow card followed by a red after he planted his boot on the shoulder of Thomson. As the player lay on the ground awaiting treatment, players from both sides decided to get involved in a mass flare-up on the centre circle.
Once things had calmed down referee Colvin showed yellow to Sean Crighton, then on the advice of the far side assistant yellow cards to Jamie Winter and Raith Rovers’ Brian Graham. He then came over to the standside assistant and showed a yellow to party villain John Baird, but he wasn’t finished there and to complete his card show off went Montrose captain Stephen McNally to reduce the home side to nine men and finish the tie as a spectacle. McNally wasn’t happy and showed his disgust on his way down the tunnel. Why Baird remained on the park was a mystery as he appeared as guilty as McNally to any offence.
After the four-minute stoppage, Montrose took off Martin Boyle in an effort to shore up the defence and brought on Paul Lunan for his Montrose debut. Lunan slotted into central defence alongside Alan Campbell.
With 15 minutes remaining Winter won Montrose a corner kick which he took himself but Sean Crighton couldn’t get on the end of things but the Gable Endies won another corner which Winter again took only to see Campbell’s header held.
In the 77th Raith Rovers scored a fourth goal. Michael Andrews pulled off a great stop to deny Williamson and the ball fell to DANIEL THOMSON who found the bottom corner
Referee Brian Colvin then played four minutes of stoppage time before blowing the full-time whistle.
Montrose: Andrews, Crighton, Cameron, Campbell, Smart, Masson, McNally, Winter, Boyle (Lunan), McGowan (Johnston), Dimilta (Pierce) Substitutes not used – Crawford and Wood.