Report: Poor start to Annan clash costs Montrose dearly in play-off race

Match action.
Match action.

Annan Athletic survived a second-half onslaught from Montrose to move eight points clear in the search for a play-off spot.

Unfortunately the Gable Endies just couldn’t find what would have been a deserved equaliser that their second half play merited.

There wasn’t anything special to the visitors' play with route one being the preferred option but it certainly got the better of Stewart Petrie’s men who suffered only their third defeat under his charge.

The match kicked off in torrential rain at Links Park, and it was Annan who took the lead after just five minutes.

Having stopped play for an incorrect offside decision, referee Gavin Ross restarted the action with a drop ball.

Annan won the bounce-up and surged into the Montrose end, Rabin Omar applying the finish by blasting the ball across Jordan Millar and into the top corner.

The visitors' advantage lasted only two minutes though, Chris Templeman flicking on a long ball from Cammy Ballantyne, allowing Gary Fraser to control in the box and fire a low shot past visiting goalkeeper Blair Currie for his 11th goal of the season.

Annan regained the lead once again in the 15th minute when Millar mistimed his attempt to catch Omar's cross, allowing Max Wright to knock the ball into the net from six yards out with his back to goal.

The Galabankies pulled two goals ahead in the 23rd minute when the ball dropped to Steven Swinglehurst after Montrose failed to clear a corner, the defender curling a shot over Millar and into the net using the wind to his advantage.

Montrose were given the chance to pull a goal back in the 34th minute when Andrew Steeves was tripped in the Annan box by Jean-Guy Lucas.

Fraser stepped up to take the penalty, but his low shot down the middle of the goal rebounded off Currie's legs and out to safety.

Montrose had another claim for a penalty kick two minutes later when Fraser appeared to be tripped but referee Ross decided to booked the Montrose striker for diving

The Gable Endies started the second half on the attack as conditions cleared slightly.

Templeman's low ball into the box was scooped to safety and a Fraser free kick was held by Currie on the goal line after Masson was fouled

Montrose pulled a goal back in the 56th minute when an Andrew Steeves cross wasn’t cleared properly by the visiting defence and Kerr Hay was on hand to volley home from 10 yards out for his second goal in a week.

The hosts' cause got better when Annan's Darren Ramsay was sent off in the 58th minute, the former Rangers midfielder receiving a straight red card for a vicious challenge on Hay.

With their opponents reduced to 10 men, Montrose went on the offensive in pursuit of an equaliser.

Templeman came close twice in the space of a minute, heading wide on both occasions from excellent deliveries.

Montrose captain Terry Masson was sent clear of the Annan defence in the 66th minute, but was unable to apply the finish before Blair Currie managed to grab hold of the ball.

Templeman again came close in the 68th minute, his diving header from Hay's cross flying inches wide of the post.

With time running out, Graham Webster was denied when his shot was cleared off the line, while Michael Bolochoweckyj headed over when Templeman flicked a corner to him in the box.

Currie secured all three points for Annan in the final minute, making a great save when Callum MacDonald headed Liam Callaghan's corner at goal.

Montrose will play worse and grab all three points this season but they were made to pay from some dreadful defending in the first 25 minutes.