Season’s sizzler!

Stranraer 4,

Montrose 4

ON THE 100th league meeting at Stair Park on Saturday between Stranraer and Montrose the sides served up an absolute thriller in the division’s game of the season so far.

With 64 minutes gone Montrose were four goals behind. But Sean Pierce was sent crashing to the ground inside the box by home ‘keeper Mitchell, who was sent off. Pierce netted the resultant penalty and kickstarted a dream spell of four goals in 10 minutes by the Gable Endies.

After the 3–1 midweek defeat at Elgin, Montrose made two changes. In came McNally and Lunan in place of Masson and Pierce, both on the bench.

Stranraer opened the scoring in the seventh minute. Malcolm found Sean WINTER who chested the ball down and from inside the box shot into bottom right corner.

An outswinging corner by Jamie Winter found Crighton’s head but he missed the target and the ball went wide of Mitchell’s far post.

Montrose went further behind in the 18th minute. Aitken took an outswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post. Jamie Winter cleared but only as far as MALCOLM who shot into the bottom corner from close range.

The Gable Endies’ nightmare continued in the next minute when Stranraer’s MALCOLM was allowed too much time inside the box to score his second goal and his side’s third.

In the 25th minute Montrose made a tactical substitution with Sean Pierce coming on to replace Jonathan Crawford. Pierce moved to the left side of the midfield to support Douglas Cameron.

In 34 minutes new Stranraer striker Grehan got in a shot but Andrews pulled off a great save.

Stranraer forced a couple of corner kicks but firstly Cameron then Smart cleared the danger as Montrose went off at half time lucky to be only three goals down after a poor first half display.

Half-time: Stranraer 3, Montrose 0.

Midfield playmaker Aitken had the first effort of the second half for Stranraer but his shot went harmlessly over.

It looked to be game over for Montrose in the 53rd minute when Stranraer scored a fourth. GREHAN found the bottom corner of the net after he received a pass from Taggart.

In the 58th minute Stranraer made their first substitution with Kane coming on to replace Noble.

Montrose grabbed a goal back in the 64th minute when Pierce was brought down inside the area by Stranraer ‘keeper Mitchell. The home keeper was shown the red card by referee Robertson for the professional foul. Before the penalty could be taken the home side took off Grehan and replaced him with Marshall. PIERCE stepped up to make his usual excellent job from the penalty spot.

Montrose continued their fightback and in the 69th minute they had their second of the afternoon. Again it was substitute PIERCE who was on the mark. He gathered a pass from Boyle and his shot squirmed under substitute goalkeeper Marshall from close-in.

The unthinkable became a possibility when 60 seconds later Montrose struck again. This time it was Jamie WINTER who netted with a tremendous strike from 35 yards out to give Montrose their third goal of the afternoon. It was Winter’s third goal of the season.

The unbelievable happened in the 74th minute when Montrose completed the comeback of the season, this or any other, when they scored a fourth goal. Gallagher gave away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Pierce. McNally’s free kick was blocked but only as far as Jamie WINTER who found the net with a low effort which beat Marshall. The goal sent the Montrose players and dugout wild and left Stranraer stunned.

The home side made their final change with McColm coming on for Gallagher.

Winter almost completed his hat trick in the 79th minute when he let fly from distance with his right foot. The ball went just wide with Marshall once again well beaten.

Boyle thought he was through on goal but his run was cut short when the offside flag was raised.

In the 83rd minute Pierce was fouled by Taggart. Referee Robertson awarded a free kick and booked Taggart. Winter fired in a strike on goal direct from the free kick, but Taggart got in a block. The resultant in swinging corner was taken right-footed by Winter from the left by-line to the near post but John Kane made a clearance.

Three minutes later Stranraer won a corner of their own but Crighton got up to clear from Aitken’s kick.

With two minutes left Montrose made a second substitution of the afternoon with Masson coming on to replace two goal hero Winter.

On full time Johnston was caught offside as the Gable Endies pressed for a fifth goal.

McColm then became the second Stranraer player to go into the referee’s book.

In the second minute of stoppage time Montrose had one last chance when they won a corner kick. Cameron swung over the kick only for Kane to clear the danger.

What a match! All credit must go to the Montrose players who fought back from four goals down with 25 minutes remaining to grab a point against all the odds. It is a match that will be long remembered by both sets of supporters - for different reasons!

Montrose: Andrews, Crighton, Cameron, Smart, Campbell, Lunan, McNally, Crawford (Pierce), Boyle, Winter (Masson), Johnston. Substitutes: Dimilta and McPhee.