Montrose Football Club moved to within three points of a play-off spot when they wracked up their third home victory in a row against East Stirlingshire at Links Park Stadium on Saturday.
The Montrose players had a lot of questions to answer after the 5–0 defeat the previous Saturday to Berwick Rangers and they did so in style against a side sitting six points above them in the table.
The Gable Endies had the wind to their advantage in the first half and used it to their benefit with a cracking goal from David Gray and top scorer Bryan Deasley’s first since November to build a two-goal lead. Although East Stirlingshire had chances in the second period they rarely tested Stuart McKenzie with every effort blasted well over the crossbar.
Montrose now face a tricky match on Saturday when they visit fourth top Stirling Albion on Saturday to play a team three points better off than them.
With Garry Wood suspended his place was taken by Colin Wilson making a rare start.
The Gable Endies lined up with McKenzie in goal with Crawford and McIntosh again in the full back positions. Wilson and Campbell teamed up in central defence. Webster and Deasley were on the flanks with Masson, Gray and Watson in the middle of the park leaving Scott Johnston in attack on his own.
The Montrose bench consisted off Duguid, Sturrock, McCord, Bonar, Bell and goalkeeper McCafferty.
In the absence of Garry Wood it was Deasley who led Montrose out for their third match of the season against East Stirlingshire.
Montrose created a chance inside the first 60 seconds of the match using the wind to their advantage. Deasley was fouled some 30 yards out and when Watson whipped in the free kick it was the Montrose number 10 who got his head to the ball but his back header was on target but was tipped around the post by Grant Hay.
David Gray got hold of the ball on the far side of the pitch only to lob the ball into the arms of Hay.
Montrose then won a corner kick after some good play from Crawford. Deasley fired in a great low corner kick only for the ball to sale along the penalty area and out of play.
It was Montrose who opened the scoring with 15 minutes on the clock. DAVID GRAY found himself some thirty yards out and his first time effort flew into the net with Hay beaten all ends up. Gray doesn’t do simple goings and he was delighted with his effort and went over to celebrate with the Montrose management team what was his first goal of the season.
Gray went looking for a second goal and three minutes later he latched onto a header from Colin Wilson but sent a low effort into the arms of Grant Hay.
Two minutes later, as the Gable Endies continued to keep up the pressure Johnston won a corner kick off McGregor. Gray’s effort went to the near post only for Alan Campbell to send a near post header over the crossbar.
The visitors had hardly been in the match but they won a corner of their own in the twenty second minute when Watson put behind.
Shepherd’s corner kick was cleared only as far as Bolochoweckyj whose cross was deflected for another flag kick. But again Montrose dealt with the corner from the Shire number seven.
Montrose went straight up the park and Johnston was fouled by Townsley. David Gray took the free kick but he could only shoot straight into the arms of Hay.
Colin Wilson showed the skill of a centre forward when he battled past a couple of challenges before sending a half volley into the arms of ‘keeper Hay from the edge of the area.
On the half hour mark Stuart McKenzie kept Montrose in it when he dived at the feet of Nathan Shepherd inside the box to put the ball behind for a corner kick.
East Stirlingshire immediately broke up the park and almost capitalised on an error by the home defence when Greenhill slipped in Max Wright who skipped into the box around keeper McKenzie and lifted the ball well over the crossbar.
Johnston who was having a good match in attack was flattened again by Miller. Paul Watson took the kick but could only curl the ball wide and behind with nobody touching the ball.
With two minutes of the half remaining ex-Montrose midfielder David Greenhill teamed up with Wright again but this time the number 11 saw his effort well blocked by McKenzie.
East Stirlingshire were made to pay for this miss as Montrose went up the park and added a second goal in the first minute of stoppage time. Crawford played the ball up the line to Graham Webster who showed some great skill to beat his man inside the area and fire in a low near post cross to BRYAN DEASLEY who fired home his ninth goal of the season and his first since mid November and he was delighted with the goal as were his team-mates.
Half time: Montrose 2, East Stirlingshire 0.
The visitors had made a change at the start of the second half with Michael Herd coming on in place of Ricky Miller.
But it was Montrose who had the first opportunity of the second half when Scott Johnston broke down the left and his cross smacked off the Shire crossbar with Hay beaten.
In the 50th minute, Alan Campbell up with the attack played in a great through ball to Johnston but his low effort was well saved by Hay.
On the hour mark, Montrose had a great chance to score a third goal. Johnston won a free kick, which was taken by Deasley. He floated the ball into the box only for Alan Campbell’s header to be cleared off the goal-line by a visiting defender.
In the 70th minute Ricky McIntosh became the first player of the afternoon to be booked after he tripped up Max Wright as he tried to go up the right flank.
East Stirlingshire then made a double switch sending on captain Kevin Turner and Paul Quinn in place of Nathan Shepherd and Graeme McGregor.
Montrose had a let off when McKenzie punched a cross from Wright off his own player and out for an East Stirlingshire corner. When the corner came in Scott Johnston defending his near post was flatten by the boot of Kevin Turner in the head as the Shire player tried to catch the ball. Turner was immediately booked by referee Nick Walsh for dangerous play.
Johnston was groggy but was able to return to the field of play after treatment.
Shire kept up the pressure in search of a goal and in the 79th minute Bolochoweckyj headed a Maxwell corner over the crossbar.
It was quiet clear Johnston had not recovered and after shouts to the bench from the players he was helped off the park and replaced by Ross McCord.
The visitors were claiming a penalty when substitute Herd and Campbell tangled in the box but it was the home player who required treatment after taking a kick from the visiting player.
In the 85th minute Bolochoweckyj found himself unmarked at the angle but the centre half blasted the ball over the crossbar and another East Stirlingshire chance had gone.
With the visitors claiming a corner kick substitute Paul Quinn was booked for dissent.
In stoppage time Jonathan Crawford became the fourth booking of the afternoon for a trip on Wright and when McKenzie punched away the free kick the Shire’s last chance of picking up something from the match had gone.