MONTROSE came from behind to record an ultimately comfortable victory over Division Three basement boys Clyde.
The visitors had taken the lead three minutes into first half stoppage time through Marc McCusker, but a Paul Tosh penalty, a Sean Crighton header and a Martin Boyle strike gave Montrose a well-deserved win.
The Gable Endies welcomed Ross McCord and Paul Tosh back into the side, the midfielder and striker having missed the previous week’s match with Annan Athletic through illness.
Montrose Roselea goalkeeper Ross McLeod was listed as a trialist on the home bench, while Clyde included full-back Gavin Brown and winger Paul McMullen as trialists in their starting 11.
It was the Cumbernauld side which started stronger, and with better finishing could have taken a sizeable lead into the dressing room at half-time. Their first chance came inside 30 seconds, McMullen dragging a shot wide from the edge of the box.
The same player then shot straight at Montrose goalkeeper Sandy Wood two minutes later.
Montrose were on the ropes, and Clyde looked a different side from that beaten 8-1 in the same fixture in September.
A perfect challenge from new Montrose loan signing Kyle Benedictus denied William Sawyer in the seventh minute, the centre back sliding in to hook the ball to safety after the striker had been played in by McCusker. Wood held Alan Lithgow’s header from the resulting corner.
McCusker was a hair’s breadth from opening the scoring in the ninth minute, narrowly failing to connect with the ball at the back post when Nicki Paterson headed past Wood.
Clyde continued to pin their hosts down in their own box, but couldn’t apply the finishing touch, with Lithgow, McMullen and Stuart Mills all going close. Closest of all in the early stages was Ricky Waddell, who went unchallenged on the left wing but sent his low shot inches wide of the target.
Montrose were also causing problems for themselves, Aaron Sinclair needlessly giving the ball away to McCusker, whose cross was met by Sawyer. The striker’s header was on target, but Wood did well to hold the ball.
The home side’s first genuine chance came on the half-hour mark, Sinclair seeing a shot from the edge of the box deflected wide. Midfielder Terry Masson also came close, turning his marker but failing to connect properly with the ball, which trickled into Clyde goalkeeper JC Hutchison’s arms.
Montrose’s best chance of the first half came in the 35th minute, when the ball fell to McCord on the edge of the box after a short spell of head tennis. The young midfielder chested the ball down before crashing a half-volley an inch wide of Hutchison’s far post.
McCord was involved again a minute later, sending a corner to the near post, where it was cleared only as far as Tosh. The striker’s shot was deflected over, and from the second corner the striker was given another opportunity. His long-range shot was on target, but Hutchison easily held the ball on the goal line.
It looked as though the first half would end goal-less, but Clyde finally opened the scoring three minutes into stoppage time. Paterson played the ball into the box, where McCUSKER had time to turn and shoot high into the net.
The goal was no less than Clyde deserved, Montrose having failed to start the match at the same tempo as their visitors.
Half-time: Montrose 0, Clyde 1.
But the home side found themselves level barely two minutes into the second half. Pushing into the Clyde box almost directly from kick-off, McCord was tripped by Waddell. TOSH stepped up to take the spot kick and made no mistakes, sending Hutchison the wrong way.
The Montrose fans’ relief at the immediate equaliser turned into joy nine minutes later when their side took the lead. Martin Boyle’s pace and persistence paid off as the young forward forced Lithgow to concede a corner. McCord’s cross to the near post was met by the head of CRIGHTON, and Hutchison couldn’t prevent the ball flying into the net.
Finding themselves trailing, Clyde began to press forward in search of an equaliser, McMullen curling the ball over the bar from the edge of the box.
Martin Boyle, introduced as a half-time substitute, was a constant threat to the Clyde defence, and he came close to extending Montrose’s lead on the hour mark. His pace carried him onto a McCord through ball, he cut inside Neil McGowan but saw his shot tipped wide.
As legs on both sides began to tire, the match became an increasingly end-to-end affair.
Nicki Paterson forced Wood into a tremendous instinctive save in the 71st minute, and McCusker slammed a shot wide of the post a minute later.
An opportunistic effort from Brown almost caught Wood off guard 10 minutes from time, the full back hooking the ball over his shoulder only to see it drop wide of the post.
Montrose put the result beyond doubt in the 81st minute.
Stephen McNally burst forward from midfield and stumbled through Lithgow’s challenge. With Hutchison advancing he slipped the ball to his left, where BOYLE had the simple task of firing into the empty net.
Both sides continued to look for further goals, Paterson having a shot blocked from substitute John Stewart’s square ball, and Nicol seeing a 25-yard shot tipped over the crossbar after good link-up play from Tosh and Boyle.
Montrose: Wood, McNally, Cameron, Campbell, Benedictus, Crighton, Masson (Boyle 46), Davidson, Tosh, McCord (Nicol 86) and Sinclair.
Unused substitutes: Thomson, Stewart, Trialist [McLeod].
Booked: Benedictus 10, Masson 27, Crighton 39.
Clyde: Hutchison, Trialist [Brown] (Park 83), Waddell, Girvan, Lithgow, McGowan, Mills, McCusker, Sawyer (Stewart 78), Paterson and Trialist [McMullen] (Cochrane 75).
Unused substitutes: Stevenson, Allan.
Booked: McGowan 40