MONTROSE suffered defeat in their first league match of the season, surrendering a two-goal lead over visitors Clyde in the process.
Goals from Lloyd Young and Paul Watson had given the Gable Endies a two-goal advantage in the first half, but strikes from trialist Bryan Gilfillan, John Neil and Stuart McColm saw the Bully Wee record a rare win at Links Park.
Gable Endies’ boss Stuart Garden said: “I never saw that coming.
“In the first half we dominated the game, but in the second half we didn’t pick up the second ball and stopped passing the way we had been.
“We had two great finishes. The first goal was really well worked and for the second, Paul Watson scored the type of strike he is capable of.
“Their first goal gave them a lift. At half-time I felt the next goal was vital and when we made a couple of mistakes, we were punished.
“Their keeper made one great save from Scott Johnston, but we never worked him enough in the second half.
“Paul Lunan was a big miss at the back and we had to take Garry Wood from up top and play in central defence.
“We are short of numbers at the moment.”
Montrose started with striker Garry Wood operating as a centre back in Paul Lunan’s absence, while Jonathan Crawford missed out through suspension and Jamie Winter remained on the injured list.
The home side started the brighter of the two teams, Young shooting over from Craig McLeish’s lay-off. David Gray also came close, sending a looping shot over the crossbar from a Martin Boyle knock-down.
Montrose goalkeeper Sandy Wood was also called into action early on, making a point-blank save from Stefan McLuskey’s shot.
The home side had the lion’s share of possession in the first half, and it finally paid off after 11 minutes. Martin Boyle laid the ball off for Lloyd YOUNG to lash a shot into the net from 25 yards out.
Even better was to follow a quarter of an hour later, Paul WATSON being perfectly positioned to hammer a volley from outside the box into the roof of Jamie Barclay’s net.
Montrose looked confident and could have further extended their lead just three minutes after Watson’s strike. Fast passing football carved open the Clyde backline, but David Gray’s shot was well held by Barclay. At the other end, Gilfillan shot over the crossbar from outside the box.
Scott Johnston’s pace caused problems for the Clyde players, and he came close to adding to the home side’s tally on the half-hour mark, but Barclay did well to collect at the young winger’s feet.
The visitors’ chances in the first half were largely limited to long-range shots and set-pieces. Steven Masterton, playing for Clyde as a trialist, came close with a free kick, but Wood held the ball on the goal line.
The final opportunity of the first half fell to Montrose’s Stephen McNally, but his shot from wide on the right flew over the crossbar.
Montrose started the second half on the front foot, coming close when Johnston tried to apply a finishing touch to Gray’s cross, only for the ball to drop wide of the post. The same player came close seconds later, his shot on the bounce flying over the crossbar.
Gray was a constant threat for Montrose in the first half and the opening period of the second, and the winger saw a fierce volley deflected over the crossbar. He came close again a minute later, whipping a shot narrowly over the crossbar from the edge of the box.
The let-off proved crucial, as Clyde surged up the park to begin their recovery. McLuskey slipped the ball through to the unmarked GILFILLAN, who had time and space to slip a shot past Wood.
The Mo’ attempted to find an immediate response, but Young could only shoot over from McLeish’s corner.
The Bully Wee again took advantage of the poor finishing, NEIL beating Montrose’s Garry Wood and Alan Campbell in a race to the ball, firing into the empty net with Sandy Wood out of position.
Montrose were rattled, and their previous tactic of fast passing along the ground was cast aside in favour of long balls up the park. The change proved unproductive, with Clyde’s back line dealing comfortably with the long balls.
Nonetheless, Scott Johnston came close with a header from Paul Watson’s curled free kick. But Clyde were creating more chances, Masterton shooting wide from outside the box and Sandy Wood forced into a save at the near post from John Neil’s shot.
Lee Sharp also came close, cutting inside but shooting wide of Wood’s near post.
The homesters continued to look for chances to move back in front, McLeish shooting wide of the post from the edge of the box.
Clyde scored the winner nine minutes from time, a neat passing move culminating in Stuart McCOLM shooting into the bottom corner.
Montrose sought an equaliser, but Young’s long-range shot was easily held by Barclay.
Montrose: S Wood, McNally, Watson, Campbell, G Wood, Masson, Gray, McLeish, Boyle, Johnston, Young.
Clyde: Barclay, Kane, Sharp, Gray, Marsh, Trialist [Masterton] (Watt 75), Neil, Sweeney, McLuskey (Graham 84), Trialist [Gilfillan], McColm.