MONTROSE put up an excellent performance against a high flying Stranraer side with a good home record, having only lost twice at home in the league all season one of which was to Montrose.
Stranraer lined up without the injured Michael Moore but the influential Scott Agnew was in midfield and the nippy Craig Malcolm up front with man-mountain Armand One. Montrose were missing the injured Ross McCord thanks to picking up a hamstring injury in training and the rested Martin Boyle.
Paul Tosh was up front with Conor Thomson who has developed a habit of scoring at Stair Park – and did it again. Sandy Wood was in goal with a back three of Kyle Benedictus, Steven Tweed and Alan Campbell. The midfield were Stephen McNally, Terry Masson, Scooby Davidson, Aaron Sinclair and Dougie Cameron although McNally and Cameron were effectively pushed back into a back five for most of the first half.
Daryl Nichol, Sean Crighton, Nicky Smith, Chris Hegarty and Matthew Smith were on the bench.
After initial sparring at either end a win looked possible as Montrose took the lead in eight minutes. A ball dinked over the top into the inside right hole was brought down well by CONOR THOMSON who despatched his angled shot inside the foot of the left hand post from about the edge of the area. Could Montrose hang on to it? No.
Four minutes later the nippy CRAIG MALCOLM latched on to the ball and fired flat against the crossbar. It could have gone anywhere but landed right at his feet again and he had a simple task to equalise.
Just after that the lively Thomson had a good goalbound shot well saved by David Mitchell in the Stranraer goal but for the rest of the first half Stranraer strengthened their grip on the game with a series of corners.
Apart from the odd breakaway and good shots by Thomson and Sinclair the nearest thing to the Stranraer goalmouth for the rest of the first half was a passing train.
Just before half-time Thomson was fortunate to escape a booking as he brought down Danny Mitchell on the edge of the Montrose area.
Then Wood made a terrific one handed save as the ball fell kindly to One who moments later fluffed a good chance well wide.
The half ended with Scooby Davidson trying a shot from 25 yards and you can guess where that went as it caught up with that passing train.
Half-time: Stranraer 1, Montrose 1.
Steven Tweed’s half-time bellow resulted in Montrose getting back to the 3-5-2 starting formation which started to work more effectively as there was not enough threat moving forwards in the first half and he was marshalling the defence well.
Stranraer looked dangerous down the left and twice the ball flew across the Montrose goal but with no takers. Then Sinclair was fouled on the edge of the Stranraer box but the free kick went tamely to keeper Mitchell.
The Gable Endies were pushing up more, with Masson particularly effective, but Stranraer had another purple patch. A goal looked inevitable, but the visitors coped well.
Davidson was booked, Nicol came on for Sinclair after 60 minutes and at the same time One went off for Stranraer with Stuart McColm coming on. The home side twice had the ball in the net but both times the whistle had gone well before. Then Campbell did well at both ends, firstly clearing a dangerous Stranraer attack then heading a Montrose corner just over, Yes, it was still end to end stuff.
Gallagher the Stranraer centre half was next to see the yellow card just before Montrose took the lead for the second time. Masson took a corner on the left which was headed away for another corner on the right. Cameron swung over a deep cross which was met cleanly by substitute DARYL NICOL who made no mistake to put Montrose 2–1 up with his first goal of the season. Could they hang on to the lead for the last 20 minutes or so? No.
Three minutes later in the 74th minute Stranraer made another substitution with Murphy off and Sean Winter on. And it was SEAN WINTER who scored the second equaliser with his first touch as he smacked it in via the underside of the bar from a congested goalmouth.
A second Montrose substitution followed with Masson off and Hegarty on in midfield. Tweed was harshly booked as Montrose survived a tough few minutes. A third substitution halted the game as Nicky Smith came on for Tosh in the 86th minute then Hegarty tried his luck from 25 yards.
The last few minutes refreshingly saw Montrose pushing forward to snatch a winner and the last gasp had Tweed sending in a good header but Mitchell was able to collect it.
A very decent Montrose performance saw several candidates for man of the match. Thomson did well up front, Cameron did well as did all the back line but Steven Tweed shaded it from Alan Campbell. There is no doubt that this squad has some quality and on this display they have shown they are fully behind manager Tweed. Montrose missed McCord and might have won it with his link up play but what is perhaps missing is confidence particularly with one or two out there who are really better than they themselves think they are.
Montrose: Wood, McNally, Cameron, Benedictus, Campbell, Tweed, Masson (Hegarty), Davidson, Tosh (N. Smith), Thomson, Sinclair (Nicol) Subs – Crighton, N. Smith.