Merpro welcomed Arbroath CSC to Broomfield, for a local Premier League derby on Saturday.
Merpro have been inactive in the league for some time, due to weather postponements and continued success within cup matches, and were keen to get back into league action.
Merpro started well, pushing their opponents back but were unable to create any clear openings. The first chance came, after Graham broke through a couple of challenges in the box to hit a left foot 15-yard shot, parried by the ‘keeper, with Paton’s rebound effort going just wide in 10 minutes.
The match was settling down, with CSC managing to stifle Merpro and begin to set up attacks, with Watson coming close, firing over the bar in 18 minutes.
CSC again came close, when Gillespie fired in a low 25-yard well-hit free-kick, excellently saved by Lownie in 24 minutes.
Merpro held out and began to gain control again, creating a good opportunity in 30 minutes. Whyte made a break forward, passing inside for Greig to weight a perfect pass, allowing Graham to escape his marker and run into the box. He drew out the ‘keeper but slid his chipped effort just wide of the post.
Just as Merpro were gaining ascendancy, the visitors opened the scoring in a quick breakaway move. The dangerous Gillespie skipped past his marker on the bye-line to cut back into the path of McCouaig, who finished with a low, 10-yard shot, to open the scoring after 35 minutes.
Merpro tried to hit back immediately with Paton drifting inside, past a couple of tackles, but fired his 18-yard effort wide in 37 minutes.
CSC continued to stifle and it was the Montrose side feeling frustrated at the break.
Half-time: Merpro 0, Arbroath CSC 1.
Merpro opened the second half well, with Graham and Paton combining to good effect on the left flank, but the latter’s dangerous cross into the box was cleared to safety in 48 minutes.
Graham was next to come close, drifting past his marker to fire in a dangerous 20-yard effort just wide in 50 minutes.
Merpro were gradually building up the pressure and, after a good combination move, Milne fired in a dangerous ball across goal but, frustratingly, there were no takers in 55 minutes.
A few minutes later, another close shave, as a Bruce throw-in was headed just over his own bar by Mathewson. The home side were now completely dominating, with Bruce setting up Rausch, who fired his 16-yard effort over the bar, in 60 minutes.
Next, the home side were denied a penalty, when Brown appeared to handle but the referee was unsighted and unable to award.
After some good midfield play, Greig was left with an opening but lofted his edge-of-the box effort over the bar in 68 minutes.
CSC were unable to set up any attacks with ‘keeper Lownie a virtual spectator, outwith occasional back passes, as the home side’s pressure continued to build. Another penalty claim followed, after Gersok appeared to inadvertently handle a close-range shot in the box.
A cross to the back post was headed back into the box by Euan Duff but Greig under pressure could only direct his header over the bar in 80 minutes. Merpro’s probing continued and, following a fine run by Whyte, he almost created the equaliser himself but, agonisingly, his curled effort slid past the post, in 85 minutes.
Merpro’s pressure was looking to be in vain but the constant pounding finally had some effect as the match went into injury time.
Nicol Duff, pushed forward into the ‘Fellaini’ last-gasp role, latched onto a forward pass to fire in a low cross to the near post. Jordan Rausch reacted quickest to clip a low shot into the net from five yards to grab the equaliser, releasing pent-up emotions in the 91 minutes.
Merpro’s frustration was released but they refused to settle for the draw and pushed on. Further pressure resulted in a free-kick just inside the opposition half and, with the seconds ticking away, Rausch floated in a long ball into a packed box. Murdoch managed to direct a header into the path of Stewart Turriff, who latched onto the knockdown to drive the ball into the net from 10 yards for his first Merpro goal in the 93 minutes.
Amazing scenes, of unbridled Montrose joy, erupted all round as a two-goal injury-time blitz had turned the game and seal a memorable win for the home side.
Ultimately a deserved victory, as Merpro’s probing and pounding, the entire second half, eventually paid dividends. However, CSC’s resolve made it a close shave.
Team: Lownie, Murdoch, Whyte, Greig, N. Duff, G. Allan, Rausch, Bruce, Graham (Christie), Milne (Turriff), Paton (E. Duff). Substitutes: Houghton, Robertson.
Match Sponsor: Jay Christie.