Montrose Football Club look set for an end-of-season pyramid play-off match, against either Edinburgh City or Brora Rangers, to retain their place in the SPFL next season after this draw with Queen’s Park condemned them to bottom spot in League Two, barring some amazing scores over the next few weeks.
Despite it having been on the cards for weeks it was only really Saturday’s result that pushed the Gable Endies into this unwanted position.
To be fair to Paul Hegarty’s side, this was a much improved performance against a side sitting in second top spot in the table and who had already beaten the Gable Endies three times this season.
Montrose came out of the traps fighting and hassled their opponents from the off and fully deserved their half-time lead from a cracking strike from Paul Watson. The side were hit by a quick one-two by Queen’s Park but to their credit, they responded and grabbed an equaliser from captain Garry Wood with nine minutes left.
The side must now look to take this form into the play-off games in May and their remaining matches of the season, to ensure that they remain in the league.
After the defeat by East Fife Paul Hegarty made four changes to his side; out went Craig Johnston, Ross Graham, Graham Webster and David Banjo and into the line-up came Terry Masson, Andrew Steeves, Greg Cameron and Jordan Allan.
McKenzie was in goal with Masson and Steeves in the full-back positions. Andrews and Crawford were in central defence. Cameron and Watson were in the middle of the park with Johnston on the right and Campbell on the left. In a bold move, the pace of Jordan Allan was used up front, alongside Garry Wood.
On the bench for Montrose were Moyes, Graham, Banjo, C. Johnston, O’Neil, Milne and goalkeeper John McCafferty.
Montrose won an early free-kick when Steeves was fouled on the centre circle. Unfortunately, Andrews’ free-kick was too strong and the ball sailed out of play.
In the following minute, Masson whipped over a free-kick from the stand side, Andrews headed the ball on only for offside to be given against his team-mates.
The home side kept up the pressure and almost opened the scoring in the second minute. A long ball out of defence from Crawford saw Jordan Allan outpace Bryan Wharton to the ball his lob was on target but it sailed inches over ‘keeper Muir and just cleared the crossbar.
Montrose were forced into their first change of the afternoon when Marvin Andrews injured his ankle and was replaced by Ewan Moyes in central defence.
Montrose then won another free-kick, this time in front of goal when Jordan Allan was fouled by Quinn. Campbell took over free-kick duties but could only slam the ball into the wall.
Allan was continuing to cause problems for the visiting defence, in his new forward role, and he found Wood with a head-flick but the Montrose captain fired straight into the arms of William Muir.
In the 15th minute Watson headed the ball down to Jordan Allan who turned and from 35 yards out he flashed a drive over the crossbar.
Montrose continued to look for the opening goal and it almost arrived in the next minute. Campbell found Wood whose initial shot was blocked. The ball came back to Watson who played the ball back to Terry Masson and his cross found Watson, who hooked an acrobatic effort wide of the far post.
With 19 minutes gone, Queen’s Park created their first opening of the match. Woods squared the ball into the path of Darren Miller, who sent a long-range effort over the crossbar.
On the half hour mark, Jordan Allan again came close to giving the Gable Endies the lead. He out-muscled Wharton on the edge of the area and again got in a lob which only just cleared Muir’s crossbar.
Montrose finally opened the scoring in 36 minutes. A Wood cross took a slight deflection and, in trying to keep the ball in play, Queen’s Park keeper William Muir got into a tangle with Scott Johnston and the ball broke to Allan who turned it across the face of the goal for PAUL WATSON who rifled the ball into the bottom corner of the net for a deserved opener.
Four minutes later Montrose almost made it two Garry Wood did well to gather the ball at the corner flag he then raced into the box and curled an effort just over the crossbar from a difficult angle.
Half-time: Montrose 1, Queen’s Park 0.
Montrose had an early free-kick at the start of the second half when Allan was fouled by Quinn. Cameron’s kick unfortunately found Moyes coming back from an offside position.
A good passing move gave Queen’s a chance in 50 minutes but Darren Miller wasted the opening by blasting wildly over the bar. It was to be the mid-fielder’s last action of the half, as he was immediately substituted by Shaun Rooney.
The visitors had wild appeals for a corner-kick turned down when Moyes appeared to head the ball behind. Tony Quinn took his appeals too strongly and was booked by referee Mike Roncone.
Disaster struck Montrose in 57 minutes, when the visitors equalised. Pat Slattery got behind the Montrose defence and, in trying to clear the ball, ANDREW STEEVES could only put the ball into his own net from close range.
The afternoon got worse for Montrose when Queen’s Park took the lead two minutes later. After Montrose failed to clear a cross, substitute SHAUN ROONEY appeared to handle the ball whilst he was on the ground but play was allowed to continue and he turned and fired low into the net.
Montrose tired to hit back and Garry Wood took a pass from Allan but he shot wide from the edge of the box.
Greg Cameron became the first Montrose player to be booked in 62 minutes, when he fouled Slattery at the edge of the box. Thankfully for Montrose, the visitor’s short free-kick didn’t work and Sean Burns cutback was cleared by the home defence.
Three minutes later, Queen’s Park made another switch when Ciaran McElroy came on for Ross McPherson.
McElroy was quickly into the action and in a breakaway he saw his shot tipped around the post.
The visitors almost scored again in 69 minutes, when Woods crossed from the right and McKenzie brilliantly kept out the head-flick from John Carter.
Montrose had half a chance three minutes later, when a cross from Jordan Allan found its way to Garry Wood whose shot was blocked and found its way back to Paul Watson whose shot was also blocked, with the home side appealing for hands.
The home side were keeping up the pressure and Jordan Allan showed some great footwork to get in a shot that was tipped wide.
With 15 minutes remaining, Jordan Allan became the next home player to be booked by over-fussy referee Roncone.
Stuart McKenzie kept Montrose in the match in the following minute when Paul Woods went on a great run inside the box, only for the Montrose number one to keep out his low shot by tipping it around the post.
With ten minutes left Jonathan Crawford became the fourth Gable Endies player to see yellow for a foul on John Carter.
Montrose grabbed a deserved equaliser in 81 minutes. Ross Campbell won the ball on the left touchline and sent a great ball down the wing to Jordan Allan who looked up and sent a perfect ball into the box for captain GARRY WOOD to volley home his 11th goal of the season from six yards out. It was no more than the home side deserved.
Montrose went looking for a winner and it almost came with five minutes remaining. Watson sent a great pass out wide on the left flank to Wood who took on his marker before finding Allan, who unfortunately blasted over the bar from just outside the box.
McKenzie once again kept Montrose in the match in the final minute when he saved a shot from Woods, who looked set to score with a right-footed effort.
Ross Campbell became the fifth Montrose booking in stoppage time, when he tripped Slattery on the halfway line.
It was Campbell’s last involvement in the match, as he was immediately replaced by Declan Milne who came on for a home debut.
There was more action to come after the final whistle when both the home side’s Paul Watson and the visitors McElroy where involved in a heated exchange as the sides went off the park and were booked by referee Mike Roncone.
MONTROSE: McKenzie, Masson, Steeves, Cameron, Andrews (Moyes), Crawford, S. Johnston, Watson, Wood, Allan, R. Campbell (Milne) Subs not used: Graham, Banjo, C. Johnston, O’Neil, McCafferty.