East Fife 3 Montrose 0Montrose Football Club took another step towards the dreaded Pyramid Play Off final when they lost heavily once again, at New Bayview against East Fife on Saturday.
It was the Gable Endies seventh defeat in eight matches and once the home side had taken the lead there was going to be only one winner on the day. Montrose huffed and puffed without creating any real chances and again gave away their by now regular soft goals with two goals handed to the home side on a plate.
With Clyde winning the Cumbernauld based side are now eleven points clear of Paul Hegarty’s side with only five matches remaining. Desperate times for all connected with the club.
Injuries, suspension and illness meant once again four changes to the Montrose line up out went Andrew Steeves, Terry Masson, Greg Cameron and Paul Harkins and into the side came Craig Johnston for his full debut, Ross Graham, David Banjo and Ross Campbell.
Montrose lined up with McKenzie in goal with Craig Johnston in an unfamiliar right back role with Graham at left back. Crawford and Andrews were in central defence. Banjo was wide right in a four man midfield with Scott Johnston on the left with Webster and Watson in the middle. Wood and Campbell were upfront.
On the bench for Montrose were Ewan Moyes, Cameron, Allan, O’Neil, Harwood and Declan Milne featuring for the first time alongside goalkeeper John McCafferty.
It was Montrose who got the match underway in difficult conditions at New Bayview as they found themselves shooting into the strong wind.
Inside the first minute Montrose created the first opening of the match Craig Johnston sprinted up the right wing and found Webster whose first time cross was headed over at the far post by the unmarked Scott Johnston.
Five minutes later Montrose carved out another opportunity. A Crawford free kick wasn’t properly cleared by the home defence and from Graham’s long throw in the ball found its way to Craig Johnston who fired over.
East Fife put Montrose under pressure with a couple of Riordan corner kicks but on both occasions the away defence managed to clear the danger.
In the 12th minute Austin was fouled by Crawford, Riordan curled in the free kick but Andrews was on hand to clear the danger.
Three minutes later East Fife should have opened the scoring. Graham gave away a free kick when he tripped Austin. Player manager Gary Naysmith curled over the free kick and from six yards out Nathan Austin managed to head over the crossbar.
In the 22nd minute Montrose switched off at an East Fife free kick and from Naysmith’s short corner Kevin Smith flicked the ball wide.
Disaster struck the Gable Endies when the home side used the elements to open the scoring in the 25th minute. Scott Johnston needlessly gave away a free kick when he held back Ross Brown on the touchline. Naysmith whipped in a danger cross to the six yard area where NATHAN AUSTIN was able to head the ball past McKenzie from six yards out.
Three minutes later Montrose won a free kick of their own when Wood was held back by Riordan. Webster took the free kick but could only chip the ball into the arms of keeper Jordan Miller.
Montrose carved out a good opening just past the half hour mark. Craig Johnston when on a surging run up the right and found Banjo he crossed the ball back to Wood his shot was blocked and then the rebound fell to Craig Johnston who also saw his effort blocked.
East Fife scored again with a freak goal in the 37th minute. Kevin Smith tried to find his own team mate with a pass across the edge of the area only for PAUL WATSON to stick out a foot to intercept only to see the ball fly into the bottom corner of the net for a spectacular own goal. When the chips are down they are certainly down.
It could have worse the following minute when Nathan Austin volleyed over the crossbar from six yards out when it looked easier to score.
Montrose came close to pulling a goal back in the 39th minute. Ross Graham whipped over a dangerous cross from the left flank and David Banjo volleyed just wide at the far post.
On the stroke of half time Wood set up Paul Watson with a strike at goal but he shot straight into the arms of keeper Miller.
In the opening minute of the second half Graham gave East Fife another free kick but this time McKenzie was able to get his hands on the delivery from Naysmith.
In the 50th minute Montrose created their best opening of the match. Wood latched onto a throw in from Craig Johnston and headed the ball down to Banjo who turned and made space for a shot only to drag his effort inches wide of the far post.
Play was then held up for a couple of minutes as East Fife keeper Jordan Miller received treatment after he was caught on the shoulder by Ross Campbell.
On the hour mark Paul Watson strode forward from his midfield position and with Scott Johnston totally unmarked wide on the left he chose to go it alone and his 30 yard drive went straight into the arms of Miller.
It was all over for Montrose on the hour mark Marvin Andrews was short with a pass back to McKenzie and NATHAN AUSTIN nipped in to lob the ball over the keepers head for his second goal of the afternoon.
Montrose made a change the following minute with Jordan Allan coming on to replace David Banjo. Scott Johnston moved over to the right with Allan taking up a position on the left.
Four minutes later a long throw in from Allan found Scott Johnston inside the area he turned and his shot from six yards out appeared to be net bound until it struck one of his own team-mates and went out for a by kick.
With twenty minutes left Graham Webster struck the East Fife crossbar with an inswinging corner kick but that was to be as near as the Gable Endies would get.
Two minutes later and East Fife made their first change with Alan Cook coming on to take the place of Kevin Smith.
Some strong running from Jordan Allan won Montrose a corner kick in the 77th minute but unfortunately for the Gable Endies his corner kick was too strong and the ball sailed out of play.
Seconds later Montrose made their second change of the afternoon giving a first team debut to 17 year old forward Declan Milne he came onto to replace to Ross Campbell. At the same time the home side brought on Ola Adeyemo for ex Scotland international Derek Riordan.
The final piece of action came with seven minutes left when East Fife made a final change Sean Dickson replacing Allan Walker.