Annan Athletic 3 Montrose 3
Montrose Football Club staged another late fightback to claim a valuable away point thanks to two late penalty goals at Galabank on Saturday. It was a much needed point after the midweek disaster at Stirling Albion.
A cold but dry day on the Solway coast saw an end to end game which both teams needed to get points from but for different reasons. A crowd of 354 braved a bitter wind which did not help smooth play on the artificial pitch.
Montrose made two changes to the side who played at Forthbank with Martynuik and Templeman replacing Ferguson and Pascazio. The Gable Endies had Tokarczyk in goal with a back four of Comrie, Clarke, Steeves and Martynuik. Mallagaray, Webster, Masson and Campbell were in midfield with the latter pushing up in support of Fraser and Templeman up top. Pascazio, Ferguson, Harwood, Kenneth, Milne, McLeod and Millar were on the bench.
Notably absent from the Annan side were centre backs Watson and Swinglehurst with Peter Weatherston also missing from attack. In came Gilfillan at the back with new signing Lewis Guy up front and Osadolor restored to the starting eleven wide right.
Montrose got the game underway kicking against the breeze towards the town end. A corner on the left was squandered without a cross coming in and Annan raced away to win a corner at the other end which was cleared down the right. Another Montrose raid down the left was promising but a poor cross came to nothing.
Annan were under the cosh in the first 10 minutes and Campbell almost put Montrose in with a great ball into the six yard box only to see it scrambled away. A long clearance put Annan away at the other end but smart work by Clarke broke it up neatly.
Osadolor then showed his pace by breaking quickly to create a chance out of nothing but blazed over the top with no support forthcoming.
A period of scrappy play from both sides followed with a series of soft free kicks and corners to each side but no real danger created. That all changed in the 33rd minute when Montrose took a deserved lead having had most possession. A flick on by Templeman sent Fraser scampering down the left. He took his man this way and that before unleashing a shot which keeper Currie could only push into the air for ADRIAN MALLAGARAY to tap in from a yard out.
Annan as you might expect were rocked out of their slumber and you wondered if Montrose could hold the lead until half time. A couple of corners for the home side were wasted and a header went narrowly wide. Terry Masson then saw yellow for a trip in midfield and when Montrose failed to deal with the long throw in from McNiff the all fell to RYAN McSTAY who hammered a daisy cutter past Tokarczyk and just inside the left hand post to make it all square at 1-1 going into half time.
The second half saw a determined effort by Annan to boss the game which they did in terms of possession with Montrose unable to string anything together in response. You sensed another Annan goal and it came in a very fortunate way for the home side just before the hour mark. Young Martinyuik chested the ball away in his own penalty area but as he tried to kick it clear Matty Flynn cut across him and ended up being kicked. Down he went, big appeal from the home fans and a penalty it was on the advice of the assistant. The experienced BRYAN GILFILLAN stepped up and made no mistake to put Annan 2-1 ahead. A most unfortunate goal for Montrose to concede and perhaps a questionable penalty.
Annan kept on pushing forward not content to sit on a single goal lead. Montrose cleared their lines, Fraser was caught offside and Templeman was being played well by Kevin Nicoll at the back for Annan. Then disaster for Montrose as Annan scored from a sweeping move down the left by Osadolor who escaped his marker. He swept an inch perfect pass across the six yard box and MATTY FLYNN hit it home from close range.
Montrose were surely dead and buried with less than 20 minutes remaining and Annan by now well on top. We settled back and waited, no hoped for a Montrose response. Campbell was pushed up more into attack with Templeman whilst Fraser took up a position wide left.
A long ball from Steeves put Campbell away down left centre but without support coming quickly enough he blasted a shot just over the angle. It was to be a sign of things to come because suddenly Montrose woke up perhaps hearing from us fans that Shire were 2-0 up at Hampden. Webster put a good ball in from the right but Annan keeper Currie did well to cut out the danger. Next up was that man ROSS CAMPBELL again who is at his best in a backs to the wall situation like this. He powered on in determined fashion chasing a ball into the centre of the Annan penalty area and was crudely upended by Jago. Up he stepped to take the resultant penalty and made no mistake to bring the score back to 2-3 with 8 minutes to go.
Annan pushed forward again to kill the game off but Montrose defended doggedly. An Annan corner was scrambled away firstly by Comrie then Clarke.
Montrose made their first and only substitution with Ryan Ferguson coming on with pace to replace Webster who by his standards had a quiet game. But was it too little too late for Montrose? No it wasn’t, that man Campbell was upsetting the Annan defence and as he broke clear down their throats again he was brought down from behind. The referee seemed to take an age to point to the penalty spot again but had little option and Ben Jago of Annan saw a red card for his efforts.
It was the 92nd minute and this second penalty for Montrose was to be taken by the wily GARY FRASER. We waited and held our breath for an unhealthy amount of time before the back of the net bulged to give Montrose a point from a game which at one time they looked like winning but later on looked like losing. Fraser’s 14th goal of the season.
For Montrose Tokarczyk might have felt he could have done better with the first Annan goal though may have been unsighted. Steeves and Clarke both did well as centre backs and that looks like Clarke’s best position as he is a big lad. Up front Templeman was not as effective as he might have been but still did a good job because by his very presence he needs to be watched and diverts the opposition defenders. His odd flicks on are clearly a new weapon in the Montrose attacking armoury. Mallagaray was determined as well but overall whilst Montrose deserved this good away point there was a period of the game for about half an hour where they struggled to put anything together and that has in the past and could at Annan have been very costly. Something Manager Hegarty surely must address. On a slight downside John Holt was sent to the ‘stands’ by the referee near the end for something he must have said out of turn, perhaps for the referee missing a blatant pull back by the neck on Terry Masson. I say sent to the ‘stands’ figuratively because there is no ‘stand’ anywhere near that side of the ground so he went and stood at the corner flag.