Stirling Albion 0 Montrose 5
The Montrose team bus carried a full strength team to this tricky looking away game against a Stirling Albion side who have been in the top positions of League 2 all season. Fleming in goal with the usual back three of Allan, Dillon and Bolochoweckyj then wing backs Ballantyne and Steeves. Central midfield looked stronger than ever with Milne, Masson and Redman there to support the front two of Templeman and Rennie. There was strength and options on the bench as well with Watson, Fotheringham, Fraser, Webster, Hay and Millar waiting patiently for an opportunity to enter the fray. The Binos made some changes with Wight in goal in place of Binnie and the ever dangerous Darren Smith back in the starting line-up. Referee was Mike Roncone.
On a mild afternoon with little wind there was an amazing away support for Montrose such that the East Stand was opened for this game and the total crowd of 692 was clearly boosted by at least 200 very vociferous Mo fans. It’s been a long time since the Mo had such great away support as this season and as this game unfolded the players showed their appreciation by giving those fans a return ovation at the final whistle – great to see.
As the game started it was Stirling who dominated the opening exchanges without creating much danger. Firstly Smith looked dangerous as he stormed down the park only to run out of pitch as the ball ran away from him. Stirling had two corners in quick succession cleared by Dillon and Bolo then Jamie Redman was booked after 10 minutes for what was an innocuous foul and probably the first of the game as referee Roncone showed his intent early on. The first meaningful Montrose attack came on 14 minutes as Milne took a corner wide right for Redman to head back and a Dillon header was saved with ease. After a couple of puzzling refereeing decisions Milne then fizzed a free kick towards goal from 30 yards but his effort was saved. Bolo then saw yellow following a routine but fair tackle where he clearly won the ball and at this point you wondered if the Mo would see out the game with eleven men still on the pitch with two very early bookings.
Allan Fleming was looking solid at the back and his efforts coming out and claiming crosses in commanding fashion shows just how much his confidence has grown. He did try to make the game interesting with an awful clearance at one point but the Stirling player he gifted it to was so surprised he fluffed the chance.
Then the turning point. Terry Masson charged down and then chased down a long ball towards the corner flag and remarkably kept it in play to send over an inch perfect cross for MARTIN RENNIE to control, swivel and slot the ball low into the bottom right hand corner with keeper Wight well beaten. 1-0 to the Mo after 27 minutes. That was when the game clearly changed in Montrose’s favour as Stirling became ragged and frustrated. Lee Hamilton saw yellow for a late tackle on Templeman then Darren Smith missed a sitter as he hit the post from just a few yards out when a goal looked certain as it landed nicely for him. Stirling hit a long free kick high and wide but at the other end Rennie almost doubled the lead with a free kick which was a carbon copy of his goal the previous week but keeper Wight just scrambled this one away. The last piece of first half action saw Paul Watson replace Jamie Redman the latter having been booked early on. It was a very well measured substitution in the circumstances even though Redman was having a decent game.
Stirling came out firing in the second half but they were only firing blanks but the pace of the game was remarkably fast and furious. A heavy tackle on Dillon brought another Stirling yellow card. Montrose had to ride out this early pressure with both Jardine and McLaughlin looking very lively. Another Stirling yellow card followed for skipper Willie Robertson for another foul on Templeman then came the all-important second Montrose goal in the 63rd minute. Templeman was about to pull the trigger on the edge of the 18-yard box when he was crunched again by Robertson but the ball bounced loose to LEWIS MILNE who hammered it home as the referee played advantage.
Immediately afterwards referee Roncone showed the red card to Robertson who left his team to play the remainder of the game with only ten men.
Stirling were at sixes and sevens. They made a double substitution, their bench was lectured by the referee and mayhem ensued on the halfway line. Two late tackles were made on Montrose players with Substitute Kavanagh along with McNeill both yellow carded and Cammy Ballantyne was also yellow carded for retaliation to such an unfair tackle. Montrose then made another change after 70 minutes with Fraser coming on for Templeman.
Then came the goal of the game if not the entire season. It started at the back as Matty Allan broke up a Stirling attack and laid it off to Milne who quickly turned it into the path of the onrushing CAMMY BALLANTYNE who wasted no time in volleying in into the net from the edge of the box after 75 minutes. If you were not at the game you have to watch the video to believe it. At 3-0 the large Mo crowd were in full voice with Hamish and Ducker above everyone else.
Fotheringham replaced Bolo in the 78th minute to protect another early booking and ensure eleven men still on the field in blue shirts. The fourth goal came in the 80th minute as Andy Steeves clattered down the left and switched it inside for LEWIS MILNE to lash it into the net for his second of the afternoon. Montrose then played out the remainder of the game by largely keeping possession and Gary Fraser did his usual offside trick to fill in some time. LEWIS MILNE then decided to complete his hat-trick in the dying seconds of the game as he grabbed the ball to take a free kick on the edge of the box and lash another past the hapless keeper Craig Wight. That free kick came when Rennie was clean through but keeper Wight handled the ball outside the box. He saw yellow for his actions but referee Roncone must have decided red was too harsh at that stage of the game for the young keeper who had a torrid afternoon.
The game finished 5-0 to the Mo and it was great to see the entire team and staff come over to the fans to return the applause. Although Lewis Milne went home with the match ball the Man of the Match award goes to Terry Masson who makes such a huge difference by his presence in midfield. Cammy Ballantyne’s goal however – well, you just won’t see better! Job well done and next up are Cowdenbeath on Tuesday then Berwick on Saturday as Montrose focus on the last few games one at a time.
Team Lineups & Stats
Saturday 7th April 2018
|3||Steven Noble (s66)
||5||Michael Bolochoweckj (s78)
|9||Peter MacDonald (s66)
|10||Darren Smith (s82)
||10||Chris Templeman (s71)
|14||William Robertson (c)
||17||Jamie Redman (c) (s43)
||8||Paul Watson (s43)
|11||Ross Kavanagh (s66)
||6||Martyn Fotheringham (s78)
||9||Gary Fraser (s71)
|15||George Stanger (s82)
|19||Andy Little (s66)
||1||Jordan Millar (GK)
Graham McNellie, Ross Menzies
Montrose - Martin Rennie (27), Lewis Miolne (63, 78, 90+3), Cammy Balantyne (75)
Stirling Albion - Lee Hamilton (34), William Robertson (60), Ross Kavanagh (67), Ewan McNeil (69), Craig Wight (90+2)
Montrose - Jamie Redman (10), Michael Bolochoweckyj (19), Cammy Balantyne (67)
Stirling Albion - William Robertson (65)