Queen's Park 2 Montrose 2
After a tired looking performance at Berwick a few days earlier Manager George Shields made some changes to the starting line up. In came Graham Webster for Ross McCord, Stephen O’Neil for Paul Harkins and Terry Masson was brought in at right back in place of Jonny Crawford who moved to centre back in place of the injured Alan Campbell.
Montrose lined up with McKenzie in goal, then Masson, Crawford, Wood and Graham at the back with O’Neil, Webster and Watson across the middle, Deasley and Johnston out wide and McIntosh leading the attack. That was very soon to change however.
Queen’s Park are on a good undefeated run so this was always going to be a tough game for Montrose but the task was made much harder within the first few seconds of the game.
It was a bright dry afternoon and good for football with the forecast high winds not materialising until after the game which got underway with Montrose straight into enemy territory down the right. The ball was booted back up field however and uncertainty in the middle of the Montrose defence allowed Queens striker Duggan to go one on one with McKenzie. The big keeper just about got to the ball but the striker managed first touch and according to the letter of the law these days referee Steven Kirkland had no option but to produce a straight red card with less than two minutes gone.
It was the second time in recent weeks that has happened to Montrose and it certainly affected the game as a contest. One wonders if the original ‘professional foul’ ruling has gone too far these days when it looked clear that McKenzie had no intent on fouling. A penalty certainly and maybe a yellow card but in this instance it must be debateable if the penalty (forgive the pun) fit the crime. It certainly made it a one sided game.
Birnstingl took over in goal and Deasley was sacrificed before even being allowed to break sweat. That left McIntosh up front on his own after CHRIS DUGGAN duly dispatched the penalty to make it 1-0.
The Spiders immediately took the game to the Montrose throats and Birnstingl did well to collect a high cross confidently. Shortly afterwards Queen’s Park forced two quick corners and from the second McGregor flashed a near post header just wide. Masson then did well to track back but conceded another corner but Johnston cleared his lines. It was hard work for the 10 men as they attempted to get a handle on the game but still only 15 minutes of the game had gone.
With Deasley having gone off Webster moved out wide right with Johnston switching to the left and full of running as was McIntosh in the centre In midfield Watson and O’Neil were struggling to contain the Spiders’ four man midfield and Shaun Rooney the right back played the whole game as a right winger as there was nobody for him to mark further back. That gave Queen’s Park more width but amazingly they did not use that space to any great effect even though Rooney was eventually voted Man of the Match.
In a rare Montrose attack Leighton McIntosh chased a long ball and was only just beaten to it by Muir in the home goal. Another stride and maybe Muir might have suffered the same fate as McKenzie earlier. That was only a brief interlude in amongst more Queen’s Park corners but Montrose were by now coping well at the back and damage limitation for the rest of that first half was essential.
Unfortunately the half lasted a minute too long and when Masson had to concede another corner DAVID McGREGOR nipped in at the near post to power in a header to make it 2-0 right on half time.
The second half started with Montrose having a ‘mountain to climb.’ Manager Shields sensibly made no changes preferring to settle the side down and on no account concede a third goal which would undoubtedly have taken the game well away from them.
Instead they got nine men behind the ball with McIntosh on his own up front to use his speed. The Queen’s Park back line however were solid but even so just after the restart Webster surged onto a through ball and into the box before unleashing a shot under pressure and which shaved the angle of the post and crossbar. It was to be the best Montrose chance of the day.
More Queen’s Park corners followed, nine in all, but Garry Wood at the heart of the Montrose defence was marshalling his troops well and the offside trap he set on numerous occasions worked every time even though some linesman decisions were heart in the mouth late ones. The rest of the half was mainly possession stuff by the home side who it seemed clearly had the game won. It would be too repetitive to recall all the corners and possession stuff they played and even the home fans must have become frustrated by the way the game was played out. For Montrose it was damage limitation but with the hope that something might happen at the other end as at Berwick – but it didn’t. Birnstingl did well on a number of occasions but overall the back four did well to hold out without any more goals conceded.
As the game drifted into the last 10 minutes Queens Park were caught offside on numerous occasions and the maximum number of substitutions were made by both sides.
For Montrose O’Neil came off for Harkins and Graham came off for Day as Wood again pushed forward to try to salvage something from the game.
There were also four bookings late on with Fraser and Carter for Queens then Wood and Watson for Montrose before the referee had had enough and blew for full time after playing a very sterile three extra minutes stoppage time.
Garry Wood shaded Man of the Match for Montrose. Despite having a hand in the calamity which led to the first goal and sending off he had a very solid game thereafter and was largely responsible for keeping the score respectable. He also survived a decent shout for a last man red card late in the first half but that would have been harsh. From the rest of the team a good rear guard action as a result of that first minute calamity but overall a very disappointing afternoon with the only good point being that it could have been a whole lot worse.